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CT Leads on Progressive Approach to Science of Reading, 2 Reports Show CT Struggles with Ed Equality

CT Leads on Progressive Approach to Science of Reading

Yesterday, the Reading Leadership Implementation Council, which advises and develops annual goals for the Center leading Connecticut’s Right to Read effort, met to discuss its draft goals for the 2023-24 school year. Watch their meeting here.

One of the distinguishing features of Connecticut’s Right to Read legislation is that it does not retain young students who struggle with reading. Doing so has been a common characteristic of legislation related to the science of reading in red states like Mississippi, Tennessee, and Indiana. On Monday, for example, Education Week had an article regarding Mississippi's progress in literacy over the past decade, touting the state's 3rd grade retention strategy as one part of its successful approach.

But a Chalkbeat story last week looked at what the evidence actually suggests about the impact of retention strategies, especially for young learners. Although retention tends to boost test scores in the short term, it isn't clear that it has a positive academic effect over the longer term. At the same time, retention after third grade often comes at significant social and emotional costs to students.

It stands to reason that if you don’t let your struggling third graders graduate and take the 4th grade NAEP exam, your 4th grade NAEP performance will improve… but then are you really meeting the needs of students? Through the lens of equity, it is anathema to us to put the onus for success on individual students, rather than on an educational system that is letting them down. The better, more progressive path to literacy is one that gives students the interventions they need to succeed.

Shout out to our peers in arguably the bluest state, Massachusetts, who are currently pushing a pair of literacy bills closely aligned to Connecticut's early literacy model. (See S263 and H579). If passed, this legislation will add requirements for pre-service training and professional development, assessment and parental notification, required curriculum updates and intervention. We’re rooting for you, MA!

Two Reports Show CT Struggles with Ed Equality

Last week, the annual Kids Count Report, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed a drop in Connecticut's "child well-being" ranking. The Hartford Courant reports that the report uses 16 indicators regarding education, health, economic well-being, and family and community. Last year, Connecticut ranked seventh, but this year, Connecticut ranks ninth in the nation. Health, community, and economic measures all contributed to this outcome. (Think: low birth rates, teen births, lack of childcare, number of children living in poverty.)

In the area of education in the Kids Count Report from Casey, Connecticut ranked third in the nation, only outperformed by Massachusetts and New Jersey. However, the Courant's story also notes that, "nearly all of the indicators showed disparate outcomes by race and ethnicity." Those findings are consistent with a separate study by WalletHub released earlier this month, which actually ranked Connecticut third worst in the country for educational equality along racial lines. According to reporting by WFSB, Connecticut was 31st in the nation for share of adults with at least a high school degree, 50th in share of adults with at least a Bachelor's, and 37th in public high school graduation rates.

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