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CT higher ed solutions, how to teach literacy, + ongoing ed mentions on the presidential trail

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: solutions for high costs and low grad rates in CT colleges, the right way to teach literacy, and ongoing education mentions on the presidential trail.

Connecticut Seeks Solutions for Higher Ed

News stories about the services provided by Connecticut's colleges continue to dominate the media this month, following the release of our report, Less for More—which looked at both high costs and low completion rates in many of the state’s bachelor-degree granting programs. On the issue of costs, the UConn Board of Trustees today approved a schedule of tuition increases by 23.3% over the next five years. Senator Will Haskell, co-chair of the legislature's Higher Education Committee, has observed that the burden of covering the school’s expenses have shifted to students because the state's funding for UConn has been reduced. Meanwhile, a Forbes Magazine article gave the University of Bridgeport one of the lowest financial grades in the nation this week.

On the matter of increasing completion rates, our latest blog identifies several college advising strategies that have been successful for increasing graduation rates in other states, especially among vulnerable student populations. These include: GPS Advising systems, cultural awareness initiatives, guided pathways, and coursework transferability.

The Right Way to Teach Reading

In the wake of disappointing assessment outcomes on both the PISA and the NAEP exams this fall—there have been a lot of conversations about the country’s approach to literacy instruction. On Thursday, The New York Times published an opinion piece looking at Mississippi—the only state to make significant gains in fourth grade reading. Probably not coincidentally, the state has also been training its teachers in the science of reading since 2013. Research shows that the majority of students need explicit phonics instruction to build decoding skills—coupled with robust language skills—so they can connect the words they naturally speak with the words written on a page.

Ongoing Education Mentions on the Presidential Trail

  • This week, presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg released an education plan that includes universal pre-K and increases to Title I funding for states and districts implementing equitable education funding formulas. (“Keeping the Promise for America’s Children”)

  • Don’t forget: On Saturday, December 14th, MSNBC will host a forum on the education proposals of the Democratic primary candidates. (US News)


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