Welcome to ConnCAN’s 2015 Annual Report!

posted by / January 27, 2016



Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.40.22 PMThanks to you, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now celebrated its 10th year of advocacy in 2015. Your commitment to a future where every child has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential has led to a decade of championing student-focused policies that ensure all our children have access to the excellent public education they need and deserve. It’s clear Connecticut’s economic and civic future rests on giving kids a great education today.

No child should unfairly be denied the opportunity to receive an education they can count on, and your efforts to ensure that doesn’t happen is making a real difference. Here are some of our favorite examples of the impact you’ve had on expanding access to great schools, teachers and district leaders for all children across Connecticut, regardless of race, family income or zip code:

  • Higher standards and greater accountability for results: Your support helped us ensure that Connecticut adopted and continues to implement the Common Core State Standards, which raise expectations to ensure all students are prepared for success in college and career. Your support also helped us ensure that Connecticut uses valid and reliable measures, each year, to measure progress and know how well all students are meeting those standards.
  • Increased access to high-quality public school options: Evidence shows that Connecticut’s public charter schools are delivering strong results for students. Thousands of families across our state are waiting for access to these options. Your support helped many families and students get it. With your voice, this school year, 24 public charter schools are serving more than 9,000 students in 11 cities across Connecticut. That’s nearly double the schools and three times the amount of kids than when we started this work 10 years ago.
  • Recruitment, support and retention of great teachers principals and leaders: Your efforts have helped us create alternate pathways to certification and remove roadblocks that keep talented educators out of Connecticut’s schools. We helped bring Teach for America to our state, made it easier to hire excellent math and science educators, created an alternative pathway for Connecticut’s most talented classroom teachers to become principals, and passed policies to improve Connecticut’s ability to recruit and retain great teachers and leaders of color.

What’s more, your support has helped spark change in other states. Inspired by the success of ConnCAN, in 2011, the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now (50CAN) emerged as an independent organization to bring the success of ConnCAN to other states around the country.  

We’ve made real progress together, but there is still so much to do. Thousands of children in Connecticut continue to lack access and opportunity to the great schools, teachers and principals they need.

Our 10th anniversary gave us a moment to reflect upon progress towards our goals of a high-quality education for every child in Connecticut. It also brought us together to renew our commitment to the work and redouble our efforts to meet the challenges facing students, their families, and our state.

ConnCAN’s 2015 Annual Report is filled with moments and memories where you worked together, spoke out, marched and stood up for great public education to make a difference in lives of all Connecticut’s students.

We hope you enjoy the best moments from our 10th year together. We’re ready to fight for as long as it takes to ensure every child has access to the great public education they need and deserve. With your support, we will make that dream a reality.

Will Heins, Board Chair, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now

Halting a Moratorium on Great Schools

posted by / January 26, 2016

Halting a Moratorium on Great Schools


No child should be unfairly denied access to a great school that could change his or her life.

Despite the fact that thousands of Connecticut parents are demanding greater access to quality public schools, and despite the evidence that many public schools of choice are delivering excellent results, especially for students of color and students in poverty, some legislators proposed a bill that would have blocked any new public charter schools from opening for two years.  

For the first time in our state’s history, a bill proposing a full moratorium on new public charter schools had an official public hearing before the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Education. We could not let this happen. We know that students cannot wait for a great education. They need it now. So, we immediately jumped into action with our partners to defeat this bill.

ConnCAN, our partners and supporters like you fought off this effort through an integrated public awareness campaign. We highlighted that public charter schools work and explained why a moratorium on new schools would be unfair to parents who demand choice and students who need high-quality schools. Thousands of you sent emails to legislators, made phone calls and spoke with your neighbors letting them know that the General Assembly should support, not vilify, great schools for the kids who need them most.

“Connecticut’s achievement gap and would deny thousands of kids an opportunity to access high-quality educational options. With over 80% of our state ‘s public charter schools outperforming their host district, and with parents continuing to demand these options, this bill would directly oppose the wants and needs of parents and communities and deny them options that deliver a great education for kids. This bill attempts to stifle choice in our state and will prevent our most vulnerable children from accessing the high-quality schools they need for lifelong opportunity and success.”

-Yamuna Menon, Director of Research & Policy

On March 19, dozens of parents, educators and supporters of great schools, including our CEO Jennifer Alexander and Director of Research and Policy Yam Menon, joined together to testify before the Joint Committee on Education against the proposed charter moratorium in S.B. 1096.

After all the testimony was submitted, tweets tweeted, emails sent and voices raised from hundreds of supporters like you across Connecticut, the General Assembly stripped the charter moratorium language from the proposed legislation, paving the way for more students to have access to the great schools they need and deserve.

Expanding Access To Great Schools

posted by / January 25, 2016

The Largest Ever Rally At The Capitol


For 10 years, ConnCAN has fought to make sure that all children, regardless of their families’ income or the color of their skin, have the opportunity to choose a high-quality public school that works best for them. In cities like Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford and New Haven, students do not have sufficient access to quality educational resources and school options. For many communities, public schools of choice, like public charter schools or magnet schools, are providing life-changing opportunities.

But there aren’t enough schools to meet the demand. Right now, more than 3,000 families are on charter school waiting lists, hopeful that their child can access the opportunity to attend a great school.

Last year, ConnCAN and our partners expanded access to great public schools of choice. Two new public charter schools in Stamford and Bridgeport were scheduled to open in the Fall of 2015. Funding, however, proved to be a fight. With the 2015 legislative session, hundreds of potential students and their families were left in limbo, waiting for Connecticut’s state leaders to decide whether to fund schools they were counting on, schools that had already been approved by the state. Most alarmingly, we also faced the possibility of a two-year moratorium on new public charter schools in the state.

Thankfully, the efforts of advocates like you from across Connecticut made sure that the moratorium did not succeed. The proposal was eventually removed from a bill on charter accountability and transparency. However, the question of funding two new schools in a difficult budget session remained. The General Assembly needed to hear the voices of the families who would benefit from new schools.



To help secure funding, ConnCAN and our partners hosted the largest ever education rally at the state capitol in support of reform.


Over 1,500 parents, teachers, advocates, and students gathered at the state capitol in Hartford to demand the state legislature prioritize students and provide our kids with the high-quality educational options they need and deserve. Speaker after speaker, including students, Representative Bruce Morris, Representative Christopher Rosario, Representative Douglas McCrory and Governor Dannel P. Malloy addressed the crowd and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring our children, all our children, get the great public education they need and deserve.

Advocates like you expanded the rally’s message of educational equity and opportunity and amplified the message beyond Hartford and into the homes of families across Connecticut. The rally generated more than 9.2 million impressions on social media with 1,254 uses of the hashtag #ForEveryChild on Twitter. This chorus of voices and collaboration of supporters and advocates calling for more access to high-quality schools ultimately worked. In June of 2015, the General Assembly passed a bi-annual budget that included funding for the two new public charter schools, giving hundreds of children in Bridgeport and Stamford access to a quality education and opening up doors of opportunity.

Experience the rally #ForEveryChild in 140 characters or less by checking out the Storify below.

Pushing For Progress On School Turnarounds

posted by / January 24, 2016

Strengthening our Efforts to Turn Around our Lowest-Performing Schools



Despite our progress in recent years, Connecticut continues to have some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. For decades, our state has struggled to narrow and ultimately close the gaps between our students of color and children in poverty and their white and more affluent peers. However, there are pockets of excellence across our state and nation where students are thriving academically, regardless of race, family income or zip code. At ConnCAN, we work to understand these best practices and help others learn from these efforts to improve our current system.

TURNAROUNDBookButtonFar too many of our students, particularly children of color and from low-income households, continue to lack access to the great schools that they need and deserve. Turning around our lowest-performing schools is critical to ensuring students in our most vulnerable communities have an equal opportunity and access to a high-quality education. In 2012, Governor Malloy and the General Assembly established the Commissioner’s Network, a program designed to turnaround the state’s lowest-performing schools. The Network currently includes 17 schools that serve over 10,000 kids. The state has allocated nearly $48 million total for the program.

While supportive of a strong effort to improve our schools, ConnCAN is concerned that the program falls short of promising efforts in other states and began to raise the alarm. A strong turnaround effort could have a huge impact on our education system , but any investment of resources needs to be coupled with policies that are known to drive real improvements.
To make the case for bolder action, in February, ConnCAN released an important report on turnaround efforts in the State of Connecticut. “Addressing Connecticut’s Education: Improving Turnaround Measures For Our Lowest-Performing Schools.” The report reviewed our state’s current program tasked with turning around our lowest-performing schools, the Commissioner’s Network; examined best practices from other states and districts; and made recommendations on how Connecticut can implement some of these best practices in order to improve the Network and student achievement in the schools that need the help the most.

The report made 8  key recommendations to improve our state’s current school turnaround efforts. You can view each in the “8 Ways To Improve School Turnarounds In CT” post from the ConnCAN blog.

ConnCAN, Community Engagement Organizer Darryl Brackeen Jr. testifies in support of stronger turnaround efforts.

Throughout session, we pushed state lawmakers to consider effective school turnaround models. As a result, we were able to convene an informational hearing before the General Assembly Joint Committee on Education about improving our state’s turnaround efforts. Turnaround leaders like Karen Lott of Thirman L. Milner School in Hartford, Seth Racine of Lawrence Public Schools and Scott Gordon of Mastery Public Schools joined together to present their promising work and to make recommendations on how Connecticut’s current system could improve in order to further drive student achievement in the schools that need help the most.

Watch the informational hearing on school turnarounds on CT-N here.

Ultimately, we weren’t able to change state law in 2015, but we continue to push hard for improvements to our state’s turnaround efforts in 2016.


Engaging our Neighbors

posted by / January 23, 2016

ConnCAN Launch of Community Engagement Efforts



To truly improve our public schools, change must be driven by our communities. This year, ConnCAN launched grassroots engagement efforts in the cities of New Haven, Hamden and Norwalk. Led by a team of dynamic new community organizers, the three-city program is aimed at ensuring ConnCAN’s future efforts included the voices of the communities impacted by educational inequities. Our teams have canvassed the cities and talked with residents about their views on education, forged new allies and met new leaders in the fight for great schools for all children.

Your support helped us reach nearly 30,000 residents and identify more than nearly 1,300 individuals who want to get involved to help find solutions.

In 2015, our engagement efforts have evolved from starting the conversation to building advocates and empowering community members to demand fairness and equity in our education system. We look forward to working with this new group of advocates to ensure every child gets the excellent public education they need and deserve.  

29,191 Doors knocked on


We also continued our collaboration with community, social justice and religious leaders throughout the state who want to improve our public schools. We worked with an array of groups that are committed to change and represent key voices from over 20 clergy leaders across the state to the CT chapter of the Urban League to local community service organizations. Representatives of these organizations joined us in speaking out for great public schools for all children in our state.

Together, with our community partners, leaders and residents, ConnCAN facilitated community conversations to allow our state leaders to hear directly from constituents on issues related to education. We hope that these conversations will spark  bolder actions to ensure that all Connecticut children have equal access to an excellent education.

2015 Community Conversation Calendar

January: New Haven Community Conversation on the Common Core (Read More)
February: Hamden Community Conversation on Minority Teacher Recruitment (Read More)
December: New Haven Community Conversation on the Achievement Gap (Read More)
In addition, ConnCAN hosted a panel discussion with leading Early Childhood Education experts in New Haven in October 2015.




Darryl_Brackeen_HeadshotDarryl Brackeen Jr., Community Organizer: Brackeen is life-long New Haven resident. Brackeen is a graduate of Fairfield University and holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and History. In October 2014, Darryl joined ConnCAN with extensive experience as an educator, mentor, and community organizer. He brings expertise in managing political campaigns in New Haven and its Westville neighborhood, in particular.

Brackeen served as a former steering committee member and liaison for the Greater New Haven Help Alliance’s, Adopt-A-School Initiative, which has launched its first volunteer mentoring and tutoring program at Lincoln Bassett School in Newhallville. Darryl Brackeen is also sits on the board for local prison re-entry program, Immunity in the Community, which seeks to empower men and women who return back to New Haven after serving their time.


Toni Williams, Community Organizer: Prior to starting at ConnCAN, Toni worked on various freelance assignments providing fundraising consulting specific to institutional advancement and community partnerships, high-end special event management and public relations services to philanthropists, co-founders, Board Members and Executive Directors of non-profit organizations. Recent clients include Gateway Community College Foundation, Student Achievement Through Opportunity (SATO), Jazz on the Vineyard Gala to benefit SATO and the Beta Zeta Boule Foundation.  Prior to her work as an independent consultant, she was Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT.


Carlos Lombardo, Community Organizer: Carlos comes to ConnCAN with a strong background in community organizing and mobilization. He graduated from CUNY York College, with a bachelor degree in Political Science. After graduation, he traveled to Paraguay where he joined other Paraguayan leaders to amend the National Constitution, giving expatriates the rights to vote in national elections. Upon his return to USA, he was elected Vice-President of the Westchester -New York ANR Colorado Party Caucus #459. He was later appointed by the ANR Colorado Party Electoral Tribunal as the Party Electoral Delegate to organize and oversee the first ANR Colorado Party Presidential Primaries in Westchester, NY.

Community Conversation Series

posted by / January 22, 2016

Sparking The Dialogue In Our Communities


ConnCAN’s Community Engagement team hosted a series of successful community conversations that allowed state leaders to hear directly from constituents on issues related to education. Community conversations create opportunities to understand concerns of parents and students and are designed to spark action towards equal access to an excellent education for all students.

January 2015: Community Conversation on the Common Core

In January 2015, we held in our first community conversation of the year.  ConnCAN brought together education advocates, elected officials, parents and educators at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church for an important discussion on the Common Core Standards in Connecticut. The discussion focused on next steps and was both forward-thinking and constructive, and most poignant moments from the evening arose when the forum opened up for audience questioning. Parents who attended wanted to know their role in helping their children prepare for these new standards and many worried that their child will be left behind or would not be successful. Hearing the urgency and anxiety in the voice of parents signified that misconceptions and uncertainties about higher standards still persist. More work and outreach is needed in order to address those concerns, eventually inspiring ConnCAN to create ReadyCT.org, an online resource on assessments and standards developed especially for parents.


Further Reading: New Haven Independent: “Common Ground Found On Common Core”

February 2015: Community Conversation on Minority Teacher Recruitment


In February, ConnCAN brought together educational advocates and leaders, including Hamden Superintendent Jody Goeler, to discuss the recruitment and retention of highly-effective teachers and school leaders. A growing body of research suggests students of color, when taught by teachers of color, perform better on a number of indicators, including: academic performance,  attendance and expulsion rates. We also know that all students benefit from increased diversity in the classroom, which has been shown to promote understanding and a wider sense of community. Given that our state’s current student body is nearly half minority, and only 8% of our teachers are teachers of color, it is crucial we incentivize and improve our preparation practices in order to ensure our teaching workforce mirrors the richness in diversity of our student body.

Held at the Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hamden, Connecticut, dozens of supporters gathered to tell personal stories, discuss policy, and make recommendations on how our state can improve the recruitment and retention of effective teachers of color. Panelists included Emanuela Palmares of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission; Jody Goeler, Hamden Superintendent of Schools; Genevieve Walker of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology; and Gwen Samuel of the Connecticut Parents Union. Events like this and further community engagement efforts on this issue had a significant impact on policymakers, informing and mobilizing support for bills designed to improve the recruitment of minority teachers and school leaders.

December 2015: Community Conversation on the Achievement Gap


In December, ConnCAN partnered with the Urban League of Southern Connecticut to host a community conversation on the persistent and pervasive achievement gap in our state. Panelists included Erik Clemons of the State Board of Education, Representative Juan Candelaria of New Haven, Emily Byrne of the New Haven Housing Authority, and Gilberto Traverso of the New Haven Public Schools. Each panelist brought a unique and holistic perspective on the realities of achievement gaps and how those gaps extend well beyond the classroom. From access to technology and greater accountability, over 50 attendees, including local teachers, parents and educational advocates, gave their insight on how the achievement gap affects them and their family, allowing ConnCAN to understand the concerns of the New Haven community so we may include the voices of our communities in our advocacy efforts.

Community conversations were an important medium for hearing concerns, galvanizing support and affecting change in policy in 2015, and we look forward to producing similar events in 2016.

Further Reading: New Haven Register: “Education Leaders In New Haven Delineate Achievement Gap’s Root Causes”



Launching the 2015 Field Guide to Education

posted by / January 21, 2016

Your Personal Compass To All Things Education


Knowledge is power. That’s why ConnCAN works to make education data accessible for parents, educators, advocates and policymakers. Our advocacy is fueled by research and data on what works for students, and we want to make sure that this information is in the hands of those who need it and at the forefront of conversations on education policy in Connecticut.

To help inform and ground decisions about education in data and ensure that policy meets students needs, we produce resources like our Field Guide to Education.



In 2015, our Research & Policy team updated and re-released our most popular data tool, the Field Guide to Education in Connecticut. Last published in 2012, The Field Guide is a one-stop, easy-to-read resource on public education in Connecticut. Compact and compelling, this field-style notebook is available both online and in print, and offers readers access to all the need-to-know data on the state of schools, including: district demographic data, achievement gap rankings, trends in K-12 education, standardized assessments, and graduation rates.

The Field Guide To Education, ConnCAN’s most utilized printed publication to date, has been requested hundreds of times online and distributed at dozens of events in 2015, including a number of ConnCAN hosted Community Conversations, and continues to be available at conncan.org/fieldguide

8% Isn’t Enough: Minority Teacher Recruitment

posted by / January 20, 2016

Supporting Educators of Color



In the 2015 legislative session, ConnCAN and partners worked tirelessly to ensure that children have the opportunity to learn from excellent teachers and school leaders who mirror the richness of diversity of them and their peers. Recent data shows that we have a lot of work to do to meet this goal. While students of color make up nearly half of all students in Connecticut public schools, educators of color make up only 8% of our teaching workforce, and administrators of color make up only 12% of our school leader workforce. In fact, 64% of Connecticut districts report having ZERO administrators of color.

Time and again, we heard from communities and partners their deep concern that far too many Connecticut students lack role models of color in our schools. Research shows that, when taught by teachers of color, students of color show higher student performance, lower suspension and expulsion rates and better school attendance. We also know that all students benefit from diversity in the classroom, helping to build social trust and create a wider sense of community in the school.

Backed by community demand and evidence, we worked to shape, and ultimately pass, legislation to assist the recruitment and retention of high-quality educators of color for our state’s classrooms.

CEO Jennifer Alexander and Director of Research & Policy Yamuna Menon testified before the General Assembly Joint Committee on Education in support of two pieces of legislation, SB 1098 and HB 7021, that were designed to provide cultural competency training to educators, improve teacher preparation so that teachers get the training necessary to succeed in our most challenged schools and districts, and incentivize districts and schools to recruit quality teachers and leaders of color.

…the first time ConnCAN received a signed bill for a piece of legislation we’ve supported since its first draft.


We worked with a coalition of educational advocates and state leaders like Representative Bruce Morris of Norwalk, who submitted testimony and published editorials in support of the legislation. This collective effort ensured that minority teacher recruitment remained a priority throughout the legislative session. Both SB 1098 and HB 7021 passed with unanimous, bipartisan support, and were signed into law by Governor Malloy.

We celebrated this progress last August, when ConnCAN joined parents, teachers, faith leaders and education advocates at the state capitol for Governor Malloy’s ceremonial signing of Public Acts 15-108 and 15-243. In a surprise gesture, CEO Jennifer Alexander received a signed copy of the bill, marking the first time ConnCAN received a signed bill for a piece of legislation we’ve supported since its first draft. We were proud to join so many partners to pass these important laws and look forward to making more progress on these issues in the coming year.

Getting #RDYCT

posted by / January 19, 2016

ConnCAN’s Parent Resource for SBAC Information


RDYCT Graphic AD

Today’s students need to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges. To ensure our children get a great education they can count on, we must give all students the opportunity to reach and exceed high standards that set them up for success in college and career.  For decades, students, particularly our students of color and low-income students, were done a massive disservice with low expectations and low standards that ultimately failed to prepare them for the challenges ahead in higher education. Far too many Connecticut students, as many as 64% of minority, low-income and ELL students need remedial coursework when they get to college. This problem is demoralizing for students and costs our state millions.

Now, Connecticut has implemented of the CT Core Standards. This set of higher expectations for what children need to know and be able to do presents an opportunity for all our children, regardless of what school they attend or what neighborhood they live in, to get the education they need to progress and achieve after high school.

The first, real opportunity for parents to understand where their child is with regards to their college-and career-readiness.


To help us all understand how well students are progressing towards these standards, this year Connecticut received the first student scores from the  Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). This newer, better statewide assessment replaces our state’s legacy exam, the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT). In 2016, all high school students will take the SAT as a substitute for the SBAC. Our state’s move to the SBAC presented a real opportunity for parents to understand how their child is progressing towards high expectations, and the first release of results served as a baseline year from which we can measure growth over time towards college-and-career-readiness for all students.

These brand new results, from a new test, aligned with new, higher standards raised a lot of questions. We heard from families across Connecticut who wanted access to accurate information about the standards and about what their child’s score really means. That’s why ConnCAN helped launch and develop a new microsite, ReadyCT.org, to provide families with clear and accessible information and make sense of what these new standards and tests mean for their children.

We hope this website will help parents and community members who are searching for answers and understanding when it comes to their students’ SBAC results,” said ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander. “This baseline data gives us a new starting point to determine how well our schools and districts are preparing students for the challenges of college and career. Results from this test are one point of data to help improve practice and better serve students.

Built in collaboration with the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, ReadyCT.org is a one-stop parent resource for all things Smarter Balanced. The website includes helpful informational videos, links to key resources from the State Department of Education, and ConnCAN’s in-depth analysis of the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores so parents would have fair and balanced information on the changes in their lives and in the lives of their children. ReadyCT.org and ConnCAN’s state-and-district-level analysis of SBAC results was featured in the New Haven Register and the New London Day.

As of December 2015, ReadyCT.org has been visited by more than 2,500 individuals in over 120 Connecticut cities.

Starting Strong

posted by / January 18, 2016

Launch Of A New Policy Pillar



As this year’s National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores revealed, Connecticut continues to struggle with some of the largest achievement gaps in the country.  If we are serious about closing these gaps, we must recognize that these gaps start early and make sure our youngest students get the quality start they need. Research shows that almost half of the educational achievement gap seen in high school actually starts before kindergarten. That’s why, with your support, we launched a new ConnCAN focus on early childhood education.

Our state’s leaders and Governor have made real efforts to prioritize the development of our youngest students. In the last ten years, Connecticut has increased the number of preschool seats and even created   a state Office of Early Childhood in 2013. But too many families still lack access to high-quality preschool programs and our system is a tangled web of funding streams.  


This year, ConnCAN released our first research report focused on early childhood education. Made possible by a grant from the Grossman Family Foundation and others, “Early Childhood Education in Connecticut: Analysis and Implications” examined the state of early childhood education in our state. The report identified quality programs from outside of the state; offered recommendations on how to improve the current system to better fit the needs of our youngest students; and highlighted a number of providers in Connecticut that are making a real difference in the lives of children.

ConnCAN’s analysis discovered key areas in which our state can improve its to narrow the achievement gap early and mitigate disparities between our toddlers and preschool students.

ConnCAN’s early child education report became one of our most popular products of 2015.  We created a digital flash mob powered by Thunderclap, that garnered over 1 million impressions for #PreK4CT on social media. We distributed the report at a number of key events throughout the year, including the Gesell Institute of Child Development’s Leader’s Forum at Yale University School of Management on the economic development of early childhood. We also hosted an early childhood education panel, featuring national and local experts on early childhood education, including providers from across Connecticut and State Senator Toni Boucher, to discuss and debate how we can move the state towards a more equitable system that works for our youngest students.

You can read the “Early Childhood Education: Analysis and Implications” report and the executive summary at conncan.org/earlychildhood

Where We Stand: The 2015 NAEP Results

posted by / January 17, 2016

The 2015 NAEP Results & Analysis


As always, ConnCAN generated a quick analysis of this year’s National Assessment of Educational  Progress (NAEP) scores. NAEP is our best means of looking at our state’s academic performance within a national context. These scores allowed us to see how Connecticut has progressed since the last score release in 2013. This information also helps us paint a clear picture of the education landscape in our state and understand what steps need to be taken towards improvement. The 2015 results revealed a number of bright spots, and confirmed that more must be done to narrow our most pervasive achievement gaps.

ConnCAN’s quick turnaround analysis of the NAEP scores a reviewed historical trends, revealed some signs of progress, and reported a narrowing of the state’s Hispanic/White achievement gap since 1998 and improvement for English Language Learners (ELL) since 2013.

“Although the NAEP results show some bright spots, they also show that Connecticut’s large achievement gaps persist.” – Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN CEO

Although Connecticut showed higher overall proficiency rates than national average, less than half of our students scored at/above proficient in math or reading in fourth or eighth grade. Our analysis also showed that proficiency rates remain significantly lower for our traditionally underserved student groups, such as low-income students and students of color.

The release of these scores serve as another call to action. Now, more than ever, we must accelerate our work with schools, teachers, state leaders, families and advocates to create a future where all Connecticut students have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Looking Forward

posted by / January 16, 2016


I hope you enjoyed revisiting the highlights from our 10th year of advocacy in our annual report. It was a year of many firsts in our push for great schools for all students across our state. Your support made our first decade of work possible and opened up more opportunities for students to get the great education they need and deserve. As we begin our second decade, we must accelerate our efforts for children and for the civic and economic future of our communities and our state.

Throughout this past year–whether I was testifying alongside students at the Capitol, visiting schools or speaking with students, their parents and educators–I’ve met kids with big dreams for the future. I’m constantly inspired by their hope, imagination and vision. They undoubtedly be the ones to shape our future for the better. I’ve met students like Malakai, who attends Booker T. Washington Academy in New Haven and who dreams of being a paleontologist one day. Like most of the students I meet, there isn’t a doubt in his mind that he can’t accomplish his dreams.

Unfortunately, far too many of our students, particularly students of color and students from low-income households, lack access to the educational opportunities and resources they need to achieve their big dreams. Together, we can change that.

We know there are models across the state where students are thriving academically, regardless of what they look like, where they live or how much money their family makes. It will take us, all of us, to continue and accelerate progress, break down barriers and open up opportunities to make sure that our education system truly delivers on the promise of a great public education to Malakai and all children across Connecticut.

To reach that goal, we need your voice, passion and determination. We face tough challenges in the years ahead. Our efforts to accelerate education improvement will be strained by very real fiscal challenges, sparking fierce political debates over how education dollars will be spent in our state. What’s more, a new federal education law shifts substantial authority from the federal government to states, leaving state-level advocates like us on the front lines to protect and improve upon the progress we’ve made in recent years. It’s up to all of us to ensure our students succeed.

With your help, we can, and must, overcome these challenges. The civic and economic future of Connecticut depends on how well we educate our children. If we want children to be able to fully participate in our democracy, we need to give them the knowledge and skills they’ll need. And, if we want to secure a prosperous future for Connecticut, we must ensure that our kids are prepared to attract, excel in and retain the jobs of tomorrow. For the sake of our children, their families and our state, we simply must continue our fight for educational equity for all.

As we look ahead to 2016 and beyond, we will continue to:

  • Expand and support high-quality public school options for children and families
  • Push to fix our school finance system so that all students are funded equitably, across all types of public schools they choose to attend
  • Continue to support college and career ready standards for our students and ensure that we measure progress towards those standards each year using the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • Support efforts to improve how we prepare recruit and retain great teachers, principals and district leaders, especially candidates of color
  • Provide conditions needed to truly turn around our lowest-performing schools by drawing from promising practices in other states
  • Ensure that quality and diversity of parent choices is front and center as the state seeks to expand early childhood education
  • Build a broad base of support for reform in key communities and build strong partnerships with organizations throughout the state

Our team of passionate, exceptionally skilled and effective staff is dedicated to the work ahead. But, we can’t do it alone.

With you by our side, we know we can turn the vision of a great education for all into a reality. Just look at all we’ve accomplished together in our 10 years of advocacy! Looking forward, let’s make the next decade one where all students across Connecticut have the opportunity to thrive. The future of our communities and our state depends on it.


Jennifer Alexander, CEO


posted by / January 15, 2016



posted by / January 14, 2016


Please click here for ConnCAN’s Statement of Activities


Launching the 2015 Field Guide to Education

Your Personal Compass To All Things Education


Knowledge is power. That’s why ConnCAN works to make education data accessible for parents, educators, advocates and policymakers. Our advocacy is fueled by research and data on what works for students, and we want to make sure that this information is in the hands of those who need it and at the forefront of conversations on education policy in Connecticut.

To help inform and ground decisions about education in data and ensure that policy meets students needs, we produce resources like our Field Guide to Education.



In 2015, our Research & Policy team updated and re-released our most popular data tool, the Field Guide to Education in Connecticut. Last published in 2012, The Field Guide is a one-stop, easy-to-read resource on public education in Connecticut. Compact and compelling, this field-style notebook is available both online and in print, and offers readers access to all the need-to-know data on the state of schools, including: district demographic data, achievement gap rankings, trends in K-12 education, standardized assessments, and graduation rates.

The Field Guide To Education, ConnCAN’s most utilized printed publication to date, has been requested hundreds of times online and distributed at dozens of events in 2015, including a number of ConnCAN hosted Community Conversations, and continues to be available at conncan.org/fieldguide