A Connecticut Superior Court Judge issued a scathing 265 page order about education in the state. The state must overhaul its education system within 180 days. Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the suit.
Mayor Mark Boughton, who is still a certified teacher, says the Judge asked a simple question. How can 98.5 percent of teachers receive a good or excellent rating in their evaluation. The Judge compared the system to taking cotton candy out in the rain, there's nothing to it. Boughton says he never thought about it that way, but take a step back and matching it with the outcomes it makes sense.
The Judge asked for merit pay for teachers.
In addition to ordering a correction to the finance system, and a new teacher evaluation system, the judge called for a high school graduation exit exam and a definition of what it means to have an elementary education. The Judge is also calling for a definition of the measurement tool to assess that in 3rd graders.
Boughton cautioned that new standards and testing will require resources.
An exit exam is a strategy some states first implemented in the 1970s, as a way to measure student performance, but the exams have been dropped in many places amid a backlash against standardized testing. About half the states have exit exams, but the trend has been away from using them. California suspended its exam last year. A number of states are reviewing the use of the exams as they consider whether certain standardized tests, such as assessments aligned with the Common Core program, can stand for others including exit exams, says Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Center for Education Policy.
The judge said in his ruling that many of Connecticut's poorest students are being let down by a system that awards diplomas without assuring they have basic math and literacy skills. "The state is letting graduation rates rise without them meaning that there are more educated people among us," Moukawsher wrote. Whatever the state chooses as a test, that exam must connect secondary-school learning with secondary-school degrees, he said.
The Judge also called for an overhaul to the school construction funding system. No school construction project funding request to the state has ever been denied. There's been $1 billion in spending over the last two years.
City Councilman Paul Rotello asked if the judge yesterday mentioned how this would work because legislators will not willingly cut funding to their own district. The Judge said he would not be afraid to use a court order to compel the legislature, acknowledging though that it's politically untenable. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the era of districts being held harmless on their education funding is gone.
Boughton says the state will probably take an appeal. But the way the judge wrote his decision , he says it's unlikely the state would win an appeal in the Connecticut Supreme Court.