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The Condition of Education in Connecticut 2021-22, and the Parent Perception Gap

The Condition of Education in Connecticut 2021-22

On April 5th, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) presented its 2021-22 annual report on the condition of education to the State Board of Education (CSBE). You can watch the full presentation from Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker and Ajit Gopalakrishnan, CSDE Chief Performance Officer, here.)

Among many important, data-based observations, were those on enrollment and absenteeism. Between the 2020-21 school year and the 2021-22 school year, public school enrollment increased by 0.1%, apparently the first increase in a decade. However, that small bump follows an almost 3% decline in the prior year. Mr. Gopalakrishnan therefore referred to the enrollment figure of roughly 513,000 students as "stable" at this point. Student enrollment is also increasingly diverse, with 51.4% students of color in 2021-22.

Alongside this new normal for enrollment figures, there has also been a steep increase in chronic absenteeism. Between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, chronic absenteeism rates grew from 19%-23.7%. To illustrate the seriousness of this recent shift, we have pulled the last ten years of chronic absenteeism data below.

Another important takeaway from the CSDE’s report was about student preparedness for post-secondary education. For four years, the state has tracked a metric called "postsecondary readiness," which identifies the percentage of 11th and 12th graders who are meeting the college-and-career-readiness benchmark on at least one of the following: SAT or ACT, AP or IB, or earning three or more dual enrollment credits during their high school career. The most recent data show only 43.5% of 11th and 12th graders meet this benchmark. We have a lot of work to do.

The Parent Perception Gap

PBS News Hour covered a new study on Thursday that shows most K-12 parents believe their children are performing at their grade level, even when they're not. That's according to a March survey conducted by the nonprofit, Learning Heroes, which found a large "parent perception gap"—the difference between how well parents believe their students are performing, and reality. Specifically:

  • Nationally, the survey indicated that 92% of parents believe their children are performing at or above grade-level in reading. Meanwhile, only 33% of 4th graders nationwide were at or above proficiency levels in reading on the most recent National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). For 8th grade reading nationwide, only 31% were at/above proficiency.

  • The survey also shows 89% of parents believe their children are performing at or above grade-level in math. But NAEP shows 36% of 4th graders and only 26% of 8th graders are at/above proficiency in that subject.

The story includes an interview with former US Secretaries of Education Margaret Spellings and Arne Duncan, both of whom described the need to empower parents with the skills to appropriately advocate for their individual children. Good watch/read.

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