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State Board’s 5-Year Plan, Higher Ed Committee Forum on Student Diversity, Math Instruction in CT

State Board’s 5-Year Plan: Equity, the Whole Child, Literacy, Career Pathways, and More

Last week, Inside Investigator reported that the Connecticut State Board of Education (CSBE) has released a draft of its 5-year Comprehensive Plan for Education. The plan includes four broad priorities:

  1. Equitable access to education: Providing interventions and support in the most challenged communities, and building an educator workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the state.

  2. Learning environments that are intellectually, physically, and emotionally safe and healthy: Embracing initiatives that support the whole child—such as multigenerational efforts, family engagement, mental health services, and nutrition. Emphasizes the need for special education resources, and commits to establishing a "fully operational Special Education Call Center."

  3. Elevating Connecticut’s curriculum frameworks: Providing districts with resources and model curricula related to modern-day skills students will need in the era of tech—like collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. Explicitly supports foundational literacy skills aligned with Right to Read!

  4. Creating opportunities for students to explore multiple career pathway options: Committing to post-grad experiences that better align with workforce needs and individual career interests. Calls for expanded dual credit offerings and work-based learning experiences.

This well-thought-out vision for Connecticut is worth a read.

Higher Ed Committee Weighs Policies on Student Diversity

On Monday, the General Assembly's Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee held a four-hour informational forum regarding the US Supreme Court's decision this summer to end race-conscious admissions practices (SCOTUS Decision). (If you need a quick refresher on the implications of the case, we covered it back in July here.) The forum allowed us to hear legal interpretations from organizations representing colleges, as well as from Hartford Promise’s scholars about their individual experiences on the path to success.

On a panel regarding institutional perspectives, UConn's Nathan Fuerst and Yale’s Jeremiah Quinlan spoke about their enrollment figures and commitment to diversity. Ironically, both men testified before this same Committee just last year in support of maintaining the discriminatory admissions practice of honoring legacy preference. (Learn about the 2022 effort to ban legacy preferences in Connecticut here. Read Fuerst’s 2022 opposition testimony here and Quinlan’s here.) Nevertheless, general back-patting on the panel ensued.

On the other hand, Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez, representing Wesleyan, was a wealth of meaningful policy information. In July, Wesleyan responded promptly to the SCOTUS Decision by ending legacy preference. Since then, Wesleyan has also announced that it will eliminate loans from its financial aid packages, opting to meet all students' demonstrated financial needs. Connecticut would benefit from giving more air time to proactive, student-centered, equity-oriented practices like these. Watch the full informational forum here.

The SCOTUS Decision poses a serious threat to student diversity and equity on college campuses and beyond. Our national affiliate, Education Reform Now (ERN), has advocated for a robust state-level response that includes: state-issued guidance and awareness campaigns, amped up data collection policies, and expanded access to dual enrollment. ERN has also launched a webinar series on the new era of college advising, emphasizing that the SCOTUS Decision does not prevent colleges from doubling-down on diversity-oriented recruitment tactics. Register for tomorrow’s webinar for Counselors, Advisors, and Mentors Advising Students After the End of Race-Conscious Admissions.

A Look at Math Instruction in CT and Nationally

This week, the CT Examiner had an article describing how math instruction in Connecticut schools focuses too much on rote computation and insufficiently on critical thinking. Oftentimes, schools emphasize "paper-and-pencil algorithmic skills" at the elementary-level and skills that lead to calculus at the secondary-level—instead of on topics like data analysis, statistics, and probability. Indeed, Education Week reported over the summer that teachers nationwide have limited professional development in these areas.

Awareness is growing across the country. Just this year, our colleagues at DFER Colorado were part of a statewide effort to transform PreK-12 math instruction. The bill they passed establishes free, optional training in evidence-based mathematics instruction for teachers; continued professional development in numeracy for early childhood educators; and requires math teacher candidates enrolled in educator preparation programs to be trained in evidence-based practices. It also creates an academic accelerator grant program to provide out-of-school math interventions and enrichment. Kudos, CO!

We’ll be watching to see how this trend unfolds here in Connecticut.

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