Kevin Basmadjian, interim dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Education, and Beth Larkins-Strathy, associate dean of the School of Education, are available to comment on the state’s new performance index for public schools.
Basmadjian said, “My primary concerns are how these scores will be interpreted by parents and the public, and how they will be used by state officials. Labeling schools with a single number given the complex nature of public education fails to account for the numerous qualitative differences between prosperous and under-funded schools – for example, the high percentage of transient students who attend schools in low-income neighborhoods. Parents and the general public do not always have full access to this information, so the teachers and students who teach and learn in these “under-performing” schools are unilaterally and unfairly regarded as ineffective or of low quality. If the state uses these scores to determine which schools should receive additional funding in order to meet these nuanced challenges, and can achieve this without stigmatizing schools, then I support this effort. But the history of No Child Left Behind and the identification of “failing schools” is to place all blame on a school’s teachers and administrators, and reduce resources provided to these schools in need rather than support them in their efforts to teach all students.”
Larkins-Strathy said, “In my experience as an administrator and teacher in the Connecticut public schools and as an associate dean in the School of Education, I truly believe that educators in Connecticut want to close the achievement gap and strive daily to improve teaching and learning in their schools and classrooms. I am not so sure the public release of this index is the best route to accomplish this. I am concerned that the best and brightest newly certified teachers could conceivably use the index to apply to the top tier schools, adding to the strong performance at those in the top District Reference Groups (DRG). I am also concerned that upper middle class families may use the index to choose to live in towns with high performing schools adding to the gap between the upper and lower tiers. It’s important to realize that Connecticut teachers/administrators are grappling with the induction of Common Core Standards and the new state evaluation plan at this time. The publication of the index will undoubtedly bring more pressure from both outside and inside the school systems that are not meeting target. Is this a healthy climate for those who teach our children?”
Members of the media interested in speaking with either Basmadjian or Larkins-Strathy should call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449 (cell) or 203-582-5359 (office).