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Special Edition: Updates on Educator Diversity and Right to Read

New Policy Brief Argues CT Needs More Educators of Color

As Jessika Harkay reported in the CT Mirror last night, our affiliate, ERN CT, released a new policy brief that explores Connecticut’s efforts to diversify the educator workforce. The key findings are:

  1. Widening Gaps: 11.2% of educators are teachers of color, as compared to a student population that is 52.5% of color—a gap that is widening over time, not improving.

  2. 85 to 1: There are 85 students in Connecticut to each teacher of color, a ratio that is improving over time.

The policy brief incorporates two metrics to compare student and teacher demographic data: (a) a “Diversity Gap” that compares teacher and student populations by looking at the percentage point difference between students and teachers of color; and (b) a “Teacher of Color Ratio” that illustrates how many individual students there are for each teacher of color within a jurisdiction.

In a press release, ERN CT Executive Director Amy Dowell explained the multi-faceted nature of the analysis. The Diversity Gap identifies an issue of educational equity: as Connecticut welcomes an increasingly diverse student population, it has a responsibility to meet their needs; this includes a response to research showing clear benefits to students of color from having a representative teacher workforce. However, it’s not just students of color who would benefit from greater levels of educator diversity in the state. The Teacher of Color ratio illustrates just how many general population students there are for each educator of color in Connecticut. All students, the report argues, need access to teachers of varied racial backgrounds in order to be prepared for a global economy.

CT Dep’t of Ed Ensures Evidence-Based Literacy Practices

Yesterday, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) released its response to district applications to be waived from meeting Connecticut’s Right to Read curricular requirements. Among other critical requirements in the state’s landmark 2021 “Right to Read” legislation (think: professional learning, interfacing with educator preparation programs, and interventions), the law requires all Connecticut districts to implement evidence-based curricula from among a list approved by a new Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success (the Center).

Under the leadership of Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker and the Center, the state conducted a rigorous process of approving an initial set of seven curricula steeped in the science of reading. This step staked out a vision of a Connecticut in which all public school districts will use evidence-based practices to help as many K-3 students as possible build the foundational skill of literacy.

However, 85 public school districts submitted applications requesting a waiver from the new curricular requirements. Each waiver submission was subjected to a blind review by an outside consulting group—Public Consulting Group, followed by one-on-one interviews between state personnel and district representatives. That extensive review process led the Center to expand its initial list of state-approved curricula to nine programs, as well as adding a new set of "Compendiums of Curriculum Models or Programs." In all, of the 85 districts that applied:

  • 17 received a “meeting expectations” result - indicating that their waivers were approved;

  • 4 received a “partially meeting expectations” result - indicating the need for an additional component;

  • 39 received a “transitional” result - indicating the need to both add and substitute programmatic or curriculum components; and

  • 25 received a “limited” designation - indicating that their waivers were not approved.

Senator Pat Billie Miller, the sponsor of the Right to Read legislation, said of this outcome, “Through a comprehensive, open, and fair process, we know that every district in our state, in accordance with the law, will be using an evidence-based early literacy curriculum by the fall of 2025.” Both she and ERN CT Executive Director Amy Dowell also testified at a State Board of Education meeting yesterday, expressing their gratitude for the extraordinary leadership exhibited by the Commissioner and her team as they have implemented Right to Read. This is a huge win for Connecticut students. View the approved waivers here.

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