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Annual Board Update

2015-2016


Index From the Executive Director.........................................................................page 1 Agency Goal Updates: Agency Goal 1: Exemplary Programs and Services..............................page 2 Agency Goal 2: Strategic Collaborations .............................................page 14 Agency Goal 3: Knowledge and Skills of Educators............................page 29 EASTCONN’s Six Divisions........................................................................page 38 Program Updates: Adult Programs..............................................................................page 39 Early Childhood Initiatives............................................................page 45 K-12 Student Services....................................................................page 49 Organizational Support Services....................................................page 59 Teaching & Learning Services.......................................................page 66 Technology Solutions.....................................................................page 73 Transportation................................................................................page 79 n

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EASTCONN Administrative Team...............................................................page 81 EASTCONN Board of Directors..................................................................page 82

REGION • AT • A • GLANCE

EASTCONN • AT • A • GLANCE

33..... Communities 36..... School Systems 79..... Schools 234.....Administrators 3,148..... Teachers 39,370..... Students 266,100..... Residents

160.......Programs & Services 550.......Employees 21.......Locations 173,296.......Facilities’ Square Footage 100+.......Student Transport Vehicles $75.4 million......Annual Budget


2015-2016 . . . From the Executive Director Once again, I am delighted to report to our Board of Directors on our progress toward the achievement of our agency goals. And once again, this report is designed to answer 3 important, Results-Based Accountability questions: 1. How MUCH did we do? 2. How WELL did we do it? 3. What DIFFERENCE did it make? As I read through this report I am struck by the many innovative ways that technology is being used across the agency. For example: • Technology Solutions staff outfitted a homebound student with a robot avatar, a fully mobile, video-conferencing platform that enables the student to continue actively participating in classroom activities. • Our Assistive Technology team maintains a resource lending library of the latest, innovative high-tech equipment such as Bluebee Pals, a plush toy that converses with students in conjunction with a wide range of augmentative communication applications.

Paula M. Colen, Executive Director

• Credit Diploma instructors at our 2 regional adult learning centers simulcast fully integrated and co-taught English and Social classes. • Teaching & Learning staff continued to expand blended professional learning options, including online, interactive training videos for TEAM Mentors and Reviewers, online Webinars and virtual coaching. • Thanks to in-classroom Internet access to tablets/iPads, Early Childhood’s Head Start students are able to take virtual field trips to environments they’ve never visited before, like farms, airports and zoos. As budget constraints continue to challenge us, I hope that by harnessing the power of technology we can improve services, while maintaining or reducing costs. Please also read the quotes from those who have taken the time to describe the impact of their many face-to-face interactions with EASTCONN staff. Recently, a letter crossed my desk from Rabbi Philip Lazowski, a Holocaust survivor, who holds middle-school students in our Legacy Explorations Interdistrict Grant spellbound as he describes his escape from Nazi Germany. He wrote, “Words cannot express my heartfelt thanks to you for inviting me to speak at EASTCONN. I enjoy coming year after year and giving my message to the young students. It is because of you that the children learn about the Holocaust.” While the promise of technology is great, the power of personal voice can never be replaced. Warm Regards,

Paula M. Colen Executive Director

Mission: EASTCONN will initiate, support and facilitate partnerships, collaborations and regional solutions that are responsive to the needs of all learners through exemplary programs, products and services. 1


AGENCY GOAL #1

To provide exemplary programs and services for learners, especially those with significant barriers, so each can achieve individual success. “I can honestly say I am a different person than when I walked with my son into that classroom 4 years ago. I have transformed into someone I never thought possible, and I will continue to make a difference in the lives of those around me.” 2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

Economically Disadvantaged Infants & Toddlers Provided center-based Early Head Start services for 40 infants and toddlers, home-based services for 102 infants and toddlers and a locally designed, multi-generational program option for 8 children who had parents attending GED classes while their child was attending the program. This year, 22% of the children enrolled in Early Head Start qualified for Birth to Three services and were on an Individualized Family Service Plan to address developmental delays identified through early screening processes.

Young Children & Their Families

Economically Disadvantaged Pre-K Children Served 273 low-income pre-K children and their families with comprehensive services, including health, nutrition, education, disability, dental, mental health and family support at a total of 14 sites in Tolland and Windham counties through our federally funded Head Start Child Development programs. Our integrated, center-based model, combining Head Start children in regular public school preschool programs, continued to produce significant gains made by all participating children as compared with children attending other, non-integrated programs. After 4 years of professional learning support and implementation of strategies designed to increase executive function and other skills, our Head Start children continued to show significant gains on the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Framework.

Striking evidence of the effectiveness of executive function and other best-practice teaching strategies can be found in our Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms across the region. Infants & Toddlers with Developmental Disabilities EASTCONN’s Birth to Three program served families in 30 of the 33-town EASTCONN catchment area. The provision of these early-intervention services to infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities results in significant developmental gains and special-education savings to our member districts when children transition at age 3. We averaged more than 12 referrals each month, and maintained an ongoing caseload of 64 children per month. Family Survey results were very positive, showing that we’d received 98% positive answers on Federal Guideline questions regarding parental involvement, including their awareness of their rights and responsibilities, their ability to describe and discuss their child’s disability and their knowledge and understanding of child development.

School-Age Children & Their Families High School Students with Special Interests • Students with an Interest in the Performing Arts: 130 students from 38 towns were enrolled at our Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) regional magnet high school. ACT provides a highly student-centered education in a rigorous, arts-infused program that takes into account each individual student’s talents and interests, ensuring that their motivation for learning remains high. The curriculum and performancebased programming at ACT provides interdisciplinary

“Your SLP [speech-language pathologist] was amazing. My daughter went from having 5 words, to speaking in 5-word sentences in a year.” – Parent of a child in the Birth to Three program 2


AGENCY GOAL #1 education in arts and academics, and enhances learning for all students. Integration of arts and academic learning, combined with authentic assessment, has resulted in positive student outcomes, as evidenced by an anticipated 96% graduation rate and many acceptances at first-tier colleges. On average, nearly 80% of ACT students go on to post-secondary study, including college. Of note again this year, ACT students have won awards and recognition from numerous state, regional and national arts contests.

Voluntown, Marlborough and Lebanon, volunteered to pilot the use of the lab for students in grades K-12, and in April 2016, our STEM Lab coordinator provided training to teachers who wished to use the Mobile STEM Lab as a learning experience for students. Of note, on April 26, approximately 38 students in 2 Voluntown 8th-grade classes used the lab to work on their climate change curriculum. In addition, staff members in EASTCONN’s Clinical Day Treatment programs received training for future use of the lab. K-12 Students with Special Needs Student Services offers a continuum of services throughout the region for students with a wide spectrum of challenging academic, behavioral and social/emotional needs. From onsite professional development, training and consultations for educators supporting in-district students to our regional Clinical Day Treatment programs, we offer a full range of student support. Using data-based decision-making, we build district capacity toward the ultimate goal of least-restrictive environments.

• Students Benefiting from a Highly Structured, Therapeutic Learning Environment: Our 3 regional Clinical Day Treatment (CDT) sites were fully enrolled with more than 100 students from 30 different sending districts. Quinebaug Middle College offers motivated, non-traditional We added 1 additional classroom to our site in Plainfield, learners a chance to simultaneously earn both a high school deincreasing our overall capacity by 7 students. These programs gree and an associate’s degree at an on-site community college. served students, ages 5-19, with significant social, emotional and behavioral challenges and provided them with highly individualized and structured academic instruction and • Independent Learners who Thrive in Rigorous Learning clinical support. Of note, approximately 10% of our students Environments: Located on a college campus and featuring returned to less restrictive settings and 12 a student-driven democratic learning seniors in our CDT programs were on track community, our Quinebaug Middle College to graduate in June 2016. (QMC) regional magnet high school enrolled Middle 178 students from 18 different towns in • Students with Autism & other College its rigorous, humanities-rich and STEMDevelopmental Disabilities: Our inclusionStudents integrated program, with additional access driven, regional autism programming earned to college courses at no cost; 139 QMC provided direct services to students, both students enrolled in QVCC-aligned courses in-district and at our center-based program, for college credit, resulting in a combined as well as via on-site, in-district coaching Credits total of 852 college credits earned by QMC for school personnel. This year, enrollment students in the fall and spring semesters. increased by more than 40% for the second – A $1.4-million federal grant, in its third year in a row, with 10 students from 7 year at QMC, has expanded the STEM-infused curriculum districts receiving comprehensive educational and behavioral and supported the launch of the QMC Mobile STEM services during the school year, in addition to extended, Lab, providing authentic STEM education opportunities school-year programming. for QMC students, as well as other districts in the region. Several districts in the northeastern region, including

College

“QMC is a great school. Teachers are respectful, helpful and willing to take time to help you one on one. This school helped me a lot and didn’t give up on me. It helped encourage me to do my work and earn credits and be successful.” – Zack A., a Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) student “[Your] AT consultants have ensured that all students have access to their grade level curricula … Our relationship with the AT team has helped our students as well as our staff to meet our goals of providing universal design for learning.” – Leslie Wolfenden, Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology District Coordinator, Manchester Public Schools 3


AGENCY GOAL #1 • Students with Related Services Needs: 589 students, from preschool to age 21, from 21 of our districts, benefited from direct and/or classroom-based therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech-language services.

augmentative communication programs to encourage young children to embrace the use of their speech-generating device. • Students Benefiting from Behavioral Supports: Our Psychological and Behavioral Consultation Services (PBCS) team supported school-based teams in 21 area districts through Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), designed to benefit a range of students’ needs from individual to school-wide supports, including academic, behavioral, social, functional and adaptive skills. Systems-based development and implementation of behavioral supports, the application of skills modeled and practiced in training, as well as independent implementation of strategic problem-solving, has resulted in improvements in student outcomes, including: improvements in scores on implementation of tiered academic and behavioral supports; reduction in behavioral issues; and increases in social, adaptive and functional skills among students with complex profiles and intensive needs. District special education costs are greatly reduced when students receive early, high-quality, in-district support.

• High School Students with Intellectual & other Developmental Disabilities: EASTCONN’s Woodstock An autism student examines Bluebee Pal, an interactive AssisAcademy Cooperative, a collaborative program between tive Technology educational tool that stimulates communication. Woodstock Academy and EASTCONN, provided services for 7 high-school-age students from 3 different districts in the • Students with Assistive Technology (AT) Needs: 27 districts region, who have intellectual disabilities and other significant received AT services to assist students, from preschool developmental disabilities. All students increased their use of to age 21, with communication and assistive technology technology through the Woodstock Academy iPad Initiative tools and resources to mitigate and spent more time in the community educational challenges that impede applying their math and literacy skills. What difference did it make? their ability to access, participate and This year, a Woodstock Academy progress in the general education “I have seen big changes in A. Cooperative student who is a member curriculum. Through our grant with of the Academy’s chorus attended since he came to the [Autism] the Connecticut Technology Act its school-sponsored trip to Walt program ... A. likes school and we were able to bring the latest in Disney World, and several students looks forward to going.” technology innovations to the region’s participated in a school-wide music school district and their students. concert. For example, following the recent • Young Adults with Disabilities Transitioning Out of national Assistive Technology Conference, our AT lending Special Education Services: EASTCONN’s Regional library purchased several of the latest items featured at the Transition Services (RTS), located on the campus of conference, including wireless switches, apps that allow QVCC, served 7 students, ages 18-21, with a broad range students to take a picture of worksheets and other materials of disabilities. Several students made great gains in both the so they can complete them on their device using word amount and type of work that they were able to perform. processing and/or speech input. One of the most innovative Students provided each other with support for achieving goals, items purchased for the library is a stuffed animal called such as self-advocacy and technology. Students learned to use Bluebee Pal that works in conjunction with a wide range of “I am very pleased. I have seen big changes in A. since he came to the [Autism] program. I am glad to see his needs are being met because for a long time they were not. I am very pleased with the staff and teachers in the program. I know A. is going to get better and better. Since coming to the program, A. likes school and looks forward to going.” – Parent of a student in the EASTCONN Autism Program “My son J. started EASTCONN at the end of September. He had been having behavioral issues and needed more help than his school could give him. Within the first two months, we noticed a change in behavior and he has been doing extremely well at home and at school. The teachers are caring, understanding, and helpful with any questions or concerns that I have, and my son looks forward to going to school everyday.” – T.A., Parent of a Clinical Day Treatment (CDT) student 4


AGENCY GOAL #1 technology to assist them in accomplishing tasks throughout their day. In addition, technology etiquette, Internet and social media safety was emphasized on an on-going basis. Students increased their awareness of their own disabilities and how to manage them, allowing for participation in a broader range of employment and community settings. Strong partnerships have been developed with families, QVCC Student Support Services and adult service providers, including the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), which helped provide successful transition-to-adulthood supports for each participant in their post-school education. Of the 4 RTS students who will graduate in June, 1 successfully earned 6 QVCC college credits, 2 have accepted group-support jobs, and 1 gained competitive employment.

and recent graduates participated in this program operated collaboratively with New London Youth Affairs and Norwich Human Services. Funded by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB), this program is designed to keep youth in school, while providing career and post-secondary pathways. Of note: 100% of participants produced a career portfolio; 95% completed an internship; 98% of in-school participants went on to graduate from high school, and 88% entered employment, post-secondary education or the military, upon completion.

• Homebound Students: An EASTCONN partner district came to EASTCONN with a unique challenge: A student, homebound with a medical problem, wanted to participate in as many classroom activities as he could. EASTCONN provided and supported a robot avatar, a fully mobile videoconferencing platform that allowed the student to participate in class from home. The student remotely guided the robot from class to class, using a Web-based control panel from a laptop. The laptop camera displayed his face to the class, while the robot camera provided him with a view of the classroom. The system allowed collaborative interaction during programmed instructional periods, and also allowed socialization opportunities with other students.

Economically disadvantaged in-school youth from New London to Windham gained invaluable work skills and connections through our Summer Youth Employment and Training program. • Summer Youth Employment & Training: 417 economically disadvantaged in-school youth participated in the 2015 EWIB-funded summer program. Collaborators included New London Youth Affairs and Norwich Human Services. Additional funders included the State Department of Children and Families (supporting 58 youth), Mystic Aquarium (supporting 8 youth) and local foundations (supporting 40+ youth). Of note: 97% of participants completed the Employability Skills Training component; 90% completed the program; and 95% either returned to school, enrolled in post-secondary education, or entered employment. In addition, 131 work-sites were developed in 18 eastern Connecticut communities, where 92% of the youth participants complied with employer expectations of punctuality, 94% had regular attendance, 90% displayed positive relationships with supervisors and 88% completed projects with attention to detail and direction. Finally, 90% learned new job skills and 96% felt better prepared for a future job.

• Students Traveling to Out-Placement Programs: Transported 325 special needs students and 150 regular education students from 20 districts last year, and began piloting a regional, online database of outplacement destinations designed to encourage shared runs. Our Transportation Department continued to assist districts, as well as other public agencies, in reducing the barriers that individuals with special needs have in accessing their programs. Our services are customized to the needs of the individual, whether that’s by using one of our 10 wheelchair-accessible vehicles or by providing additional paraprofessional support on their vehicle. Economically Disadvantaged Youth with Employment & Training Needs • High School Students & Recent Graduates: 100 economically disadvantaged high school juniors, seniors

“We appreciate the opportunities that our students have in this program. With access to typical high school experiences as well as specialized services, students with significant disabilities acquire skills that broaden their horizons. The availability of other EASTCONN services and the collaboration among the service providers further develops students’ achievement.” – Mary Jo Chretien, Director of Pupil Services, Pomfret Community School & Eastford Public Schools “The internships are a good experience for the youth, especially those interested in health care. It really helps them get comfortable with this type of setting.” – Claire Chesmer, Activity Director, Douglas Manor, who hired students through our Summer Youth Employment program 5


AGENCY GOAL #1 employment and training workshops and 662 others participated in our community education programs.

Racially Isolated Students A total of 2,800 students, grades 2-12, and 100+ of their teachers from 15 different districts benefited from one of our 10 CSDE-funded Interdistrict Grants. Students from racially isolated rural districts joined peers from racially isolated urban districts to engage in authentic, project-based learning that integrated core academic study with multi-cultural education. Upon completion of the program, 82% increased academic knowledge and 89% increased their knowledge of bullying and acceptance of and respect for others.

Adults Seeking a High School Credential Across our 3 high school credentialing programs, 415 students were enrolled and 60 are on track to graduate in June 2016. A high school diploma is a necessary credential for most continuing education opportunities and jobs that offer a living wage. Because our adult learners have widely varying educational backgrounds and life experiences, we offer 3 high school credential program options to best match their unique needs and educational goals. They are: the GED; the Adult High School Credit Diploma; and the National External Diploma Program (NEDP).

Adult Learners & Their Families

Adult English Language Learners The English Language Learner (ELL) population continued to increase across our region and limited English proficiency was a significant barrier to their continued education, vocational training and employment opportunities; 248 students were enrolled in our programs this year. Our ELL classes wove English language instruction into the practical, everyday activities that students could navigate when they are out in the community. In addition to traditional textbooks and teacher-generated materials, the classes used newspapers, store circulars, community promotions, surveys and forms from local businesses and non-profit agencies as tools for instruction.

Adult learners in our Spanish GED classes can earn a high school degree and improve their English proficiency, which dramatically brightens their lifetime income-earning potential.

• Jump Start: Our partnership with UCONN Jump Start, in collaboration with Head Start, has allowed us to offer an evening ESL class to 29 higher-level ELL students in need of childcare. While the adults worked on raising their English While each of the adult learners we serve has a unique profile skills to the level needed for professional advancement, and life story, they all face common barriers to self-sufficiency their children received dinner provided by Windham Public as a result of their educational Schools and quality care by UCONN and economic disadvantages. To students, supervised by Head Start Interdistrict Grant Programs ensure that each adult student has staff. the support they need to succeed, • Bilingual Support & Outreach: Students we offer a wide and comprehensive In an effort to increase participation increased their continuum of services through our in our program, we dedicated highly personalized, student-centered Academic Knowledge resources to hiring outreach staff approach to learning. and developing Spanish-language Students program and recruitment materials. increased Acceptance & Overview We provided a Spanish-language Respect for others Across all our adult and community First Aid/CPR certification course programs this year, we served a total of through an ESL class to certify 1,485 adult learners, up almost 8% from last year, including 671 20 participants, Spanish-language transition services, who attended free classes offered in high school credentialing, and Spanish-language program advising. Our expanded English-as-a-Second-Language, American citizenship engagement in the Spanish-speaking community has resulted preparation, life/basic skills instruction, and employment/ in increased enrollments, greater retention and enhanced college transition support; another 152 adults enrolled in partnerships. “EASTCONN is amazing. I’m 35 and decided to go back and get my official high school diploma … I have now been attending for 3 months and am well on the way to my goal. The teachers are super knowledgeable and I always look forward to coming to class. I would recommend EASTCONN to anyone looking for a pleasant and positive environment in which to learn and better yourself.” – Doug Vining Jr., GED student 6


AGENCY GOAL #1 another for a declining population Adults with Employment & How well did we do it? of school-age children. Vocational Training Needs We continue to be the largest provider “[My teacher] is always making Aging Population of employment and training programs sure that everyone understands The population in our region is for economically disadvantaged adults aging. With fewer young families, what he is teaching.” in the northeastern Connecticut region we will continue to see declines through the Eastern Connecticut in public school enrollments, Workforce Investment Board (EWIB), which will further stress our small this year administering $1.73 million in contracts. Of note: districts’ capacity to meet the diverse needs of their students. • Vocational Skills Training: Through our programs, a total In addition, as enrollments decline, so, too, will financial of 480 unemployed and under-employed, economically resources available to support the needs of students, whether disadvantaged adults attained the educational and vocational for professional staff development, specialized staff support skills and credentials needed to access further training and/ for students or other educational services needed to meet the or better-paying jobs; 53% obtained employment upon needs of their students. State Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) completion. Certifications included Microsoft Office dollars are being reduced and local budgets are strained as Specialist, National Retail Foundation Customer Service and fewer taxpayers have children in the school system and as more Sales, ServSafe, as well as specialized trainings for Certified of them struggle to meet the rising costs of living on fixed Nursing Assistant (CNA), Commercial Driver License (CDL) incomes. In response, we are challenged to find more costand Cosmetology. effective ways to help our districts address their growing needs. • Integrated Basic Education & Skills Training (I-BEST): Offered Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and National Retail Foundation (NRF) Customer Service and Sales certifications at 4 locations. New this year was an ESL Customer Service class in Willimantic for parents participating in the family literacy program at Kramer Early Childhood Center; 13 participants will take the NRF test in June. Unlike our programs funded with basic adult education grants, we were able to serve individuals who have their high school diploma, but who lack the basic skills needed to find and retain employment, a population of learners who are at high risk for underemployment or unemployment.

2015-2016 Challenges Early childhood programs produce quantifiable results that improve youngsters’ chances for school and lifetime success.

Changing Demographics The composition of our state and our region is changing significantly. Connecticut’s population of school-age children declined by 3.46% between 2010 and 2015, and is projected to decline an additional 10% by 2025. Young people are moving to urban areas in search of employment and affordable housing. Economic recovery has been slow in northeastern Connecticut, resulting in job losses and stagnating wages. Another challenge is the increasing number of residents whose primary language is increasingly varied. Public school choice has created an additional challenge as schools are now competing with one

Early Childhood Expansion Strains Capacity One of the exceptions to declining student enrollment is found in the early grades, where the expansion of full-day kindergarten and more full-day preschool options is straining the capacity of districts to meet the range of parent needs and preferences. Expansion of preschool in some communities has impacted enrollment levels at community programs. Looming state budget deficits present additional challenges as the state has

“The teacher is extremely patient. He helps us a lot. He is always making sure that everyone understands what he is teaching. Every day I say ... how incredibly thankful I am for his patience.” – Adult English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) student “I want to again thank you for the support you have shown I. and our family during our time with Birth to Three. We appreciate all your hard work and success. We will miss you greatly.” – The Lamontagnes, Parents of a child enrolled in Birth to Three program 7


AGENCY GOAL #1 citizenship process.

recommended that part-day programming be re-prioritized for school-day/school-year instead. This will impact the number of children served overall and financially strain districts’ resources and space utilization.

• Increased Need for Pre-K ELL Support: Increasingly, we have been called upon to provide support to districts or preschool programs when English Language Learners (ELL) have enrolled. We need to build the capacity of early childhood providers across the region to better meet the needs of their young English Language Learners and their families. • Capacity to Meet Magnet School ELL Needs: As we continue to expand the diversity of our student body, we sometimes lack the capacity to fully meet the needs of all our English Language Learners and their families. While we have made great progress in providing Spanish language materials, many of our promotional and informational materials are not available in multiple languages, making full access and engagement a challenge. Increasing Mental/Social/Emotional Health Needs Mental health demands continue to grow across all student age groups, both in frequency and severity. Many teachers have not been trained to address the mental health needs of children and their families, and we have limited numbers of skilled practitioners and resources in our agency or across the regional social services system available to support them.

English-as a-Second-Language classes help non-native speakers master English with far-reaching, positive consequences. Increasing English Language Learner (ELL) Challenges Our region is rapidly becoming more diverse with growing populations of English Language Learners, both in the pre-K-12 systems, as well as in our adult education and employment/training programs. These learners are coming from diverse cultural backgrounds and their primary languages are increasingly diverse, as well. Resources to support duallanguage learners are exceptionally scarce. Many of our smaller districts are without any educators certified to teach speakers of other languages. We need to build our own, as well as the region’s, capacity to respond to cultural and language differences. We need to provide immediate support to districts, while also promoting long-term, capacity-building solutions.

• Young Children and Their Families: We are continuing to see a rise in mental health challenges in very young children. The resources to support teachers, families and children are extremely limited within our region and there are few skilled practitioners who have the expertise to handle mental health and behavioral concerns in young children. • K-12 Students: Mental health needs are increasing in public schools as well, contributing to the rise in our center-based program enrollment; 100% of students in our Clinical Day Treatment programs, as well numerous students in our magnet schools, have diagnosed mental health needs.

• Adult English Language Learners: Over the past year, we have continued to see an increased number of students with very low literacy levels in their native language, as well as little-to-no experience in formal school settings. This challenge has been compounded by the federal shift from WIA to WIOA, which has mandated an increased focus on embedding career pathways and job readiness throughout the program, regardless of content and level. We must address the challenge of developing curriculum and programming that bridges the gap, strengthening language and literacy, developing comfort and understanding with educational, work and government settings, and preparing students for the

Drop-out Policies As schools narrow their curricular focus to core academic subjects, there are fewer resources to support the arts and/ or other extracurricular programs, like sports, which could engage students for whom pure academics are not enough. That can lead to students who under-perform, become overaged and under-credited, which can result in attendance and/or behavioral problems. For some, the best public school option is adult education, where they can combine their studies with other pursuits, such as raising a family and earning a living. Under current state policy, students who transfer from high

“I can honestly say I am a different person than when I walked with my son into that classroom 4 years ago. I have transformed into someone I never thought possible, and I will continue to make a difference in the lives of those around me.” – Alicia T., Head Start parent “Believe in EASTCONN because they will help you achieve.”

– Spanish GED student

“My experiences with EASTCONN have been outstanding, and I am very happy and proud for being part of it.” – Yasmin, Student enrolled in Spanish GED program 8


AGENCY GOAL #1 school to an adult education high school credentialing program are counted by districts as drop-outs, unless they attain a high school credential (excluding GED) within a year of leaving high school. As a result, these students are not always encouraged to consider adult education options. Many drop out anyway, and then lack the high school credential they need to continue their education or obtain employment. While we offer 3 different high school credentialing programs, we do not enroll all who are eligible, and more importantly, all who would likely experience greater academic success in a different learning environment.

have put the continued viability of our regional magnet schools in question. There has been no increase in state funding for magnet schools in our region for the 5th consecutive year. Given the current state budget crisis, this is unlikely to change. At the same time, our magnet school operating costs continue to rise due to increases in wages, maintenance and utilities. When we are forced to raise tuition to cover these expenses, that financial burden is then shifted to our sending districts. It is difficult to fully endorse and promote school choice when the expense of doing so has become so difficult for our member districts to accommodate.

Economic Constraints Declining enrollment in almost every district results in less state and federal funding, even though there are greater demands for resources, both because of new education mandates and a marked increase in learners who have significant barriers to accessing their educational programming. With continued slow economic recovery, taxpayers and local officials must keep expenses down, and district budgets have not increased in proportion to the rising cost of their operations. The majority of district resources are static, leaving district leaders with little discretionary funding to pay for the professional learning necessary to help staff accommodate the rising number of students with barriers to learning. Out-placement tuitions and transportation costs put extreme pressure on local budgets.

What difference did it make?

“I work ... I have to wake up at 4 a.m., and I have 3 kids ... but the confidence and knowledge that I get here [in Adult Education] is worth the sacrifice.” Adult Learner Barriers When students share barriers, we refer to appropriate agencies. However, it is a challenge to move from identification of need to long-term solutions that stabilize and support the learner’s continued pursuit of academic progress. For example, we have struggled to provide consistent educational services to those learners who are engaged with the shelter system and do not have stable housing. Additionally, for some students, social services prioritize attaining short-term goals over progress toward long-term goals (e.g. the securing of a part-time hourly minimum-wage job over completion of a high school credential). Available Funding for Professional Learning It is difficult to provide cost-effective regional training to districts that want to build their capacity to more effectively serve students with significant barriers to learning, given their increasingly limited budgets. As schools struggle with the cost of substitutes, travel and workshop expenses, they are participating in fewer events and sending fewer educators when they do. The availability of substitute teachers is a related challenge. Fewer participants result in a higher cost per participant for us.

ACT arts magnet high school students rehearse their lines for an upcoming production, one of many offered by the small, regional school, whose curriculum allows students with diverse interests to focus on theater, audio/video, dance or creative writing. Magnet School Funding Alternatives to the 14 comprehensive high schools across northeastern Connecticut allow our region to accommodate the diverse learning needs of students in the 36 communities we serve. In partnership with our member districts, we created 2 regional magnet high schools. However, state funding policies and constraints, combined with local district budget constraints,

Agency Regionalization While Windham and Tolland counties suffer from a welldocumented lack of community resources compared to the rest of the state, there are quality agencies, initiatives and programs that are designed to provide support and aid to families in

“If someone asked me why they should go to school at EASTCONN, I would tell them that in only 2 1/2 hours a day they can take a lot of knowledge home. I work every day, I have to wake up at 4:00 am, and I have 3 kids … yes, I sacrifice myself but it’s totally worth it. The confidence and knowledge that I get here is worth the sacrifice.” – Adult English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) student 9


AGENCY GOAL #1 these communities. Unfortunately, due to decreased funding, many community programs have chosen to regionalize their services in order to accommodate budget cuts, while still trying to provide the recommended level of needed services. When services are regionalized, rather than being located in each community, families face greater traveling distances, longer waiting lists, greater commuting time, limited hours of operation, and more. In instances where services have ended in the Windham area, many families have had to forego receiving them.

and education classes (I-BEST) for Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) recipients, has been removed from the budget. JFES is a program for adults and out-of-school minor recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families that helps them gain and maintain independence from federal and state financial assistance; JFES provides the necessary services and skills clients need to secure employment before their benefits expire after 21 months.

economically disadvantaged adults

Regional Special Education Transportation credentials they needed to Specially equipped vehicles designed for transporting special get better-paying jobs Public Transportation needs populations are costly. Distances between rural In addition, we have had recurring difficulty recruiting and communities are sometimes great, and public transportation retaining highly qualified drivers, which makes our ability is extremely limited in our region. As a result, transportation to respond to unexpected district transportation needs very continues to be a barrier for many families who need services, challenging. Although fuel costs have decreased, the cost seek resources or who want to take advantage of training of transportation to distant out-placements is expensive for opportunities or educational programming. While transportation districts. Often, our smaller districts have only 1 or 2 students is sometimes available through other organizations, it is not traveling to these destinations, resulting in a very high cost per always well coordinated and clients are not always made aware pupil. of the opportunities. earned the

2016-2017 Plans & Implications Advocacy We will continue to: advocate for greater resources for the region; collaborate with community partners; build capacity in our member districts; and increase our internal agency capacity to respond. Capacity Building In order to best serve this changing population of learners, we must help our districts expand their capacity to meet the needs of all the students in their schools, especially those with the most significant barriers, now and in the future. At the same time, we need to expand our own ability and capacity to provide that assistance. While our goal is to help districts educate all their students in local schools, there will continue to be a need for center-based programs where our highly qualified specialists can work in collaboration with district personnel in providing the individualized support and educational programming that some special needs students require to be successful. Whenever possible, these placements will be temporary and located in or near the sending district.

An EASTCONN Adult Programs GED student, center, was named CAACE’s Student of the Year, honoring his indomitable spirit, his determination and his success in earning his diploma. Reduction in Funding for Adult Programs As the state struggles with budget issues, pilot training-program funding for the highly successful, integrated basic skills

“QMC has defined my education, rebuilt my views on education and is a cornerstone of what could potentially revolutionize education. I love this school and it has given me the means in which to get the best education possible.” – Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) student “Our daughter has grown significantly while enrolled in Regional Transition Services. She is more independent in caring for herself and in her ability to perform additional chores within the home. She is learning independent skills such as operating a washing machine, and simple cooking tasks. By working together, it is our hope that she will acquire enough independence to allow her to be on her own for a few hours.” – Doreen and Antonia M., Parents of a student in the Regional Transition Services Program 10


AGENCY GOAL #1 and language differences. This will occur through the Title III Consortium and other regional offerings.

English Language Learners (ELL) • Young Dual Language Learners: We plan to develop trainthe-trainer modules in collaboration with a national consultant with expertise on building cultural competencies and working with dual-language learners.

• Marketing & Communications: We will expand our capacity to communicate in multiple languages to ensure that more of our English Language Learners and their families have full access to information about our programs and services.

• Magnet School ELL: EASTCONN’s magnet schools and programs will collaborate with the Teaching & Learning division to provide instructional and assessment resources, as well as professional learning, to better address the needs of our ELL students.

Social/Emotional Health • Tier 1 Support for Young Children: Our Early Childhood Initiatives staff will work with a developmental, socialemotional model and introduce the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children as a Tier 1 strategy for early childhood programs in the region. The Pyramid Model is a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices developed by 2 eminent, national, research and training centers. Based on evaluation data over the last 8 years, the Pyramid Model has proved to be a sound framework for early care and education systems. • Regional Mental Health Summit: Plans for a Mental Health Summit are underway to address the increase in challenging behaviors in classrooms, and as a means to identify causes, find strategies to address them, and create systematic approaches to solving larger issues.

Teachers of English Language Learners build their capacity to help students during intense workshops focused on best practice.

• DHMAS Partnership: In an effort to address the mental health challenges young children experience, Head Start will expand its partnership with Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to provide our Head Start services at the New Life Center, a residential treatment facility in Putnam.

• Post-Secondary Transition of Adult ELL: We will continue to expand our ELL program support through counseling and transition services, job development and contextualized instruction (ELL Customer Service), with a particular • K-12 Consultation & Training: Our Psychological and emphasis on the successful transition Behavioral Services Consultation team of students from our programs to will continue to work with district What difference did it make? Quinebaug Valley Community personnel to increase their capacity to College. We will continue to explore “This [Head Start] program gave identify and respond to Tier 1, 2 and strategies for ensuring a smooth her the cultural & language 3 student needs. In addition, we will transition from Adult Education increase our capacity to provide crisis skills that simply made her a ELL to college-level ELL and plan intervention training and support to regular American girl.” to collaborate on the design of a districts. program to train teachers for Adult • EASTCONN Programs: Our Clinical Education ELL certification. Day Treatment and Autism programs will continue to enhance • Professional Development: Expanding our capacity to their multi-tiered systems of support in order to increase our provide professional development for teachers, as well as capacity to support students with more significant behavioral direct instructional support to students, is a growing priority needs. in order to ensure that we have the expertise needed to support • Consultation & Training: We are exploring ways of our districts’ ELL challenges. We will expand professional increasing the availability of staff with expertise in social and development opportunities that better prepare teachers across emotional learning for our districts. the region to address the needs of students who have cultural “In our immigrant household, English is the third language as we speak French and Duala primarily. It is a standard practice in Vernon Public Schools to give a language test to children entering kindergarten who live in an environment where English is not the first language. S. passed the test with high marks, thanks to her enrollment in the Head Start Program of the Vernon Preschool Collaborative for two years. This program gave her the cultural and language skills that simply made her a regular American girl.” – Dr. Lembe Tiky, Parent of a Head Start student in EASTCONN’s Vernon Preschool Collaborative 11


AGENCY GOAL #1 Transportation

while seeking alternative funding sources to support them. We will also continue advocating for changes in policies and • Magnet School Transportation: Continue to work with our procedures that are preventing learners in our region from district partners and families in an effort to find cost-effective experiencing academic success, from the definition of “dropregional solutions to magnet school transportation challenges. out” to the assigning of universal • Regional Special Education I.D. numbers that enable us to more Transportation: Continue How well did we do it? effectively track student progress to increase the number of across educational systems. “The thoroughness of their districts participating in a information & data gives the regionally coordinated system Collaborating with Mental of transportation, particularly district & parent a clear picture of Health Services Providers of children with special needs. where the student started & what • Comprehensive Assessment: Continue to work collaboratively they have achieved ...” We will continue to work with the with districts in identifying UCONN Psychological Services more shared routes to cut costs Clinic for observations, training and and increase efficiencies by referrals of children who require comprehensive assessment encouraging them to utilize the regional database that we services in our Early Head Start and Head Start programs. developed for this purpose. Expand the Transportation Department’s Web pages to facilitate the ease of sharing • Trauma-Informed Care: We’ll continue to collaborate information with districts, to improve communication and the with DCF to provide trauma-informed care in partnership coordination of runs. with Windham Early Childhood Center and UCONN Psychological Services Clinic, specifically for young children from Willimantic who have experienced trauma.

• Satellite Locations: Continue to expand programming at satellite locations for our students, of all ages, to increase accessibility and options for participation.

• Collaborating with Other Providers: Take full advantage of services available from other community providers for clientele that we share. For example, some of our partners offer transportation support, whether it’s rides to class, rides to work for up to 60 days, or funds for a driver’s license, insurance or car repairs. Advocacy & Collaboration Advocacy We will continue to shine a spotlight on the needs of northeastern Connecticut, and especially our most vulnerable citizens. Given anticipated budget shortfalls, state resources will likely be reduced, especially in human services, and the small towns in our region will be significantly impacted. Unlike large cities, our needs are not always visible and rarely rise to the top of the state priority list. We will continue keeping decisionmakers aware of our region’s needs and unique challenges,

Clinical Day Treatment students benefit from interventions and teaching strategies that include the latest technology tools. • EASTCONN Schools: – Clinicians from the Clinical Day Treatment programs will actively engage with mental health providers from

“Over the years, I have placed children at EASTCONN EVC, SRP, and NRP [clinical day treatment] programs. I have had wonderful experiences at all sites with both teachers and administrators and highly recommend their programs. If there is an opening, my first choice for placement is EASTCONN for many reasons. The emphasis at most CDT schools is behavior, and academics are a distant second place. That is not the reality at EASTCONN because their goals and expected outcomes far exceed other CDT schools ... The thoroughness of their information and data gives the district and the parent a clear picture of where the student started, what they have achieved, and what the future goals and plans are for that student … Another wonderful feature of EASTCONN is the communication between administration, staff and home. The staff is caring and nurturing, but not enabling. Their relationship-based approach to education is very successful for students who have never experienced this in larger programs. The small staff-to-student ratio allows each child to grow and achieve at their own rate and experience personal success.” – Susan S. Daly, Surrogate parent, Connecticut State Department of Education 12


AGENCY GOAL #1 community health agencies and social service agencies to provide services for students under their care.

is the formation of a library of therapeutic equipment that therapists can try out with students to determine whether these resources will be effective for each individual. This allows districts to be confident prior to purchase that expensive devices, such as seating options to enhance student’s posture and motor control, will be effective.

– Staff members in the Autism Program will actively work with the Department of Developmental Services to ensure student access to needed services outside of the school setting. – A neuropsychologist will be hired to support the mental health assessment and intervention needs of students across all EASTCONN programs/schools, as well as to assist our member-district schools with their neurological assessments and implementation strategies.

Older Learners Recognizing that the general population in our memberdistrict communities is aging, we will look at ways to better serve them and assess how to better utilize their skills and life experiences in support of our core mission. We will be looking at our regional Community Education Program as a vehicle for offering technology and other new learning opportunities. In addition, we are expanding multi-generational learning opportunities and exploring new approaches to learning, such as community “maker-space” opportunities, in which mature and experienced craftsmen can mentor peers, as well as young innovators.

Saving Through Innovation To continue addressing the needs of low-incidence populations in a time of rising need and diminishing resources, we will look for innovative solutions that meet or exceed quality standards at a reduced cost to our member districts. We will harness the power of technology to drive innovation that results in higher quality, increased options and lower costs. We will continue to provide a variety of programming, both in-district and in center-based locations, that addresses the special needs of lowincidence populations who present the greatest challenges to our member districts. At the same time, we will continue supporting districts’ capacity to operate their own programming in a highquality, cost-effective manner. New/Expanded K-12 Programming: • Using Robot Avatars to Support Special Student Needs: We will assess our recent pilot project, where a student, who was homebound due to medical needs, was able to continue participating in classroom activities through the use of a robot avatar, to determine whether this strategy could be useful for other districts and in other situations. • Motor Competence: The Related Services Group (RSG) is increasingly working in collaboration with classroom teachers in the early grades to enhance student motor development and competence, an integral factor in student success. The continued national discussion about young children’s lack of experience with “tummy time,” due to the increasing use of child seats and walkers, has led to the need for addressing and supporting the visual, perceptual and fine-motor abilities of young students. RSG staff is helping to address this need in increasing numbers through motor groups in pre-K through the early grades. Developing these skills can enhance a student’s ability to manage the academic demands of learning to read and write.

Parents involved in our Windham-region Two-Generational (2Gen) Program, tour area service agencies, learning how to effectively navigate daunting state and local bureaucracies. Two-Generation (2Gen) Initiative We will continue expanding 2Gen approaches that support many of the challenges faced when working with vulnerable populations. A coordinated effort to build a regional, multigenerational continuum of high-quality, integrated services and programming that increase the educational success, economic security, community connections, and health-and-well-being of eligible children, parents and families will lead to cost-saving measures that build supports and contribute to the greater good of communities.

• Measuring Effectiveness: Building on the success of the AT Resource Library, one of the new initiatives within the RSG

“The opportunities to explore science topics aligned to the new science standards was exciting and very helpful. This year’s lesson with owl pellets … will be part of the students’ memories forever. One student’s reaction when first working with the pellets was disgust. He wouldn’t touch them without gloves. By the end of the lesson he was ready to dig in and said after that he won’t be nervous to try something new again.” – Windham Public School teacher, whose students participated in EASTCONN’s Farming the Land and Sea Interdistrict Grant 13


AGENCY GOAL #2

To engage in strategic collaborations that result in positive outcomes for learners. “I am especially pleased with how [your staff] is working with me to blend the plan we already have for a student with new ideas and providing consistency and structure to the student’s program. This is just what was needed.” 2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

items in excess of $3 million last year through the cooperative. The average savings was between 10-15% (valued at more than $300,000-$450,000), depending on which items were purchased; for example, members taking advantage of our copier contract saved 10%, on average, below state pricing. Members using our cafeteria equipment, office supply and custodial suppliers obtained exceptional pricing and rebates; vendors returned $16,000+ in rebates to our members. Cafeteria equipment sales, now in their second year with us, saw a 100% increase in volume.

Member District Partnerships & Collaborations Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) This regional health insurance collaborative of 4 municipalities, 4 school districts and EASTCONN, is concluding a successful 4th year. Savings to all ECHIP members averaged 10%, with comparable savings anticipated for next year. All members continued to take advantage of an expanding menu of wellness initiatives that are designed to encourage employees’ healthy living. The collaborative is exploring the addition of other areas of health coverage, including student accident insurance and dental insurance. ECHIP is also preparing to launch a brand new wellness Web site and programming for fall 2016.

Adult Education Consortium As a result of long-standing and voluntary collaboration, a regional consortium of 21 districts continued to offer a wide range of basic adult education services at a variety of locations across the region, maximizing local district resources and providing a depth and breadth of service that districts would be unable to provide on their own. Our recruitment initiatives are paying off with a 5.5% increase in enrollment from last year. This year, 671 students were enrolled in all programs across the consortium, including 415 in our high school credential programs and 248 in our English-as-a-SecondLanguage (ESL) and citizenship programs. Locations ranged from our regional community learning centers to local high schools and community storefronts to online, anytime learning.

EASTCONN’s Regional Cooperative Purchasing members spent more than $3 million this year, saving an average of 10-15%, or between $300,000 and $450,000, on a wide variety of items.

Small District Superintendent Group Fourteen (14) small, rural district superintendents met 4 times to identify common challenges, including declining enrollment, reductions in operating budgets and new/expanding challenges as ongoing educational mandates are implemented. They

Regional Cooperative Purchasing All 36 of our member districts have free access to our regional purchasing cooperative. Collectively, members purchased

“In a period of time when school systems are under severe financial constraints, our membership in ECHIP [Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program] has stabilized a large portion of our budget. We have had no increase in our health care premiums for the last three years.” – Bill Hull, Superintendent, Putnam Public Schools, a founding member of the ECHIP collaborative 14


AGENCY GOAL #2 identified voluntary, cost-saving collaborative opportunities, including shared special education transportation and collaborative staff recruitment and hiring. We created 2 online databases for group members to exchange information about shared staffing and out-placement student transportation needs. In addition, we provided members with communications templates that can be used to describe school achievements and benefits to families and other key community stakeholders.

Woodstock Academy Cooperative Seven (7) high school students with significant developmental disabilities from 3 districts attended this collaborative inclusion program. Students in the program were able to access all aspects of the Woodstock Academy curriculum, where and when appropriate to their needs. Member districts of the Cooperative receive reduced tuition for students and enjoyed the benefits of this long-standing partnership, which provides comprehensive support for students, including participation in unified activities and educational services. This year, Woodstock Academy Cooperative students were included in the Woodstock Academy iPad Initiative, with each receiving an iPad assigned to them for the school year.

Back Office Support Effective back office support requires strong collaboration between our member districts and the agency’s in-house administrative staff who provide the services. We continued to grow both the range of back office services that we provide to our districts, as well as the number of districts accessing them. In addition to the fiscal services we provided to 3 districts, we provided HR, facilities and technology services this year, as well.

Regional Consortia • Perkins Consortium: 6 districts participated in our Perkins Consortium, providing access to a funding source that they would not otherwise be able to access on their own. Consortium members assessed professional development and networking opportunities for 25 of their teachers, benefiting 150+ of their students through the creation of learning-rich curricula.

• Information Technology (IT) Services: IT continued to be an area of focus. The benefits and impacts on districts included lower costs, access to our entire team of IT analysts and specialists, flexible scheduling, and both on-site and phone support. We provided on-site, day-to-day technical support to 3 member school districts. We also provided as-needed support to an additional member district several times during the year, assisting with network infrastructure and wireless projects. Additionally, we provided audit services to 3 more districts with the potential of providing regular support. School Readiness Early Childhood Initiatives staff provided School Readiness Liaison staffing for 7 communities; staff were also responsible for ensuring that the School Readiness Grant was set for submission for developing both a consistent process and tools for monitoring grant activities. Several communities have reached out to EASTCONN for a regional approach to school readiness requirements and as a result, have asked to join the regional Northeast Early Childhood Council.

A Renaissance/STAR Assessments forum attracted 40+ educators who wanted to know more about cloud-based assessments.

Collaborative Clinical Day Treatment Completed our second year administering the Southeast Regional Program (SRP) in partnership with Plainfield Public Schools. This district-based, regional, Clinical Day Treatment program was at full capacity all year with 28 students in grades K-8. The program allowed students who live in and around Plainfield to be educated closer to home, increasing opportunities for their participation in district activities and community events, and saving considerable transportation costs.

• Renaissance Learning/STAR Assessments: Continued to coordinate a statewide licensing agreement with Renaissance Learning to make the STAR Early Literacy, STAR Reading and STAR Math online assessments available to 9 districts at a discounted price. A STAR Assessments forum hosted 43 educators from around the state last fall.

“Thanks for all you do for the Union School District day in and day out. Given the fact that you were working with a brand new Town Treasurer, the effort you put into getting the ED001 completed and certified on time was super. You make our job so much easier and your pleasant and patient manner keeps everyone on track.” – Joe Reardon, Superintendent, Union Public Schools “Your [Information Technology] service has been exceptional. It has helped us move in an effective manner and raised awareness to other potential efficiencies we can improve on.” – Steven Rioux, Assistant Superintendent, Killingly Public Schools 15


AGENCY GOAL #2 • My Learning Plan: 12 districts continued in our regional consortium to access reduced pricing for the online observation and evaluation management system with My Learning Plan; also hosted technical assistance sessions for 21 educators from those districts. Administrators continued to refine their use of this tool to provide more timely and descriptive feedback to teachers through the formal evaluation process.

18 • English Language Learner (ELL) Title III Consortium: 16 districts participated in our regional Title III Consortium, enabling them to our access a funding source that they 2 would not otherwise be eligible for individually. Teachers from Students consortium member districts received professional development and access to resources designed to support the teaching and learning of ELLs. They also had access to LAS Links language assessment materials and opportunities to network with colleagues in other districts.

Parent/Family Partnerships & Support Family Nights at Elementary Schools Recognizing the role of parents as first teachers, Adult Programs partnered with local elementary schools in our member districts to provide collaborative, family educational opportunities. Two (2) programs were offered in Plainfield, with more than 100 people attending each program. We also Enrollment in participated in and provided support for Family Nights in Plainfield Program is and Windham, reaching hundreds of families. Of note: we partnered with 4-H to present our Plainfield elementary schools’ family nights. The focus was on science, math and technology, and the role of parents in supporting creativity and scientific reasoning.

GED 2Gen increasing

Windham Community Collaborative Strengthened our partnership with Windham Public Schools and its Department of Family and Community Partnerships. Our shared goal was to bring EASTCONN’s Continuing Education, ESL and high school diploma programs together with Windham’s Family Advocates, Head Start and the After-School Collaborative in order to provide coordinated educational programming for the whole family. By leveraging the resources and expertise from these partners, parents and their children will have access to higher-quality programming, designed to promote stability and opportunity. As a result, we added an evening ESL class, participated in weekend and evening outreach events, and provided access to Spanish-language American Red Cross training for 20 students. Families of Young Children

Regional transportation runs served dozens of districts where students’ unique travel needs, either to special education programs, adult education classes or magnets, made EASTCONN’s flexible bus services the most cost-effective.

• Plainfield Two-Generational (2Gen) Program: This collaboration between Head Start and Adult Education has continued to strengthen with GED classes now an embedded option for parents of Head Start children. As a result, enrollment is up to 18 from 2 adult GED participants last year.

Regional Magnet School Transportation Provided transportation for 148 regular education students from 23 different districts to the 3 magnet schools in our region. The number of students transported was up 11.3%, compared to last year.

• Head Start Policy Council: This year’s Policy Council for Head Start is composed of a highly engaged group of parents and community members. Representation on the Council from a local Family Resource Center and DCF provided a mechanism for families to learn about programming in

“I would recommend EASTCONN because it is a great program that helps, and it is accessible.” – Mirian Lemus, English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) student “For the past three years, I’ve worked with the unified program [at Woodstock Academy Cooperative Program], and nothing could compare to the experience. Having the chance to work in the unified programs has improved my life by teaching me to have patience and to try and look at everything with positive and possible different perspectives. My high school years would have not been the same without working with the unified program.” – Autumn Lewis, Peer Tutor, Woodstock Academy Cooperative Program 16


AGENCY GOAL #2 the region and to have experts in family services and child protection services raise thought-provoking questions for parent members to discuss and consider. As a result, additional resources are now available for children and families in the program.

students participating in paid, community-based internships at area businesses, including Walmart, Rose Brothers Garage, Windham Hospital and All Pet’s Club,

• Collaborative Service Delivery: Participated in a regional service agency collaborative with the Department of Children and Families, Generation Health Center, Family Resource Centers, public schools and dental services in an effort to coordinate support to area families in greatest need of services. Regional meetings featured focused presentations and resource sharing. Feedback from participants documented rich learning opportunities for colleagues, who were able to share information about regional services and collaborate to problem-solve around services that are still needed.

• Collaborative Planning: Early Childhood staff served on the Northeast Early Childhood Council Leadership Team, coordinated the Regional School Readiness Council and met regularly with Family Resource Centers. These collaborations promoted region-wide planning and coordinated delivery of services; as a result, resources were maximized and efforts weren’t duplicated. A regional approach to setting goals for developmental screenings, vision and hearing screening, mental health and school readiness resulted in opportunities for communities to come to together to address issues that impact young children. Several events related to screenings were sponsored to promote awareness and to meet the developmental needs of children.

Regional Early Childhood Support

Regional Community Collaboration Employment & Training • Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB): Worked in close collaboration with EWIB in the design and delivery of enrollment programs for both adults and youth who are economically disadvantaged is and in need of vocational training and/or employment. In addition to providing direct services to 480 unemployed and under-employed adults, we also served 92 out-of-school youth across our year-round and summer programs. While our overall enrollment was down 16.7% due to funding cuts, our out-of-school youth enrollment was up almost 11%. As an added contracted service, our Transportation Department bused a weekly average of 7 low-income, unemployed adult riders traveling to skills development sites.

• NECC: EASTCONN Head Start staff also supported the Northeast Early Childhood Council (NECC) by providing on-site screenings at community events at regional Family Resource Centers.

Out-of-School-Youth

up

• Accreditation Facilitation Project (AFP): The goal of the AFP is to improve the quality of early care and education by supporting programs pursuing National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation. We provided support for 3 programs that are in the process of renewing their accreditation; our Early Childhood Initiatives staff conducted site visits, provided training and performed portfolio reviews. Regional Collaborative Learning Partnerships • Greater Windham Community Collaborations: Continued our partnerships with several community-based organizations to help expand access to a variety of opportunities for the region’s students, families and educators. Collaborations of note: Through the creation of a bilingual educator pathway, Eastern Connecticut State University increased the diversity of the region’s educators; WindhamARTS provided funding for community-based programming that was arts and culture focused, creating an avenue for public displays of student artwork and increasing student access to informal, enriched learning experiences; and Thread City Development, Inc., partnered with the Town of Windham to address infrastructure issues along Main Street in Willimantic, directly impacting the quality of the neighborhood surrounding our ACT magnet

• Summer Youth Program Partners: Our EWIB-funded regional employment and training programs for 417 youth involved numerous collaborators, including New London Youth Affairs and Norwich Human Services. Of note: we received supplemental funding from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (supporting 56 youth), Mystic Aquarium (supporting 8 youth), and local community foundations (supporting 40+ youth). • Community-Based Work Readiness Partnerships: All students in EASTCONN’s Clinical Day Treatment Programs who are over the age of 14 engaged in a variety of vocational activities that included building job skills, vocational tours and speakers, and paid internships in the community that also provided high school credit. There were more than 40

“Thanks for supporting TEEG’s Summer Food Service Program by providing us with extra hands! Our program wouldn’t be the program it is without the support of EASTCONN’s Summer Youth Employment Program.” – Diane and Kim, Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group (TEEG) 17


AGENCY GOAL #2 school. Our work with many community-based partners extended our ability to provide authentic learning experiences for students, while improving opportunities for collaboration.

performing arts high school served as an important anchor to Windham’s new arts zone, making our collaboration with our neighbors and town representatives an important vehicle for promoting common issues.

RESC and/or RESC Alliance Partnerships Early Childhood Leadership Team RESC Alliance partners met regularly with key members of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood leadership team to stay informed and to discuss how to best meet the needs of early childhood initiatives in member districts. Connecticut is in the process of creating a strategic plan for implementing key initiatives for the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. Connecticut Early Learning & Development Standards (CT ELDS) Relying upon the coaching expertise of RESC Alliance early childhood staff, we coordinated professional learning for Federal Preschool Development, one of the primary areas of need focused on integrating the CT ELDS across 13 communities. The goal was to promote an integrated curricular approach, with a plan for observation and formative assessment connected to standards; there was also an emphasis on working with paraprofessionals who are responsible for supporting and implementing these plans with the teachers in programs that receive the funding.

Students unfamiliar with gardening disovered how easy it is to grow plants during a WindhamARTS after-school activity. • Collaborative Arts Education: Promoted arts education in districts throughout the region in collaboration with WindhamARTS, which identified and brought diverse artists into classrooms and our after-school programs, exposing students to a wide variety of art and expressive forms. Also, WindhamARTS created pop-up gallery opportunities through which our region’s students could display their work before public audiences in Willimantic and the greater Windham area, and supported new arts-related programs that were aligned with Connecticut Core Standards.

Special Education Survey The Connecticut General Assembly recently passed legislation that was drafted by the Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Special Education Working • Economic Development: Chaired the Thread City Group that included a statewide Development, Inc., a nonsurvey conducted by the RESC profit organization dedicated What difference did it make? Alliance. The purpose of the survey to revitalizing downtown was to assess priority areas of special Main Street in Willimantic, ”Our program wouldn’t be the education need in districts throughout the location of our ACT arts program it is without the the state and to determine how to magnet high school. Thread most cost-effectively to address City Development members support of EASTCONN ...” them. work in close collaboration with Windham town officials and include representatives from Cafémantic, Eastern Connecticut PEACE Grant/STEM Collaboration State University, Horizons, Inc., Willimantic Victorian The collaboration between EASTCONN and LEARN, known Neighborhood Association and the Windham Theatre Guild. as the PEACE Grant (Partners for Equity and Achievement in In representing our magnet school’s students, families, Eastern Connecticut’s Education) entered its third year. Through teachers and administrators in this organization, we worked the grant, Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) continued to to promote a thriving and safe downtown neighborhood. Our benefit from resources that enhanced educational opportunities “I have [had] the pleasure of working with [your Director of Planning & Development] for many years as a representative of EASTCONN. She has been a valuable asset to Windham Arts as a resource to us regarding the promotion of the arts and arts education in our region. [She] is always professional, thorough, knowledgeable about the arts, education and potential grants. She is organized, well-spoken and a go-getter and can bring a room full of people together with her passion for what she does and her constituents. I am looking forward to yet another year of [her] great ideas, collaboration, professionalism, and vision for our community.” – Diane Nadeau, President and CEO, The Chamber of Commerce, Windham Region 18


AGENCY GOAL #2 for students in STEM disciplines through curriculum development, technology purchases and alliances with higher education and business. The grant also increased professional learning opportunities for teachers and staff. Of note: QMC has added a total of 9 new classes since the inception of the grant to provide an enhanced, STEM-infused curriculum for students. Feasibility Study for English Language Learner (ELL) Services In response to state legislation, the RESC Alliance collaborated on a statewide study of services supporting ELL students and their teachers. We gathered data from 18 participating districts in our region and then analyzed the responses to determine trends in ESL/Bilingual education. This information was included in a statewide report to the CSDE, including recommendations for expanding services in our region.

TEAM Mentors share insights and ideas during a collegial training designed to help them support beginning teachers.

Statewide Strategic Planning Project Directors from our Teaching & Learning and Technology Solutions divisions joined RESC Alliance colleagues and other state partners to conduct focus group sessions gathering input on current state initiatives; in our region, 70+ people participated, including superintendents, administrators, teachers and parents. Additionally, we provided regional data for the CSDE planning process through an online survey designed to gather input from our region. The survey was designed by a collaborative team from the RESCs and aligned to the primary goals of the strategic planning process. TEAM (Teacher Education And Mentoring) Collaborated with CSDE and our RESC Alliance partners in the statewide implementation of TEAM, Connecticut’s beginningteacher support program.

We

• TEAM Online Training: Developed new, interactive, online update training for TEAM Mentors and Reviewers, allowing more than 450 Mentors and 400 Reviewers to update their skills and knowledge without losing time in their own classrooms.

• TEAM Online Application Update: Managed the TEAM Web application, providing an online workspace for 4,500 beginning teachers and their 3,500 Mentors. Upgraded this powerful, Web-based application to better support administrative and instructional functions and ensure that the manage the TEAM Web site to support TEAM application remains user-friendly and compatible with newer Web-browser versions and mobile devices. and their

4,500

Beginning Teachers

3,500 Mentor Colleagues

Connecticut Core Standards (CCS) Supported statewide implementation of Connecticut Core Standards (CCS) through the state’s System of Professional Learning. This grant, funded by the CSDE, managed by ACES and coordinated with the RESC Alliance, provided embedded professional development for teachers in local schools. More than 255 days of service were provided to 22 districts, leading to increased alignment of their classroom instruction with state and national standards.

• Statewide Coordination: As the statewide manager, we oversaw the development of workshops and training materials and coordinated the delivery of training and followup technical assistance by Connecticut’s 6 RESCs; more than 3,500 mentor-teachers statewide currently support the state’s 4,500 beginning teachers. We hosted 12 sessions providing TEAM mentor and teacher training to 150+ people. In addition, we managed the delivery of TEAM training statewide; offered 59 Mentor sessions and 35 Reviewer sessions, with more than 3,300 educators participating.

Virtual High School (VHS) The RESC Alliance maintained its statewide VHS partnership, managed by CREC, offering online instructional opportunities

“As District TEAM Facilitator with approximately 60 beginning teachers participating in TEAM, I have enlisted [your staff member] as a trainer and as a sounding board for issues that have arisen throughout the year. In addition to the TEAM trainings [she] conducted at EASTCONN, she also came to Windham to conduct mentor re-training for many of my Mentors. She also answered a myriad of questions regarding the process and helped deal with several issues that came up … [I] appreciate all that you and your staff have done to make this an excellent program for our beginning teachers.” – Sharon Bartlett, District TEAM Facilitator, Windham Public Schools 19


AGENCY GOAL #2 education community leaders to nominate deserving individuals to the Connecticut Educator Network program. Once confirmed, CTEN members gain program-wide recognition in their fields and have an opportunity to partner with CSDE consultants and other network members on statewide projects.

to districts across the state. This system provided motivated students with opportunities to explore subject areas that would otherwise be unavailable in local districts due to low enrollment, high costs or unavailability of instructors. We have 3 participating districts.

Connecticut Department of Children & Families (DCF) In an effort to provide coordinated support for the most vulnerable families in our region, our Early Childhood Initiatives and Birth to Three staff worked in close coordination with DCF, establishing joint goals when serving children under our mutual care. We attended DCF state-level Head Start meetings on a quarterly basis and collaborated closely with the DCF Birth to Five liaison, who coordinates the DCF quarterly regional meetings.

State-Level Partnerships & Statewide Services Connecticut State Department of Education • Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT): Managed the statewide implementation of the CAT assessment program for CSDE, including the new electronic eCAT. Aspiring administrators are required to pass the CAT exam as a prerequisite to Intermediate Administrator Certification (092). This year, 1,287 CAT candidates registered to take the test and EASTCONN supervised the scoring of 3,015 tests. In the second year of eCAT implementation, 1,190 of the tests were completed online, with plans to increase this number to 2,500

Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) • Office of Early Childhood/CAPSS Pre-K Program Survey: In partnership with the State of Connecticut OEC and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), we administrated a survey inventorying pre-K program licensing and NAEYC accreditation criteria. The results of this effort will contribute to statewide discussions about program licensing and accreditation criteria, and the alignment between them. • Team-building: 15 staff from the OEC’s Division of Early Childhood participated in a team-building session facilitated by EASTCONN Adventure staff. Our low-ropes course presents participants with challenges around team-building, leadership skills, problem-solving, cooperation, trust and climate. Participants reported leaving with better skills in team-building and cooperative problem-solving.

EASTCONN IT staff prepare to launch an eCAT session for aspiring administrators during a trial run of the online system. next year. • Centers for Disease Control 2016 Connecticut School Health Profile: Provided technical and logistical support for the administration of the 2016 School Health Profile, a statewide survey of health education policies and practices for grades 6-12. In support of the CSDE effort to provide data to the Centers for Disease Control, surveys were distributed to principals and lead health educators. Data was collected on school health education requirements and content, physical education and physical activity, practices related to bullying and sexual harassment, school health policies related to tobacco-use prevention and nutrition, school-based health services, family engagement and community involvement, and school health coordination. • Connecticut Educator Network (CTEN) Portal: Supported a CSDE initiative, the Connecticut Educator Network, by creating an online portal allowing administrators and other

EASTCONN’s innovative Adventure Programs help teams become more effective as they work together to solve problems.

“EASTCONN’s involvement [in the OEC/CAPSS Pre-K Program Survey] made the process possible … allowing us to spend our time and energy focusing on policy issues. ... Without EASTCONN’s involvement , we would not have a well-constructed questionnaire and we would not have had a clear understanding of what the survey results indicate.” – Joseph J. Cirasuolo, Ed.D., Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) 20


AGENCY GOAL #2 • Assessment Advisory Group: Participated as a member of OEC’s Assessment Advisory Group to discuss issues related to building an observation and documentation system based upon the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS). Group membership included a broad range of OEC staff, service providers, program administrators and professional development providers.  • CLASS Training: Coordinated Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) training for the OEC in order to provide Preschool Development Grant (PDG) communities with reliable tools for giving classroom-based feedback. The goal is to improve student outcomes through professional learning and reflection.

Mental Health and Addiction services to provide services for children whose mothers are residents/clients of the New Life Residential Treatment Center for Women in Putnam.

Services to

adults with disabilities increased

Connecticut Department of Rehabilitative Services/ Bureau of Rehabilitative Services (BRS) • Adults with Disabilities: BRS contracted with our Assistive Technology (AT) team to support adult clients with disabilities who are seeking to obtain or maintain employment. Services increased by 67% this year, from 12 BRS clients last year to 20 this year. Program expansion has resulted in an increase in funding for the next 2 years.

• Students in Mental Health Facilities: EASTCONN collaborated with DMHAS to provide teachers, educational support and oversight for students who have been admitted to mental health facilities. We assisted DMHAS in providing a continuum of educational services, while addressing students’ mental health needs; a total of 131 students were served in 5 facilities. Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE) Provided a Student Outreach and Recruitment Plan to the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE) executive board members and as a result, the group is working with a cable company to explore TV-based advertising options suggested by the marketing plan, as well as other recommendations designed to improve GED enrollment statewide.

• Adults with Hearing & Visual Impairments: Our Assistive Technology team has expanded its partnership with BRS to include a specially designed program to assist persons with both hearing and visual impairments. To date, 3 adults have received services through this partnership, providing assessment, followed by training and equipment set-up. Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Regional Transition Services (RTS) Coordination: Our RTS programs, serving young adults with a broad range of developmental and other disabilities, worked in close coordination with DDS to address the needs of RTS students who will be transitioning to adult services. RTS program staff assisted students and their families in the transition process and DDS will be participating in the RTS Transition Forum for Families.

Following a drop in GED enrollment statewide, our partnership with CAACE has resulted in a new student recruitment plan. Here, a GED adult student works on math problems for the test. Community Engagement for Public Understanding Partnership Collaborated with the Great Schools Partnership on the implementation of a grant funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to serve as Connecticut’s intermediary for a regional New England initiative to build public understanding,

Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS) • Collaboration with Residential Treatment Centers: Our Head Start programs partnered with the Department of

“Challenges are more fun and solvable together!” • “Leadership is everywhere and can be within each of us.” “We accomplished all tasks together with lots of fun and determination.” • “Organization and planning together makes us more efficient.” • “Our group can accomplish anything when we do it together.” • “Gained confidence in learning new skills and systems and reaching agreement with a diverse group.” – EASTCONN Adventure participant feedback, staff from OEC Division of Early Care and Education 21


AGENCY GOAL #2 support and demand for student-centered approaches to learning. During 2015-2016, this multi-year initiative provided coordinated support to 3 districts in the planning and facilitation of engagement activities with students, teachers, school board members, parents and community organizations. Additionally, EASTCONN worked with Great Schools Partnership to identify and recommend 5 districts for participation in future cohorts.

empowered to make lasting, meaningful change in how they use energy and water and resources. • Regional Transition Services (RTS): Our 5th-year RTS students were able to take a QVCC college class each semester. With appropriate support and guidance, they developed the necessary self-advocacy skills required to navigate college classes and request appropriate accommodations. Student involvement in the culinary arts has continued to expand through internships at the QVCC cafeteria. Several RTS students were enrolled in Adult Community classes at QVCC, in subjects ranging from history, cooking, travel and politics to science and food safety.

Higher Education Partnerships & Collaboration

Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) • ACT Student Enrollment: Through an agreement with ECSU, up to 30 ACT students per year can take up to 12 college credits at no cost to the student. Last year, 6 ACT students enrolled in a college course on the ECSU campus and received transferable college credit. • English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) Collaborations: Collaborated with an ECSU professor to pilot a new adult ESL curriculum in one of our Windham classrooms. This interactive curriculum used culturally appropriate readings and dialogue to promote the development of reading, listening and speaking skills. Hosted ECSU student interns in Adult Education ESL classes, introducing students to the field, while also expanding the availability of additional one-on-one support for our ESL students.

QMC students can choose from among a variety of learning pathways aligned with programs at QVCC and UCONN. Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC)

• ECSU and English Language Learners (ELL): • Quinebaug Middle College Collaborated with representatives (QMC) Student Access: QMC from ECSU’s Elementary Education continued to work with QVCC to What difference did it make? and Early Child Development align curriculum and instruction Education programs on the “[Regional Transition Services] so that all students could access development and submission of an students learn to navigate essential the college pathway after application to the U.S. Department successfully completing the First services ... as they prepare for their of Education addressing 2 regionYear Experience class. In addition wide issues: the need for a more transition to adult life.” to a wide range of opportunities to diverse education workforce; and directly enroll in QVCC courses, the ability to effectively serve newly QMC students were able to enroll in a Blueprint Reading arriving English Language Learners (ELLs) and their families class offered through the Manufacturing Center at QVCC, in our rural school districts. as well as participate in job shadowing opportunities at local • Bilingual Educator Preparation: Increasing the number of manufacturing facilities. bilingual educators in our schools, as well as in our region’s – Through the STEM grant, QMC established a partnership early child development network, has long been recognized with UCONN to provide graduate-student mentors in the not only as a regional but as a statewide issue. Through our areas of engineering and robotics. collaboration, funding support will be provided to individuals who are bilingual and interested in pursuing a career in – All of QMC students will become an active part of the education at QVCC and Three Rivers Community College, as Climate Action Plan that is being developed through a well as at ECSU and UCONN. collaboration between QVCC and QMC personnel. In this way, students will increase their awareness of and be “[Regional Transition Services] students learn to navigate essential services, including DDS, BRS and adult agencies as they prepare for their transition to adult life.” – Barbara Wagonbrenner, Transition Coordinator, Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) 22


AGENCY GOAL #2 support, as well as interventions to address mental health needs of children and families in our programs. • Doctoral Students Services: Worked in partnership with 3 UCONN doctoral students, who conducted mental health focus groups for families and provided consultation on classroom strategies, as well as case management for family service staff. • Student Enrichment: UCONN students acted as tutors and mentors to children in our Community Arts Connection afterschool program at Windham Heights, serving 75 elementary and middle-school-age youth and their families. In addition, UCONN provided free tickets to cultural events for our families, which we supplemented with free transportation. • Fingerprinting: Our HR Department provided on-campus fingerprinting services to 150 future teacher candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs at UCONN; an additional 42 students elected to come to our Hampton office for fingerprinting.

Teachers of English language learners attend specialized workshops to improve content knowledge and classroom strategies. • Fingerprinting: Our HR Department provided fingerprinting services to 128 future teacher candidates enrolled in ECSU teacher preparation programs. University of Connecticut • Fatherhood Events: UCONN students partnered with Head Start programs to provide fatherhood events in Stafford Springs, Vernon and northeastern Connecticut.

Internal Collaborations with External Impact

Two-Generational (2Gen) Family Programming Our Head Start and Early Head Start staff offered a locally designed, integrated programming option for ESL parents of young children. Adult Education candidates were • Hearing Screenings for Head staff provided ESL instruction Start: The national ECHO and workforce development Initiative funded a train-thepreparation for parents/guardians trainer workshop at UCONN, while Head Start staff were focused on utilizing an Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) providing high-quality childcare. An agency priority, 2Gen screening to measure sounds given off by the inner ear when opportunities are being expanded and agency policies and the cochlea is stimulated. OAE screening will be a protocol procedures are being revised to better accommodate and used for hearing screenings in Early Head Start programs. promote them so that changes in intake procedures will better ensure that clients are accessing the many services for which • Home Visitors: Collaborated with UCONN Department of they qualify agency-wide. Human Development and Family Studies, Center for Applied Research in Human Development, on the Home Visitors • 2Gen Work team: An in-house interdisciplinary work team Project. Early Head Start and Head Start home visitors was formed to explore the creation of a regional, multicontributed to two-generational goal setting, resulting in 117 generational continuum of high-quality, integrated services goals developed in collaboration with home-based families, and programming that increase the educational success, up from 34 in 2014. The increase broadens our understanding economic security, community connections, and health and of families’ needs and family growth across service areas and well-being of eligible children, parents and families. Specific programs. agency-wide recommendations are being developed. • Clinical Support: Continued our collaboration with the UCONN Department of Clinical Psychology for assessment

UCONN teacher fingerprinted

“I am just thrilled with PBCS’s [Psychological Behavioral Consultation Services’] knowledge, experience, professionalism, follow-through, and organization. I am especially pleased with how [your staff] is working with me to blend the plan we already have for a student with new ideas and providing consistency and structure to the student’s program. This is just what was needed.” – Melissa Ottman, Special Education Teacher, Mansfield Middle School “I liked how welcoming everyone was and how easy the process [fingerprinting] was.” – Jessica Seymour, ECSU student who used EASTCONN’s fingerprinting services 23


AGENCY GOAL #2 – QMC: Revised and refined QMC Web pages, enhancing their content, and creating an improved online experience for prospective QMC students and parents.

Connecticut Core Standards (CCS) in Early Grades Early Childhood Initiatives staff joined Teaching & Learning staff to provide training and coaching to 19 teachers and 3 administrators from 2 districts as they implemented CCS in their kindergarten classes and primary grades.

Technical Support to Mobile STEM Lab Provided consulting and technical assistance in the outfitting of EASTCONN’s QMC Mobile STEM Lab, which is capable of supporting a wide variety of instructional activities. IT staff successfully installed the lab’s high-powered electron microscope, mobile wireless network, video switches, weather station, iPad charging station and a trailer batterycharging system.

Student Recruitment

• GED Enrollment: Created and implemented a marketing plan for Adult Programs that addressed a statewide and regional How well did we do it? decline in GED student-enrollment numbers, following the national ”I am just thrilled with PBCS’s shift from paper to Web-based GED knowledge, experience, testing.

TEAM Videos In collaboration with TEAM staff in our Teaching & Learning division, the ACT Video Production Coordinator recorded and edited coaching conversations between a Mentor and a beginning teacher who is completing a TEAM module. The videos will be used in the TEAM Mentor Update Training, adding an asynchronous virtual support component to what has historically been a face-to-face process.

professionalism, followthrough and organization.”

– Spanish Translations: Uploaded new Spanish-language Adult Programs Web pages, improving access for prospective students who are Spanish-speakers to all Adult Education offerings, especially Spanish GED, citizenship, job training and ESL classes.

Adult Education Simulcast Supported EASTCONN Adult Education in providing its first point-to-point simulcast, allowing instruction in one classroom to be delivered to another classroom on the other side of the region. This proof-of-concept was necessary to assess the economy and practicality of sharing instructional resources in this way. Benefits included increased class capacity, decreased student travel distances (especially for transportation-challenged students), and decreased per-student expenses. Staff Participation and Leadership on Regional, State & National Organizations, Committees & Task Forces

The QMC Mobile STEM Lab’s set-up and maintenance requires help from IT staff with abundant technical knowledge and skill.

Executive Director • Member of the Connecticut Legislature-created Performance Expectations Advisory Council (PEAC), responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of our statewide educator evaluation system.

• EASTCONN Magnet Schools Recruitment: Assisted our 2 magnet schools, QMC and ACT, with media communications, print ads and TV ads to support recruitment efforts in the face of declining application and enrollment numbers. – ACT: Helped plan, write content for and launch ACT’s new Web pages, ahead of a late-summer student recruitment TV campaign in 2015, resulting in an increase in page visits that pushed ACT’s pages into the agency Web site’s Top-10 most-clicked-on links.

• Member of the Connecticut Legislature-created Task Force on Special Education Funding, responsible for making recommendations on how special education services should be funded statewide.

“Connecticut has seen a dramatic decline in enrollment of Adult High School Completion Programs (i.e. GED). Your Marketing & Communications Department volunteered to assist CAACE’s marketing committee, giving the group direction, marketing goals and strategies for starting a statewide plan to increase student enrollment. [Your staff’s] vision, insight and knowledge were a great resource for the committee.” – Richard Tariff, President of Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE) 24


AGENCY GOAL #2 tion and assessment system based on the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS).

• Member of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Board of Directors, representing the RESC Alliance.

• Served on Connecticut’s Birth to Three Leadership Team, a state advisory group focused on best practices with young children in Birth to Three programs.

• Member of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) Early Childhood Advisory Council, supporting and promoting high-quality early childhood programming across Connecticut and acting as a liaison between public schools and the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Education.

• Member of the UCONN Neag School of Education Advisory Panel for 3-to-3 Leadership Program Design.

• Member of the CAPSS Education Transformation Project (ETP) Advisory Committee, advocating for the transformation of public education in Connecticut.

• Invited to present at the federal New England States Head Start Professional Learning Panel on the subject of standards.

• Served on the Office of Early Childhood School Readiness Competitive and Priority Districts Liaison Council.

• Served on the Committee to review Shared Knowledge and Competency Framework (CKC model).

• Member of the Northeast Health District Health Quest Committee, overseeing the development of wellness programs and other health-related initiatives in northeastern Connecticut schools and communities.

K-12 Student Services Staff • 2 members of the Assistive Technology (AT) team presented at the National Assistive Technology Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Tools for Writing and Advanced AAC Assessment and Implementation.

Adult Programs Staff • Our Adult Programs Director served as President of the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE) for the 5th year, and was a member of the CSDE GED Advisory Board.

• A member of the AT team presented at the Connecticut AT Fair, discussing successful AT use for students in transition.

• EASTCONN’s Transition Coordinator was responsible for coordinating the Regional Transition Network. She served as a member of the Connecticut Transition Community of Practice What difference did it make? and facilitated a practice group, and was a member of the RESC/SERC/ ”[Your Director of Facilities] and CPAC Sustainability Committee his assistant ... were invaluable in and a member of the Connecticut helping craft a plan ... that ensures Transition Task Force.

• Our Adult Programs Assistant Director of Adult Basic Education chaired CAACE’s PD committee. • Adult Education staff were active advocates for adult learners at state and regional levels, as well as presenters at statewide conferences and workshops on WIOA, ELL Customer Service, technology integration, 2Gen programming and Spanish GED.

compliance and best practice.”

Organizational Support

• The Assistant Director traveled to Washington, D.C., as a representative of the national Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) to meet with Connecticut’s legislators and strengthen support for Adult Education.

• Our Human Resources Director is co-chair of CIRMA’s statewide School District Advisory Committee, responsible for the development, implementation and monitoring of risk management products, services and programs in Connecticut schools.

Early Childhood Staff • Facilitated and participated in Connecticut’s Head Start Education and Family Service Coordination meetings.

• Our Director of Planning & Development represented EASTCONN and our member districts as the executive chair of Thread City Development, which works to revitalize downtown Willimantic.

• Served on Connecticut’s Academy of Science and Engineering – Early Elementary Regression Discontinuity Study Committee. • Served on the Early Childhood Assessment Advisory Council, providing feedback related to the development of an observa-

“[Your Director of Adult Programs] may be leaving the CAACE presidency, but his impact will last far into the future through the initiatives he spearheaded, the structures he built, and the people and programs he advised. We will always be grateful for his commitment to CAACE, and we will continue to be [beneficiaries of] his vision, wisdom, and heart.” – Heather Pelletier, Director of Adult and Continuing Education, Naugatuck Public Schools and CAACE Conference Chair 25


AGENCY GOAL #2 limited and many are one-time savings. Retaining local control remains important for many communities. Within communities there is also often a significant separation between Boards of Education and Boards of Finance, making municipal and district partnerships challenging. While EASTCONN continues to help facilitate these collaborations, both across and within districts, it is an unfunded and sometimes costly effort. Although the state legislature and Office of Policy and Management have called for an increased role for RESCs, state support to EASTCONN to facilitate such regional cooperation was reduced to $114,830 this year, down 13%, and is projected to be cut further in the coming months. Cooperative Purchasing We had a significant overall reduction in dollar volume, due to problems with one vendor who failed to deliver on what was promised. As a result, members were forced to withdraw from the purchasing of that commodity and seek other suppliers. We were challenged to help them address the problem and to locate additional suppliers.

The new K-12 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is among many topics discussed with CSDE officials, who continue to collaborate with EASTCONN staff to refine evaluation strategies and plans. Teaching & Learning (T&L) • Member of CSDE Professional Development Team, comprising RESC, CSDE Talent Office and Connecticut Association of Schools representatives. The group addresses educator evaluation processes and training, related to the evaluation of teachers and administrators. Also provided key contributions to design teams integrating professional learning standards for districts under the educator evaluation training system. • Our T&L Director and the EASTCONN Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment presented to 50 educators from around the state on “Mindful Approaches to Leadership” at Central Connecticut State University.

Cooperative Purchasing members meet regularly to consider each discounted commodity before buying it for their districts.

2015-2016 Challenges

Accreditation Facilitation Project Management Changes As the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) moves forward with having a sole source contract with the Connecticut United Way, there will be changes in who manages the Accreditation Facilitation Project (AFP), which in turn may change EASTCONN’s role as a Birth to Three program provider. As we wait to hear about decisions, it is challenging to know how to move forward. OEC has directed the agencies not to have a spring selection, which will affect programs that need support in this time frame. Initial discussions have taken place with the United Way and we have responded to a Request for Qualifications to provide AFP related services.

Voluntary Regionalism Northeastern Connecticut has a long, positive history of voluntary regionalism. However, getting all 36 member districts to voluntarily collaborate with one another, as well as with other municipal or regional agencies, can be challenging. Often, the disincentives outweigh the incentives. It can take more time and resources to collaborate than it would to pursue the same task independently. There are multiple stakeholders across organizations with different constituents and missions, resulting in extended decision-making timelines and complex logistics. Limited Savings The savings realized by regional collaboration are often

“The EASTCONN [Facilities] Department was invaluable in helping to assess Sprague’s maintenance needs. EASTCONN’s Director of Maintenance … shared time, knowledge and expertise to help build leadership capacity in Sprague. Sprague Public Schools worked with [him] to focus on areas that required attention and to bring them current. [He] and his assistant … were invaluable in helping Sprague craft a plan, hire staff and implement practices and procedures that ensure compliance and best practice.” – Dr. Judy Benson-Clarke, Superintendent, Sprague Public Schools 26


AGENCY GOAL #2

2016-2017 Plans & Implications New & Enhanced Partnerships New Partnerships In support of the changing demographics in our region, we will reach out to establish new partnerships, such as one with the Department on Aging, along with other agencies/organizations, that support low-incidence populations of learners, in order to build our expertise, explore areas of common interest and identify opportunities for collaboration in the delivery of services. New Markets We will continue to seek new markets for our existing programs and services, including Conference Services, Data Systems and our Assistive Technology team. Revenue from new markets helps expand our capacity, while maintaining or reducing costs for our member districts.

Early Head Start children weren’t camera shy as they patiently waited with happy grins for morning storytime to begin. University of Connecticut (UCONN) • Collaborative Planning: Continue to expand data collection for the 5-year Head Start planning process in partnership with UCONN’s Human Development and Family Studies program. The desired outcome is that our Head Start Prenatal-to-Five program will: be an exemplary program that engages families and community in closing the achievement gap to assure children are successful in school and beyond, especially those with significant barriers; be a model of excellence and innovation in promoting social emotional competency among staff, families, and children; develop cultural awareness and openness that will invite and encourage all families to participate in our program.

Regional Councils of Government Continue expanding our relationship with the Northeast Council of Governments for the purpose of encouraging and supporting expanded collaboration between boards of education and municipalities. Raise awareness among municipalities of the EASTCONN programs and services that they can access, including ECHIP, cooperative purchasing, back office support, and more. Establish a relationship with the Capitol Region Council of Governments to explore how we can best collaborate in support of the 9 communities that we share in common. Cooperative Purchasing We plan to reach out to all of our members in order to increase their buying activity and, therefore, the buying power and potential for discounts for the entire collaborative. In addition, we plan outreach to municipalities and non-profit agencies in our member towns that would benefit from our collaborative. Among lessons learned with our vendor issues is to reduce our reliance on single vendors when purchasing high volume, perishable goods.

• Collaborative Research: Strengthen our collaboration with the UCONN Center for Behavior Educational Research, as we conduct research together in schools. RESC Alliance Partners Continue collaborating with individual RESCs, as well as the Alliance as a whole, in the development and delivery of programs and services that address our local district needs. As an Alliance, continue to enhance and expand our partnerships with state organizations, including CSDE, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), and the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), and national organizations like Learning Forward, in a coordinated effort to support the implementation of education reform initiatives in local districts.

Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Our Early Childhood Initiatives group is in the process of planning for professional learning with the OEC for 2016-2017, in an integrated manner with the three strands of identified services to communities that have received this funding.

Cost-Saving Innovations & Efficiencies We will look for new opportunities to collaborate in securing services and commodities. We will work to expand membership “The EASTCONN Head Start leadership has participated on the State Head Start Advisory Committee for multiple years and actively advocated with state agencies to assure Head Start and Early Head Start are included in discussions that impact our programs. I have been in Head Start management for 34 years and watched as EASTCONN has adapted their program over time to meet the needs of the ever-changing Head Start community.” – Kathi Bleecher, Education Connection 27


AGENCY GOAL #2 in, and the menu of services offered through our existing collaboratives and partnerships, including our Adult Education Consortium, our purchasing cooperative, our health insurance collaborative, and more. We will also grow the use of our back office support, regional transportation, joint professional development and the sharing of instructional and administrative staff.

ECHIP health insurance staff are working to expand coverage offerings and membership across the EASTCONN region. Regional Health Insurance Expansion Expand membership in the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP). Also, expand our ECHIP menu of services to include other health coverage, such as student accident insurance and dental insurance. Expand our wellness menu and create a wellness Web site. Expanded Two-Generational (2Gen) Initiatives The collaboration between our Head Start and Adult Education staff will continue. We are currently seeking funding to enhance programming that engages families and children through a strong family literacy component. When adults are able to meet the educational needs of their child more effectively, the achievement gap will decrease and more children will become engaged in meaningful learning at home and school; this leads to a more productive workforce in the future that is better prepared to face changing work conditions and other challenges.

The opening of Adult Programs’ new facility in Danielson marks another step toward improving circumstances for adult learners, as we seek to expand regional partnerships and grow costeffective options for our Adult Education Consortium. Promoting & Facilitating Regionalism Continue facilitating partnerships among our member districts to promote voluntary resource-sharing and joint problemsolving. To that end, we will continue to facilitate the Small Districts Work group and expand our district-based, regional, special-education programming.

Regional Transportation Our Transportation Department will build new Web pages to facilitate information-sharing with districts, resulting in improved communication and the expedited coordination of runs. We will promote expanded use of the regional outplacement-destination database in an effort to increase shared runs.

Increased Back Office Support Continue offering direct, professional staffing support to districts, including back-office fiscal and human resources functions, IT and facilities support. We will promote the expanded use of our regional staffing database as a way of encouraging more collaborative recruitment and hiring, especially in shortage areas.

Regional Coordinated Professional Learning Take advantage of the regional common calendar to offer joint professional development on a variety of topics on common professional development days, particularly in such specialty areas as art, music, world languages, etc.

“As an administrator in a small, rural district, [I know] our resources are limited. We have come to rely on the services that EASTCONN provides in a variety of areas to supplement our resources and provide a cost-sharing opportunity ... PD is provided to staff through workshops, grant opportunities and AT sessions. Each area of EASTCONN has developed tailor-made opportunities for our school district and hears what we need and then responds ... they all listen to their consumer and deliver the product(s) we need to make our students the best they can be.” – Dr. Rachel D. Leclerc, Director of Special Education and Support Services, Mansfield Public Schools 28


AGENCY GOAL #3

To enhance the knowledge and skills of educators and the whole community, so they can effect change and facilitate positive outcomes for learners. “I can unequivocally attest to EASTCONN’s state recognition as a leader in providing professional learning and training for others in research and standards-based curriculum...” 2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments Teaching & Learning Initiatives Embedded Professional Learning Support • Embedded, In-District Support & Training: Provided 142 days of on-site, embedded, professional development and support in 24 districts to assist with the development and implementation of customized, local plans for a variety of educational reform initiatives, including performance task development, differentiated instruction, applications of new Social Studies and Science Standards, and more. – Professional Learning (PL) Plans: 26 days assisting with the design, implementation and evaluation of coherent PL plans, leading to improved connections to existing school improvement initiatives.

Professional learning support across a variety of core subject areas equips teachers to deliver specialized learning to students. Here, QMC science students work on an NGSS-aligned lesson.

– Math: 49 days collaborating with district math specialists and teachers to model instruction and facilitate planning aligned to their local mathematics programs, the Connecticut Core Math Standards and corresponding instructional shifts.

– Science: 26 days providing content overview and implementation strategies around the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). • Connecticut Core Standards (CCS) – System of Professional Learning: Delivered more than 255 days of on-site coaching to 22 districts. Funded through the CSDE System of Professional Learning, these services provided classroom teachers and coaches with instructional design and assessment strategies aligned with the standards, resulting in increased alignment of classroom instruction with the state and national standards.

– English Language Arts: 23 days supporting the implementation of Writer’s Workshop and other critical skills-building initiatives. – Social Studies: 18 days introducing teachers and administrators to the new Social Studies Frameworks, using a World Café protocol, allowing connections to be made with other core content areas.

“EASTCONN’s coaches bring expertise and strong content knowledge to their professional trainings with our teachers, supporting refinements to instruction and assessments. EASTCONN demonstrates responsiveness to our district needs; talented staff and leaders have assisted us with technology endeavors and have provided exceptional support for our teachers in setting goals for the evaluation process.” – Michele Mullaly, Director of Teaching and Learning, Coventry Public Schools “We had PD today, funded through a grant with [EASTCONN]. She came very prepared … She was FABULOUS about changing gears and adjusting to what we needed to learn … We all left … so satisfied and feeling like we actually had tools to change our classroom environment, so we can then move forward into project-based learning.” – Beth O’Connor, SRBI Interventionist, Baldwin Middle School, Canterbury Public Schools 29


AGENCY GOAL #3 • STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math): With our recent hire of a new Science Education Specialist, we expanded our collaboration with EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) science department and the regional QMC Mobile STEM Lab. On-site demonstrations and professional development for 17 teachers from 4 districts were provided, highlighting the instructional opportunities for both teachers and students in this portable science classroom.

Regional Professional Development • Educator Evaluation: – Foundation Skills for Evaluators of Teachers: 29 educational leaders from 25 districts attended a revised, 5-day series designed to provide an understanding of the educator evaluation and support system, the CCT Rubric for Effective Teaching 2014 and the CCT Rubric for Effective Service Delivery 2015. All 4 components of the teacher evaluation guidelines were addressed, and more than 98% of participating administrators achieved proficiency in conducting observations.

• Special-Area Teachers Regional Training: 55+ special-area educators from 11 member districts participated in regional workshops designed for art, music, physical education, library media and instructional technology specialists. This regional professional development initiative took advantage of common PD days organized through the regional calendar, and led to specific planning for additional offerings next year.

– Student Educator Support Specialists (SESS): 18 registrants from 14 districts learned about the development of high-quality goals and objectives to improve student/adult learning. Evaluators had the opportunity to increase their understanding of the recently revised SESS Rubric for Effective Service Delivery 2015 for educational personnel who provide services other than classroom instruction. Participants learned how to apply this rubric in their evaluation of clinical staff in schools, including school psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, speech-language pathologists, and others.

• Literacy Education: In partnership with Keys to Literacy, a nationally acclaimed literacy education group, we hosted a regional event, featuring founder and author Joan Sedita. The event, “Best Practices for Comprehension, Vocabulary and Writing Content Literacy Instruction,” is in response to regional requests for English Language Arts (ELA) support. What difference did it make?

– High-Quality Feedback in the Evaluation Process: 13 evaluators from 6 districts interacted with a range of tools designed to improve their skills at engaging educators in collaborative conversations leading to professional growth. In this series of workshops, they learned strategies for improving teacher effectiveness, using high-quality written and verbal feedback, an essential part of the educator evaluation and support cycle.

“We are able to honestly discuss the work and make large steps forward in the best interest of the students.” Online Blended Learning Blended approaches to professional learning continued to be a growth area for us: • TEAM Online Training: We maintained the new, interactive, online update training for Mentors and Reviewers, allowing them to enhance their skills and knowledge without losing time in their classrooms. Additional online training modules are also in development. • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 26 educators participated in a series of online Webinars, exploring curricular and instructional shifts that accompany the new standards. Statewide Conferences • Statewide Coherence Conference 2016: Collaborated with the CSDE Talent Office and the RESC Alliance on a

A new Science Education Specialist is expanding our ability to deliver critical professional learning in STEM/STEAM.

“Thanks again for hosting the specialists PD last Thursday. I spoke to many people and we all agreed that it was great to be given PD that was specifically targeted at specialists. Many of us feel isolated (in the Special Areas) and we are hungry for PD and time with colleagues. EASTCONN staff have a view of the bigger picture and have specialized knowledge. The networking... (allowed us to) find people with common interests and goals. Please keep doing this; very valuable!” – Kathy Adams, Music Educator, Tolland Public Schools 30


AGENCY GOAL #3 statewide conference attended by 280+ educators to increase coherence between various state initiatives, including educator evaluation, Connecticut Core Standards and professional learning; 4 EASTCONN districts facilitated breakout sessions at the conference with support from our education specialists. Also contributed as a member of the Conference Planning team and provided on-site coordination. • Standards-Based Assessment: 214 educators from 44 districts across the state attended this EASTCONN-organized conference featuring Rick Wormeli, a nationally recognized expert and author on the topic of standards-based assessment and grading. This event generated long-term engagements with 4 districts that plan to migrate to a standards-based report card process.

Regional Arts Council participants, happy to make connections with job-alike colleagues, discuss new state arts standards. • Arts Council: A new, regional Arts Council attracted 36 participants from 15 member districts. They heard from the CSDE arts consultant and exchanged ideas around arts integration, instruction and assessment. Of note, in collaboration with the CSDE, we held a focus group with representatives from 8 districts to review and provide feedback on the Connecticut Arts Standards. Fifteen (15) Arts Council focus group participants were enthusiastic about how the new standards highlight the learning that students are engaged in through creative arts experiences.

• Professional Learning Inventory: Provided orientation on the Standards Assessment Inventory to 14 members of the statewide CSDE Development Team, which included all RESCs, CAS and CSDE participants. Additionally, provided follow-up consultation to 2 of our districts as members of the Professional Learning Academy, leading to enhanced understanding of the new Connecticut Standards of Professional Learning. • CSDE Conference Support: Managed 9 statewide conferences for CSDE with more than 650 educators, from school nurses to sexual health educators, in attendance. Our conference services included the management of: vendor, presenter and facilitator contracts; on-site event logistics; promotion and registration; and budgets.

Center for Educational Leadership

EASTCONN Center for Educational Leadership The EASTCONN Center for Educational Leadership provides personally engaging professional Regional Councils learning experiences that examine Teaching & Learning offered 6 regional Our new regional Council the nature of leadership in today’s councils for “job-alike” educators world. This past year, the Center brought together to network with colleagues from offered several research-based other districts and hear from CSDE professional learning experiences Arts Educators officials about new opportunities and exploring a range of leadership requirements. New this year: from actions and instructional methods. The experiences offered were active • Social Studies Council: The and experiential with considerable regional Social Studies Council was Member Districts time dedicated to evidence-based launched this year with 16 social practices and personal reflection. The studies educators from 5 districts Center supported 45 administrators attending. Through the lens of as they continued to implement and plan many new education the new state Social Studies Standards, council members initiatives. Specific highlights included: examined the role of inquiry in the social studies classroom • Communities of practice for pre-K-8 administrators and the relationship between historical thinking and close • Instructional leadership for curriculum directors and assistant reading of primary sources; they also heard from CSDE Social principals Studies consultants. • Grading Reform Theory of Action cohort

ARTS

“CEL communities of practice allow teams to be organized by the most pressing problems within district. We are able to honestly discuss the work and make large steps forward in the best interest of the students.” – Lauren Rodriguez, Principal, Mansfield “[Your CEL Director] is extremely knowledgeable about a wide variety of educational topics; coupled with her structured delivery model, [it] allows her to gain credibility and confidence among leaders from our region.” – Michael Susi, Principal, East Lyme High School 31


AGENCY GOAL #3 • Standards-based grading reform in 12 districts • New summer 2016 leadership retreat Early Childhood

CT ELDS to plan meaningful learning experiences for young children. Developed and coordinated statewide and regional training on the CT ELDS for more than 300 participants, including early childhood program administrators and teachers.

Supporting early childhood educators in both our schools and communities remains a high priority. Because of our capacity in this area, we are able to provide support to many statewide early childhood initiatives. Among the highlights this year:

Social-Emotional Competence Provided professional learning on developing social and emotional competencies in young children for 125 teachers of infants and toddlers.

Infant/Toddler Conference Executive Function, Language, Literacy Our Early Head Start and Birth to Three programs co-sponsored & Math Skills the third annual, statewide, Infant/ Provided training and on-site Toddler Conference, held at coaching in 6 communities in our Increase in EASTCONN’s Conference Center; region, and 8 other communities preschool & kindergarten participation increased by 12% over statewide, for 108 preschool and teachers learning about last year, with 95 early childhood kindergarten teachers, an increase educators and administrators in of 71% over last year. Training the importance of attendance. The requests to attend was designed to improve executive exceeded our Conference Center’s function, language, literacy and math in children capacity. The keynote speaker was skills in young children. As a result Karen Nemeth, Ed.M., a national of our staff participation in this presenter and author who promotes best practice in dualtraining, we continued to see increases in executive function, language development and consults with many early childhood social skills, literacy and math in our collaborative programs, programs across the country. Additional presenters included where integrated curricular approaches and strategies are being staff from our Birth to Three program: Ileana Nieto, Early used to support positive child outcomes. Intervention Specialist, and Megan Stillwell, Speech and Language Therapist. Professional Learning for Community-Based, Early-Care Providers

executive function

• Workshops: Provided 17 workshops for 400 communitybased early-care providers, on a wide range of topics. Attendees included pre-K and kindergarten teachers, paraprofessionals, teacher assistants, curriculum coordinators, early childhood administrators, infant/toddler teachers and paraprofessionals, Birth to Three providers, administrators in infant toddler programs, and related services staff who work with infants/toddlers. • Coaching: EASTCONN’s Early Childhood Initiative staff conducted on-site coaching for 15 towns and 113 classroom teachers on topics such as executive function, implementing the CT ELDS, and designing and developing learning experience plans utilizing the CT ELDS and Building Cultural Competence models.

Emphasizing youngsters’ executive function, language, literacy and math skills has yielded wonderful developmental outcomes. Early Learning & Development Standards (CT ELDS) We continued to provide professional development for preschool teachers and paraprofessionals around utilizing the

Playful Learning Initiative With funding from the Lego Community Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, EASTCONN in collaboration with the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative has de-

“The quality of programs and services touched by EASTCONN is evidenced by their high-impact outcomes in the area of program standards; early learning standards and development; supporting the school readiness of their region’s most vulnerable learners; health and well being; parent and family engagement; and community results. I can unequivocally attest to EASTCONN’s state recognition as a leader in providing professional learning and training of others in research and standards-based curriculum with a focus on Early Head Start & Head Start.” – David Morgan, Executive Director, Training, Education and Manpower Inc. (TEAM), Derby, CT 32


AGENCY GOAL #3 veloped training modules for “Supporting Educational Success through Playful Learning: A Focus on Preschool and Kindergarten.” These sessions bring teachers and families together to understand how purposeful play can support learning standards. This year, 2 communities were engaged in piloting the modules, which will eventually be available statewide. To date, 80 teachers and family members have participated. In addition, facilitation guides for administrators’ professional learning communities were used to discuss the importance of play and learning. Preschool Development Grant In collaboration with the state OEC and the Early Childhood Consultation project, we coordinated professional development for the 13 communities across the state involved in the federally funded Preschool Development Grant. With a focus on the CT ELDS, this project promotes an integrated curricular approach and an emphasis on supporting paraprofessionals who implement programming.

Related Services hosted a recent Positioning and Mobility Fair to help AT practicioners keep abreast of the latest developments. Assistive Technology (AT) Provided a variety of professional learning opportunities both on-site and in regional settings, as well as in our resource library, giving district personnel an opportunity to try the latest assistive technologies for their students.

Special Education Professional Learning

• Professional Learning Opportunities: 30 trainings, including 2 national presentations on a range of AT topics were delivered; 179 educators attended professional learning events, along with 15 family members and 7 individuals with disabilities.

Multi-Tiered Supports for All Students Consulted with 20+ districts to enhance their capacity to implement multi-tiered supports for all students. Provided on-site support to cross-functional, school-based teams of paraprofessionals, regular/special “[Your support enables] the education teachers, counselors, school psychologists, social workers and students to better access our administrators. curricula, and maximize their

– Our Related Services Group sponsored a professional learning event on Dynamic Positioning and Mobility Equipment, presented by National Seating and Mobility.

• Documented Results: Reduction in learning potential.” • Site-Based Support: 29 districts office discipline referrals; development received ongoing AT consultation and of best practice behavioral supports in support services that helped students reach their maximum least restrictive environments; application of skills modeled/ potential and independence connected to access, participation practiced in training; independent implementation of strategic and progress in the general education curriculum.   problem-solving; and action plans that resulted in increased rates of active engagement among students/systems targeted Other Regional Professional Learning Initiatives for intervention. • Support for Mental Health Providers: Conducted 7 free professional learning series to address needs for supporting school psychologists and other mental/behavioral health providers in districts that have little local access to professional development or training.

Safety & Security Two (2) meetings for 25 local superintendents and 25 state troopers, part of the “Supers and Troopers” series, were held this year, with one more planned in the spring. The group discussed subjects such as search-and-seizure by schools (as compared to

“[EASTCONN’s] Super-Trooper program has been an outstanding opportunity to present speakers and information, important to both groups, in a format that encourages conversation, collaboration and cooperation between educators and law enforcement officials. Both groups have a common mission, to provide for the best interests of the children and community we serve. These programs have provided us with the tools necessary to accomplish that mission. I have encouraged other organizations to replicate this program in other jurisdictions.” – Francis J. Carino, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney “Our school team has been fortunate to have consulted and collaborated with EASTCONN for a number of years ... [Your] highly knowledgeable and professional team have evaluated and supported several of my students ... in order for the students to better access our curricula, and maximize their learning potential. AT and AAC benefit our students and we appreciate and rely on the EASTCONN team’s expertise.” – Terry Fers, Speech-Language Pathologist, Goodwin School, Mansfield, CT 33


AGENCY GOAL #3 • Other Organizations: Team-building sessions were also provided to the Town of Thompson’s Recreation Department, the Town of Mansfield’s Department of Youth Services, and the AHM (Andover, Hebron and Marlborough) Youth Services Bureau.

law enforcement), protecting school technology and education on the newest apps being used by students. Student-Centered Learning Collaborated with the Great Schools Partnership, CAPSS and ACES on the implementation of a grant funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to serve as Connecticut’s intermediary for building public understanding, support and demand for student-centered approaches to learning. This multiyear initiative will provide coordinated support to 5 Connecticut districts in the planning and facilitation of engagement activities with students, teachers, school board members, parents and community organizations.

Measuring Success MeasureSuccess.Org is an online application supporting several functions of curricular development delivered through a social-media-style interface. Possible uses include the development and assessment of new in-class materials, the development of new rubrics, the alignment of in-class materials to common standards, and the training of educators on rubric-specific performance criteria. This service has already seen success at the national level in the arts, especially in partnership with the National Association of Music Educators.

English Language Learner Mobile-App Support in the Region Technology Solutions developed the capacity to provide professional development and training directly to teachers in support of English Language Learners. These half-day workshops focused on matching curricular goals with iPad/iOS-based applications to support a variety of instructional contexts.

PowerSchool Support Provided on-site professional development and consultation for 6 Consortium members and 1 regional district. Guided 2 Consortium districts in implementing standards-based student achievement reporting in PowerSchool. Improved student information skills of about 100 personnel in 30 PowerSchool-based districts throughout EASTCONN’s service area and the state, through the provision of workshops taught by EASTCONN staff. Continued to provide training at the national level, through both the Northeastern U.S. and National PowerSchool conferences. Provided input on product design and reporting methods to both the CSDE Performance Office team and to the PowerSchool corporate product development team.

2015-2016 Challenges

Killingly teachers performed beautifully together on complex team-building tasks that promoted unity, collaboration and fun.

Traditional Professional Development Our teaching profession is evolving as the “Baby Boomer” generation retires and a younger, more technologically savvy generation of teachers takes over the field. Traditional delivery models of professional development are often costly, inadequate and unappealing to a digital generation of learners. We are challenged to find innovative and cost-effective ways to create integrated and embedded cultures of professional learning that offer blended approaches and that prepare educators to help their students achieve positive outcomes. From our smallest school district to the CSDE, our customers continue to seek effective strategies and face-to-face staff development. We need to continue creating alternative professional learning models. Faced with decreasing budgets, a narrow professional

EASTCONN Adventure Team-Building • District Team-building: Dozens of preK-grade 4 teachers from 1 member district came together for a day of Project Adventure team-building. Staff feedback was overwhelmingly positive, including repeated expressions of appreciation for the opportunity to connect with colleagues from another school site. • OEC Team-building: 15 members of the OEC Division of Early Childhood joined our EASTCONN Adventure staff for a day of team-building and cooperative problem-solving challenges.

“When we all work together as a team and support each other, show respect toward one another, communicate effectively, and listen actively, then we can accomplish anything successfully.” – Teacher, Killingly Memorial School, Killingly Public Schools “EASTCONN has been a tremendous asset to my district. The PowerSchool classes as well as the field migration classes have been a real help to us. [Your PowerSchool Coordinator] is a wealth of information when it comes to PowerSchool.” – Debra Bessenaire, Killingly Intermediate School 34


AGENCY GOAL #3

2016-2017 Plans & Implications

development focus that addresses federal and state departments of education mandates and initiatives, compounded by districtlevel demands for increased proficiency, educators are less and less able to attend our professional learning events.

Innovation in Professional Learning We will continue to revise and expand the array of options we offer for the delivery of professional learning for educators and administrators by taking full advantage of current learning technologies, social media and incorporated elements of blended learning systems. We are continuing our move away from short-term, one-time workshops, whenever possible, toward more sustained, systemic professional learning that integrates the many challenges that educators currently face. We will work with districts to address the problem of getting substitutes and explore other innovative ways to engage students during professional learning time, such as a day with the EASTCONN Adventure program.

Integrated Professional Learning Connecticut’s educators face many state and federal initiatives that have a direct impact on their classroom work and professional experience. They must simultaneously implement many new initiatives, such as Connecticut Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and the new Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks, to name a few. As a result, they are experiencing initiative overload, even as state budgetary constraints significantly reduce funding for required PD. Many face proficiency challenges that require learning opportunities beyond curriculum and assessment, which neither they nor their districts can afford.

Personalized Professional Learning We will continue to develop and promote new learning opportunities for educators that are personalized and responsive to their individual learning needs. To that end, we will seek partners and funding to strengthen our capacity and support for our region’s educators as they master changing demands on their instructional practice.

While EASTCONN is well-positioned to deliver targeted professional development, our opportunities to provide additional learning experiences have been negatively impacted because educators lack sufficient release time and compensation to develop their professional proficiency. Our goal is to maximize local resources to help our districts combine and integrate learning that addresses both state, federal and districtidentified initiatives, and educator-identified goals and needs. Other Professional Learning Challenges Substitute Teacher Shortage The cost and availability of substitutes to enable classroom teachers to attend professional development during school hours continued to be a significant obstacle to attendance. Repeatedly, we heard from district and school leaders about the challenges of finding qualified substitutes. This directly impacts the availability of participation in regional professional development offerings, and limits growth opportunities for educators.

Technology Council provides informal learning opportunities for teachers that can translate into new classroom lessons.

Customized Leadership Support Leaders at the district and school levels are challenged to rapidly learn new processes, and then effectively lead their stakeholders through the professional learning. Individual and small cohorts of leaders require focused and customized responses that are adjusted for their school communities. Helping both new and veteran leaders manage their time, the talent in their schools, and the tools available to teachers continues to require that our staff have a wide range of expertise and the skills necessary to provide individualized coaching and support.

Developing Virtual & Blended Learning Opportunities We will continue to encourage and document informal learning experiences that complement the work of classroom educators. Encouraging and fostering virtual learning for our teachers may well translate into fostering the same for students. We will continue to seek new ways to support educators’ professional learning by increasing pathways for continued growth and

“The programming and staff at EASTCONN-EVC [Educational Vocational Center] Columbia is stellar! It is never an easy decision to outplace a student to a clinical day treatment setting but when this decision has been made through the PPT process, my first thought is EASTCONN-EVC. Programming is comprehensive with a continuum of services for the students, and student progress is meticulously monitored. Communication between EASTCONN and Lebanon is ongoing and critical to the student’s overall success. Attending PPTs at EASTCONN is a pleasure as the staff is always well prepared and the documents are always completely thorough.” – Cheryl Bikert, Lebanon Special Education Director 35


AGENCY GOAL #3 support. One example is our pilot project into a virtual coaching model that incorporates video from the classroom to enable specific and constructive support – without requiring substitute coverage for participating teachers.

and communities. Participants will be guided through ways of bringing compassion and mindfulness to each leadership decision and encounter. Inquiry-Based Instruction Both the new Social Studies frameworks and the Next Generation Science Standards place significant emphasis on inquiry-based instruction. That same theme is also reflected in the Connecticut Core Standards for Language Arts and Mathematics. Collectively these initiatives present a significant need to increase professional learning opportunities around best practices in inquiry-based instruction. Having engaged in conversations with EASTCONN’s Regional Staff Development Council members and other district educators, we’ve identified the need to offer professional learning opportunities in finding coherence/integration across core content areas.

Mobile STEM Professional Learning With the QMC Mobile STEM Lab now operational, and the hiring of a new STEM Lab/Science Education Coordinator, we can provide professional learning resources in STEM areas, with a focus on the Next Generation Science Standards, to teachers and students throughout the region. Highly specialized professional learning, using state-of-the-art equipment, can be delivered to teachers in their own schools. Regional Planning & Development We will maximize professional learning resources by supporting regional planning for professional learning. In times of fiscal constraint, EASTCONN recognizes the need to help districts maximize resources. Small districts are encouraged to collaborate and plan professional learning that can be jointly shared. With district input, we will provide common resources and time for educators to collaborate across district boundaries. Our staff can facilitate peer-learning opportunities in formats where dialogue, problem-solving and teaching strategies are shared with colleagues in ways that ensure increased learning. Specific Professional Learning Initiatives Educational Leadership The Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) focuses on educational reform that aligns the pathways for student, educator and system learning. CEL professional learning this past year focused on 4 areas: grading reform, 360-degree feedback, talent management and community engagement. In 2016-2017, CEL will be focusing on 2 areas: adult learning and Change Theory. As a means of supporting districts’ educational leadership, the CEL will offer theory-of-action cohorts and communities of practice focused on adult learning and change theory to guide system reform. Hosting a national expert on developmental leadership is being researched.

A “Higher Order Thinking Workshop” offered teaching techniques that promote active learning in preschool classrooms. Early Childhood Initiatives (ECI) • Connecticut Early Learning Development Standards (CT ELDS): We will continue to provide professional development for preschool teachers and paraprofessionals around utilizing the CT ELDS to plan meaningful learning experiences for young children. In addition, we will offer professional development on specific domains of the CT ELDS, including social studies, creative arts, math and science.

Expanding Leadership Collaboration In June 2016, we will host a 2-day “Inspire 1.0 Summer Leadership Retreat” for principals, curriculum directors and central office administrators. Discussions will focus on the potential to lead with excellence, and to influence in ways that bring positive change to educational systems, families

• Dual-Language Learning Modules: ECI staff will work on developing dual-language learning modules to help our lowincidence districts better support their children, families and staff.

“Voluntown will use the STEM Lab’s climate change curriculum. Stacey is tailoring the curriculum to what I’m teaching ... The unit on climate change is pretty 21st century.” – Andrea Bunger, Science Teacher, Voluntown Elementary School “At the beginning of this council, I had no idea how to move forward and this process of writing a grant seemed daunting ... [Now] though I have a lot of work in front of me, I feel as though I have a clear direction, the tools to reach our goal and ... an advisor to help us in the process.” – Laura Stefanski, Educator, Grant Development Council member, Thompson Public Schools 36


AGENCY GOAL #3 • Kindergarten Inventory: We will support districts that use the Enhanced Kindergarten Inventory that are interested in piloting the revised baseline assessment. Districts that choose to participate in fall 2016 will be prepared when the new inventory is mandated in 2017.

As we continue to provide on-site technical support to our existing customers, we’ll work with them to plan for new technologies and educational opportunities.  

Other Content Areas

• English Language Learner/Bilingual Education: We will move forward with our ELL and dual-language learner initiatives, beginning with an assessment of capacity versus need in the region. We are recruiting an ELL/ESL Specialist to lead planning and PD in the region, and to directly support districts with LAS Links language assessments.

Professional Learning for Special Education Educators • Related Services Community of Practice: Related Services plans to re-establish a regional Community of Practice to bring practitioners together for professional learning and discussions about current practices and case studies.

• Special Area & Essential Arts Educators: We will offer more regional sessions, and explore avenues to host those events in satellite and/or in-district locations around our region. Plans are underway to offer at least 2 specific regional events in 2016-2017, with deeper learning opportunities for specific content areas. Potential collaborations with our larger districts and UCONN are being investigated.

• Adults with Disabilities: Assistive Technology (AT) services is continuing to expand the provision of services to adults with disabilities. The latest addition to the service delivery program is “Aging in Place.” To support this, 2 AT team members have undergone the necessary training to receive their Certified Aging in Place Specialist certification and will continue their professional development in this area.

• Social Studies: We will expand resources to help districts implement practices that align with the new Social Studies Frameworks, including direct professional development and coaching for Social Studies curriculum designers.

Educational Technology • Gaming in the Classroom: As an offshoot of Technology Council, a focus group of interested educators was assembled from EASTCONN member districts to discuss the potential for gaming in the classroom. The discussion focused on the impact that readily available tabletop games could have on increasing opportunities for students who want to practice negotiating skills, conflict resolution and problem-solving in a safe and familiar context.

• Science: A renewed interest in professional learning for science educators has emerged with the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Summer institutes for teachers and a series of offerings during the year are planned, along with engineering and robotics academies for middle and high school students.

• Application Development: We are pursuing opportunities that leverage our existing intellectual property by marketing internally developed software like “Teacher of the Year” and “Connecticut Educator Network.” The software engines that underpin such services offer significant benefits for other state- or county-level educational services agencies. Offering our software as a series of Cloud-based services with possible tie-ins to Help Desk Support and customization has the potential to drive down our per-user costs, while providing revenues that offset and reduce our fees for in-state and inregion customers. • Expanded IT Services: We are increasing on-site technical support options for our member districts. Among the new, specialized services we are considering are Google Apps for education training, Microsoft Surface Device support, Chromebook management using the Google Admin Console, as well as network security, malware and virus mitigation, and Web site and Intranet development and management.

Our Center for Educational Leadership focuses on reforms that align pathways for students, educators and systems.

“EASTCONN has also worked with CSDE in developing the CAT Data Portal which is designed to assist education leadership programs to use CAT data to help them address student needs. Finally, EASTCONN is continually working with CSDE to ensure that the test is aligned with national and state standards and initiatives, has field tested and implemented an online-test response process known as eCAT that will be fully operational in 2016. This past year, 1,287 CAT and eCAT Candidates registered to take the test and EASTCONN supervised the scoring of 3,015 tests.” – Amanda B. Turner, Ph.D., Education Consultant, CSDE 37


EASTCONN’s Six Divisions ADULT PROGRAMS

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

EASTCONN promotes and supports lifelong learning for parents, workers and residents of northeastern Connecticut. Whether it’s high school completion, job training, workplace literacy or parenting support, EASTCONN’s services are designed to help adults develop new interests, increase their skills and expand their options. Our Adult Programs include: • Adult Education & High School Completion • Community Education • Employment & Training Programs • English Language Learner Services • Parent & Family Programs

EASTCONN is committed to facilitating collaborative, regional approaches to administration operations. From cooperative purchasing to regional staff recruitment, EASTCONN works to find more costeffective ways of using local resources. Our Organizational Support services include: • Administrative Support for Schools • Business & Employer Services • Communications Services • Facilities Services • Human Resources Management • Personnel & Staffing Solutions • Program Design & Development • Technology Services • Transportation Services

EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES EASTCONN works with parents, communities and school to ensure that all children enter school ready to succeed. EASTCONN designs and implements high-quality early childhood education programs and services. We can also assist with data collection, planning and policy development, facilitation and community engagement, workshops for parents and professionals, facilities consultation, and program design and evaluation. Our Early Childhood Initiatives include: • Early Childhood Consultation • Early Childhood Materials & Products • Programs for Young Children & Families

TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES EASTCONN works with educators across northeastern Connecticut to substantively improve instruction, with the goal of increased learning for all children. From standardsbased curriculum design to data-driven school improvement, our specialists offer a broad range of expertise. Our Teaching and Learning services include: • Center for Educational Leadership • Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment • Professional Learning • Regional Councils • School Improvement Strategies

K-12 STUDENT SERVICES EASTCONN works with local school districts to ensure that all the children in our 33-town region, from preschool through high school and beyond, have access to a rich variety of learning opportunities. From in-district support services to regional schools, EASTCONN provides a valuable, additional resource for students, parents and educators. Our K-12 Student Services include: • Academic Enrichment • Assistive Technology • Clinical Day Treatment Services • Magnet Schools & Other Options for Students • Programs for Students with Developmental Disabilities • School-to-Career • Schools for Non-Traditional Learners • Services for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders • Summer, Vacation & After-School Programs • Other Student Services

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS EASTCONN helps schools envision, acquire and maintain technology systems that enhance student learning. From on-site technology integration training to customized database development, we are committed to ensuring that our schools keep pace with the accelerating demand for the effective use of technology. Our Technology Solutions include: • Data Solutions Support & Training • Educational Technology Integration • Technology Infrastructure Support • Technology Products

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ADULT PROGRAMS OVERVIEW

GOALS

Adult Programs comprises four main divisions: Adult Education, Community Education, Employment and Training, and Parent/ Family Programs. Adult Education provides regional adult education services to a consortium of districts that includes 21 northeastern Connecticut towns. Adult Education services are free to residents 17 and older, who reside in consortium towns. Services include: multiple high school completion programs; English-as-a-SecondLanguage instruction; American citizenship preparation; life and basic skills instruction; college transition support; out-of-schoolyouth services; and workplace literacy. Community Education provides low-cost, lifelong learning opportunities for residents of all ages, who can take personal and arts enrichment classes, as well as trips, workshops, online learning and career-advancement skills training. Employment and Training provides job transition support, skills training and customized workplace literacy instruction, in addition to overseeing the Out-of-School-Youth employment program. Parent/Family Programs are provided in close collaboration with the agency’s Early Childhood Initiatives staff, offering both parenting skills instruction and parent-child literacy support. 2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

1. To continue growing our Adult Education consortium offerings and membership, and producing high-quality outcomes for all our adult learners. 2. To meet or exceed the performance criteria for our out-of-school and adult employment and training programs. 3. To expand participation in our Community Education and Capitol Theater Arts Academy (CTAA) programs.

High School Credential Adult Education offers 3 alternatives for completing a high school education: the GED; the Adult High School Credit Diploma Program (CDP); and the HIGH SCHOOL CREDENTIAL GRADUATION RATE National External Diploma Program (NEDP). Of the 415 students enrolled across all 3 credentialing programs, 60 are on track to graduate in June 2016. While enrollment is down 5% from last year, our graduation rate is up from 20% to 26%.

Adult Education Nearly 700 adult learners were enrolled across all Adult Basic Education programs, including High School Credentialing, English-as-a-Second-Language, and our specialized Program Improvement Project (PIP) Grant programs, all of which offer innovative, basic education options to specialized target groups.

• GED: Adult Programs offers GED classes at 8 different locations, supplemented with online preparation. To date, 30 students are projected to graduate with their GED in June 2016, an increase of 7+% over last year. • Spanish GED: Continued Spanish-language curriculum and assessment development to enable us to provide more customized programming for each English Language Learner (ELL) student.

Spanish GED students at our Willimantic-based Adult Education site concentrated on math skills during a recent class.

– Professional Learning for Teachers of English Language Learners: Helped lead statewide PD in this area, which is lacking critical resources and support at the national level. 39


ADULT PROGRAMS • The National External Diploma (NEDP): Students work online independently, then meet one-on-one with our teachers as they work to achieve 100% mastery of the 70 competencies required to earn this nationally recognized diploma. EASTCONN offers this program at 3 different sites. In June 2016, 5 students are projected to graduate with their NEDP.

– Hired an Adult Education Outreach Specialist to create a stronger Spanish-language presence in the community

• Blended Credit Diploma Program (CDP) Learning: Produced and delivered our first video-conferenced CDP class at our 2 regional learning centers in Windham and Danielson for a class of 24 students. The fully integrated social studies and English class enabled 2 teachers to co-teach between the 2 sites, using Google Classroom and professional-quality video conferencing equipment. This blended learning approach will expand credit opportunities for students enrolled in our CDP. • Marketing & Recruitment Initiative: Enrollment in GED continued to be down statewide and our programs are no exception. In response, we initiated a recruitment initiative, and while numbers are not yet at previous highs, enrollment has increased by approximately 35%. Our efforts have included:

A total of 219 ESL students took classes in the greater Windham area to improve their English skills and increase both their employment options and their wage-earning capacity. English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) Programs The majority of ESL programming was delivered at our 2 regional community learning centers; 121 students were enrolled in one of 12 classes at the Community Learning Center in Windham; and 25 were enrolled in one of 4 classes at the Northeast Learning Center in Danielson. These center-based classes were supplemented by 10 classes, located at community-based sites, where an additional 73 students were enrolled. More than 75% of students improved their reading and listening skills, using real-world activities.

– The production of an advertisement for the closed-circuit TVs at the Windham Department of Motor Vehicles office – The filming of a cable commercial that aired in early May; excerpts to be used for Web-based testimonials – Extensive direct mailing and Internet outreach to former and current students – Advertisements in local papers – Referral-incentive initiatives

Multi-Generational Learning Initiative Offered regional, multi-generational programming that co-locates high-quality GED, Spanish GED, and/or ESL instruction for parents with – Backpack flyers for member disHow well did we do it? developmentally appropriate tricts and Web site links and educationally rich childcare of our ESL students – Increased Spanish translations of provided through partnerships materials with providers such as Head Start, improved their Early Head Start, Family Resource – Expanded social media presence & Centers and member districts. This – Increased temporary signage in year, programs were offered at 3 English and Spanish, as well as locations: Windham Public Schools bilingual flyer distribution through (Willimantic), the Plainfield Family local merchants Resource Center and the Putnam Family Resource Center. – Building closer working relationships with local Latino These partnerships allowed parents and children to access organizations, community groups, and early childhood essential educational services and helped parents develop collaborators critical work-readiness skills. This family-centered model

– Expanded presence at Windham Public School and Putnam family nights, local board and community groups, and community events

reading

listening skills

“The teacher is incredibly helpful. He always make sure that I understand one way or the other. He alway finds a way. He also helps us put what we learned here into practice.” – Adult English-as-a-Second-Language student “EASTCONN changed my life. EASTCONN made me feel accomplished and prepared. Now I know I’m ready for anything, thanks to EASTCONN.” – Adult Spanish GED participant 40


ADULT PROGRAMS tic Housing Developments (Windham Heights and Village Heights). Students who traditionally would not be able to attend classes were able to access the same educational opportunities as those who attended classes at our main sites. Several students in the English-language classes are now exploring high school credentialing options.

allowed more responsive programming to meet the needs of both children and adults, while creating opportunities for the collaborative delivery of other services, including transportation and credential preparation classes. • Windham Parent Partnership: Added an evening ESL class in partnership with UCONN Jump Start (through Head Start) and Windham Public Schools, allowing us to offer instruction to 18 higher-level ELL adult students in need of childcare. While the adults were working to improve their English skills to levels needed for professional advancement, their 15 children received dinner from Windham Public Schools and high-quality childcare from UCONN students, all under the supervision of Windham Head Start staff. The class has had outstanding attendance, with adult students making significant gains. The parents are lobbying for us to continue the program and even expand it over the summer.

• National External Diploma Program Project: 20 students are enrolled in the program and we expect 10 will earn their high school diploma through this individualized, portfolio-based approach to learning, where students meet one-onone with an assessor to demonstrate their mastery of core competencies, using real-world applications of knowledge and skill.

Program Improvement Project (PIP) Grants We were awarded 7 competitive PIP grants from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), totaling $255,000, including: • Transition: Preparing for 21st-Century Careers/ Secondary: 50 adults and older youth without a high school diploma prepared for 21st-century Adult careers through this grant. All participants developed a portfolio based on their individual career goals, whether they were about post-secondary education, Program training, military service and/or Project (PIP) employment.

• Integrated English Language/EL Civics Project: 30 immigrant and limited-English Windham residents received English reading and communications instruction, so they could better understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens and immigrants, navigate naturalization procedures and learn about the U.S. government and history in order to become informed parents, workers and community members. Through this program, students not only earned their American Red Cross First Aid/CPR certification, but also worked on the skills needed to pass the National Retail Foundation’s Customer Service Exam.

Learners

Benefited from

• Transition to Post-Secondary: This program provided exploration and transition services to more than 200 adult education students in large group, small group and individualized settings. Through this grant, we reach out to all of our students to provide exposure and encouragement to plan their transition to work, or post-secondary training programs. Targeted follow-up is designed to support and guide students through the process of defining an individualized career-ladder plan and researching post-secondary education or skills-training options. About 75 students are projected to enroll in post-secondary college or skills training. We have expanded our offerings to include bilingual transition services.

Improvement

• Windham Family Learning Project: 30 economically and educationally disadvantaged, limited-English, immigrant parents from the Windham community attended classes where they learned to speak, read and write English, and gain numeracy skills; in addition, parents learned strategies for increasing literacy development in their young children. Parents also had technology classes where they worked on basic skills such how to use a mouse to keyboard, search the Internet and write resumes. • Non-Traditional Adult Education Project: 25 adults, historically underserved due to significant barriers to participation, were enrolled in this project. One class was held at United Services in Putnam for individuals with diagnosed mental illness, while others were held at several Williman-

Grants

• I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education & Skills Training) Academy: 12 adult students are earning their GED, improving their English or basic skills, while also earning either a nationally recognized software application

“Lego [parent education] night was a huge success at Moosup Elementary! The cooperation between EASTCONN Adult Ed Services, UCONN 4-H and the school combined to make an enjoyable and educational evening for all.” – Colleen Lugauskas, Principal, Moosup Elementary School “I only hoped to get my GED and move on, but I have accomplished so much more. In addition to my GED, I earned MOS certification in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. I obtained the National Retail Foundation’s Customer Service and Sales Certification and completed a paid work experience in the med [medical] field.” – Trey Wells, EASTCONN GED student and CAACE 2016 Student of the Year 41


ADULT PROGRAMS credential or customer service credential in this integrated, contextualized learning experience. This program is made possible through braided funding, with the vocational training component being funded through the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB).

Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) This 4-year grant will provide opportunities for 40 (a total of 160 over 4 years) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals to enter and advance along 4 healthcare career pathways: patient care and nursing; emergency medicine; community health and patient navigation; and health information management. Enrollment will begin in May and the program will be delivered in collaboration with EWIB, Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) and Three Rivers Community College (TRCC). Components of the program include: • A work readiness and contextualized, basic-skills boot camp (EASTCONN) • Occupational training, resulting in a community college certificate (QVCC and TRCC) • Intensive, client-centered case management and other supportive services (EASTCONN) • Work-based learning opportunities (EWIB)

Adults of all ages benefit from refreshers in math, English and a variety of subjects as they seek to earn a high school diploma.

• Job placement assistance (EWIB)

Employment & Training Continued our partnership with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) in the delivery of a wide variety of programs and services for economically disadvantaged, unemployed and under-employed adults and out-of school youth in eastern Connecticut and beyond. Across our adult employment and training programs, served more than 480 high-need, underemployed Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) clients. JFES clients are recipients of TemOf JFES & porary Family Assistance and are expected to move rapidly into the found labor market; WIOA clients are either dislocated workers or low-income entered adults lacking the in-demand job skills needed to obtain employment. Upon completion of our programs, 288 entered employment and another 85 entered advanced skills training programs.

We also provided the work readiness and contextualized, basic-skills “boot camp” component for the New Haven and Waterbury workforce boards. New Haven will serve 80 adults per year for a total of 320 participants, and Waterbury will serve 40 per year, for a total of 160 participants. Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) Grant This 3-year manufacturing pipeline initiative grant, serving 425 eastern Connecticut residents, will provide opportunities at Electric WIOA clients; Boat and other local manufacturing employers; enrollment begins in ; May. Delivered in collaboration with EWIB, 2 community colleges and the Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA), the programs program includes:

480 288 jobs 85 other skills-building

training (EASTCONN)

• Basic skills and work readiness

• Customized occupational training i.e. machinists, pipe-fitters, welders, electricians, sheet-metal workers (QVCC and TRCC)

Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (I-BEST) Although EWIB funding for I-BEST programs was reduced statewide, we were able to offer classes in Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and Customer Service at 5 sites. To date, 25 have earned a nationally recognized credential, and all have improved their basic skills.

• Supportive services through case management (TVCCA) • On-the-job training (EWIB)

“I came to the WIOA program uncertain about my future. Would I be able to find meaningful and gainful employment again? How difficult would it be to start over with a new career? My Workforce adviser quickly helped me put together a vocational and educational plan that restored my confidence and gave me optimism about my vocational goals. WIOA connected me to the resources I needed to get back to school and become a CNA. Most importantly, the program gave me a sense of worth and dignity by supporting my aspirations to be a useful and positive part of the workforce. As I move forward in my career, I will always look back with gratitude to WIOA for being the launch pad to a new and better life.” – Jace Paul, WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker client 42


ADULT PROGRAMS Customized Workplace Training Received 3 inquiries and developed 2 contracts for customized, on-site, workplace education programs: • ESL for 15 employees at InCord in Colchester to supplement technical training provided by Three Rivers Community College. • Spanish-language training for 60 educators employed by Windham Public Schools, an 8-week program offering both beginner and intermediate/advanced Spanish language instruction. This conversational curriculum is designed to emphasize words and phrases that are most useful for educators, in order to have a direct impact on their daily practice in the classroom and outreach to parents. CTAA, our community arts outreach program at the Capitol Theater, offered 63 arts enrichment classes to 281 youth.

Community Education Our Community Education program featured performing arts classes, in addition to enrichment classes, job-skills training opportunities and trips. Together, both programs enrolled 586 participants.

Reductions in State Funding for Adult Education We anticipate that State Adult Education reimbursements to towns will be How much did we do? reduced next year, even as our operat425 Eastern CT residents ing costs, including personnel costs, continue to rise. began their transition to high-

• Community-Based Classes & Special Events: Provided an exciting and diverse array of classes and learning experiences for 305 participants. Offered 82 new classes and 35 new bus trips. Some skills manufacturing jobs WIOA Reauthorization of the new and popular classes included through our basic skills & The state’s unified plan for workforce Introduction to Smartphone and Tablets work readiness classes. investment is expected to be approved and Intro to Computers for Seniors. by federal Department of Labor in Sporting-event bus trips continued to be June, with implementation to begin in July 2016. Title II well received with more than 50 participants per trip. Federal PIP grants will now be tied to the same program • Capitol Theater Arts Academy (CTAA): CTAA, our outcomes as our Title I programs (WIOA Out-of-School Youth regional, after-school, community arts outreach program, and WIOA Adult and Dislocated Workers). These outcomes had 281 enrollments in 63 classes and private lessons. CTAA include employment, credential attainment and/or postproduced both dance and musical theater performances, secondary training. Additionally, we will be required to track attracting 600+ audience members. Additionally, a new parparticipants for a year after they complete each program. Since ents’ advisory group was formed to support program growth these are new requirements, procedures must be developed and and improvement. staff hired and trained to meet these new outcomes. Another uncertainty is the new accountability standards required of all states, which could potentially result in financial penalties 2015-2016 Challenges to programs like ours, if they do not meet certain federally required outcomes. CTAA Tuition Cost continued to be an issue for enrollment in CTAA Enrollment programs. Additional revenue could reduce program fees and Statewide enrollment in adult education programs continues allow us to offer scholarships. Competition with other private to be lower than it has been historically, and EASTCONN is and municipal programs continued to limit the market. no exception. It is believed that the transition to electronic “You need to learn English and EASTCONN is the perfect place to do it. If you need success and want to move forward in life, go to EASTCONN.” – Adult English-as-a-Second-Language student “The facts that I learned were enlightening. I will give a second and third thought to retiring before my full retirement age because I learned about the penalties and options.” – Peter Curry, Social Security Planning class participant 43


ADULT PROGRAMS testing for both the GED and the NEDP diploma is a major contributing factor, as well as the declining population in northeastern Connecticut and the continued lack of regional, public transportation.

Spanish GED Focus Group By initiating a Spanish GED focus group within Connecticut, EASTCONN hopes to help programs share resources and build a library of tools to support our Spanish-language students as they work toward their high school credential.

Spanish GED Tools While publishers have continued to expand the variety and availability of resources for preparing English-language students for the GED, the response from publishers has been painfully slow for students preparing for a new version of the Spanish GED. Teachers have had to create their own materials to translate English materials.

Plans & Implications for 2016-2017 CTAA There are plans to increase enrollment and generate additional revenue through more diverse offerings, as well as through the opening of a satellite CTAA at our new community learning facility in Danielson.

A 2Gen partnership with Windham Public Schools and Head Start made it possible for parents, who had requested the training, to earn their American Red Cross certificates in CPR/FirstAid, bringing them highly prized expertise that they can use to help family and community members. The training was provided with the help of a certified Spanish medical translator.

Adult Education Consortium We will maintain the same fees for our member districts, despite our rising costs. To offset increased costs, we will continue to look for new sources of funding and opportunities to implement innovative, cost-saving practices.

Two-Generational (2Gen) Partnerships We will continue to expand our partnerships in order to develop our multi-generational, 2Gen initiatives and provide 2Gen programming to more students throughout our region. Through community partnerships focused on delivering educational opportunity, job-skills training and other supports to low-income families, our 2Gen collaborations will continue to work to reduce barriers to socioeconomic and educational achievement, helping parents and their children move toward whole-family success at home and in their communities.

What difference did it make?

“EASTCONN changed my life. Now I know I’m ready for anything ...”

GED Recruitment Initiatives We will continue to expand our social media and community presence, and seek to engage viewers for, and generate positive responses to our GED commercial on cable TV; we plan to include video testimonials on our EASTCONN Adult Programs Web pages. We are continuing to reach out to our districts about co-locating GED classes.

“We want to learn and we want to make sure we’re there when our families need help.” “We are exposed to emergency situations like this all the time. We want to know what to do at the right moment.” “We want to be like the Good Samaritan. We want to be able to help when someone needs help.” – 2Gen program participants, explaining through a Spanish interpreter why they wanted American Red Cross certification in CPR/First-Aid 44


EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES OVERVIEW

GOALS

Early Childhood Initiatives, which focuses on children from birth to grade 3, offers a wide array of consultation, professional development, coaching and direct services to the region’s school districts and communities. Through these initiatives, professional development is provided to early care and education programs and public schools in our region, including support for strategic planning, program development, accreditation and professional learning on standards, curriculum, assessment and instruction. Parent education is also provided. We administer and provide direct services to children and their families as the grantee for the state-funded Birth to Three program, and the federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Windham and Tolland Counties.

1. Families access and use resources and services to support the positive social-emotional, physical development/health, language and cognitive development in their children. 2. Programs serving children from birth to age 8 are of high quality. 3. Children enrolled in the Early Childhood Initiatives programs develop knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to be successful. 4. EASTCONN early childhood programs and services are models of evidence-based practice and serve as a resource to families, programs, agencies and schools.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

Head Start Our federally and state-funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs are comprehensive, child-development programs that served a combined total of 466 low-income children and their families at a total of 14 sites and home-based programs across Tolland and Windham counties.

Regional Programs for Young Children & Families Birth to Three EASTCONN’s Birth to Three program served families in 30 of the 33-town EASTCONN catchment area, averaged more than 12 referrals each month, and maintained an ongoing caseload of 64 children per month. Although the average number of referrals went down this year, the caseload actually increased because the number of referred eligible applicants was higher. • Child Outcomes: 95% of children exiting from Birth to Three have met their Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) goals; all children in our program made gains, including 3 children with significant developmental syndromes. • Family Surveys: Results were very encouraging, with 98% providing positive answers on the Federal Guideline parental feedback questions, including their awareness of their rights and responsibilities, their ability to describe and discuss their child’s disability and their increased understanding of child development.

Head Start programs encourage hands-on, cooperative play to support children’s interpersonal and executive function skills. • Early Head Start: Provided center-based services for 40 infants and toddlers, 102 home-based infants and toddlers, and 8 children who had a locally designed program combining a center-based experience with monthly home visits.

• Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS): Aided Connecticut’s Birth to Three Central Office by providing information on how our Birth to Three program is using ELDS to guide goal development in relation to services provided to children.

• Family Goals & Stress Factors: Continued to use the multi-dimensional Family Functioning Scale to measure the achievement of family-defined goals and the stress factors

“You are clearly valued as a community expert ... I am amazed by the variety of phone calls seeking assistance that you field. Thanks for being a beacon of guidance in the northeast corner of Connecticut!” – Eileen McMurrer, Connecticut Birth to Three program 45


EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES that impede them in our Head Start programs.

Professional Learning & Support for Early Childhood Educators

– Data indicated that families in the program continued to have a complex series of needs: 31% of the families made goals related to Basic Needs, 22% created goals related to Caring for Child, and 21% have demonstrated needs in Understanding Child Development, which translated into the need for comprehensive services. For families in their third year of participation, increased functioning was statistically significant in all domains except for Stress and Family Fights, and Mental Health. – By mid-year, 9% of families enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start programs had already met the goals that they had set, and 69% were making progress. Results helped guide intervention and program improvement efforts. Staff received Motivational Interviewing training this fall and as a result, more goals were set in multiple areas with families.

Professional learning workshops help early childhood teachers stay current on a variety of content and pedagogical topics.

• UCONN Collaboration: Collaborated on a research project studying attainment of goals set by the families with a focus on our home-based and center-based Early Head Start and Head Start programs. During fall and winter of the 2015-2016 school year, the number of goals identified rose from 395 to 623. This equated to an increase in approximate number of goals per child from 1.2 to 1.6 goals; these were created as a direct result of Motivational Interviewing professional learning provided to home visitors to set attainable goals with families, so they would feel successful and increase their motivation to set additional goals. This training has been extended to all family service workers. In addition, a 63% increase in the number of goals with documented progress was reported from fall 2015 to winter 2016.

Early Childhood Professional Development • Regional Workshops: Provided 17 different workshops for 400 community-based, early-care providers, on a wide variety of content and pedagogy topics. Attendees included pre-K and kindergarten teachers, paraprofessionals, teacher assistants, curriculum coordinators, early childhood administrators, infant/toddler teachers and paraprofessionals, Birth to Three providers, infant/toddler program administrators and related services staff working with infants/ toddlers, including occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists.

• Child Outcome Data: Continued our work with a psychometrics expert to optimize the data from observations related to school readiness indicators for the purpose of improving instruction. Related data will be analyzed to study the impact of our work in communities promoting the development of executive function in young children. • Head Start School Readiness: Continued to show significant progress in comparing kindergarten-eligible children, using the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Frameworks. By the end of 2015-2016, the data preliminarily indicates that 82% of our Head Start children will meet the anticipated benchmark.

Author/educator Karen Nemeth, an expert in learning, cognition and development, provided PD on effective teaching during the Infant/Toddler Conference held at EASTCONN.

• National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation: All 3 of EASTCONN’s Head Start and Early Head Start center-based care programs maintained their accreditation by NAEYC, focusing this past year on program portfolios, classroom portfolios and best practices regarding the quality of services.

• Infant/Toddler Conference: Coordinated a 3rd annual regional conference focused on infants and toddlers,with a concentration on building oral-language skills, attended by 95 early childhood professionals, an increase of 11% over 2015.

“Killingly Public Schools has a strong collaboration with EASTCONN in implementing a Head Start program in our Killingly High School. Being located in our high school, this program affords our high school students an opportunity to observe early childhood best practice, as well as provide developmentally appropriate activities that meet the needs and interests of the preschool-aged children. This highly successful model focuses on child outcomes and prepares children to enter Killingly Public Schools ready to learn.” – Kevin Farr, Superintendent, Killingly Public Schools 46


EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES and Development Standards (CT ELDS), social-emotional development, developmental screening, Response to Intervention and referral to special education. In addition, the OEC plans to add such focus areas as supporting dual-language learners and culturally responsive practices. Playful Learning Pilot Eighty (80) early childhood teachers and families from 2 districts participated in a pilot program, Supporting Educational Success Through Playful Learning: A Focus on Preschool and Kindergarten. These training modules, developed by EASTCONN in collaboration with the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative with funding from the Lego TM Community Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, are designed to help teachers and families collaborate around purposeful play that supports learning standards. Facilitation guides for administrator professional learning communities were also designed to promote rigorous discussion of the cognitive benefits of play. Upon completion of the pilot, these modules will be available statewide.

Vernon Head Start children carefully completed an assignment, demonstrating their all-important ability to follow instructions. • Improving Executive Function, Language, Literacy & Math Skills: Provided training and on-site coaching in 13 communities to 124 preschool and kindergarten teachers, an increase of 61% over last year. Increases in executive function, social skills, literacy and math are evident in our collaborative programs, where integrated curricular approaches and strategies continued to support positive child outcomes. This leads to individuals learning how to make healthy choices for themselves and their families throughout their lives, and experiencing lifelong benefits, like interacting positively with others in situations that require problem-solving.

Early Childhood Consultation & Support School Readiness Grant Staff served in the school-readiness-liaison or monitoring role for 9 communities, where they utilized a consistent process and tool to ensure that the requirements for the School Readiness Grants were met. As a result, more communities are asking for these services.

Coaching Coaching was provided in 13 communities that received funding for preschool expansion as a method for delivering ongoing professional learning. EASTCONN’s role of providing professional learning for Low-income Early Childhood/Pre-K coaches working on behalf of Survey the Connecticut Office of Early & their enrolled in Collaborated with our Childhood (OEC) helps the Technology Solutions & our OEC test professional-learning division, the Connecticut growth models where individAssociation of Public School programs ualized professional learning Superintendents (CAPSS) specifically targets its areas of and OEC in gathering data focus to promote better outdescribing public pre-K classrooms in districts across the state. comes for children and competencies in teaching staff.

children families Head Start Early Head Start

Integrated Trauma Model Pilot Collaborated with the Windham Early Childhood Center and the UCONN Psychological Services Clinic to create an integrated Trauma Model for Child Care Services for the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Integrated interventions for children and families impacted by trauma are expected to produce a reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms with an increase in

Professional Development Grant Collaborated with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) on the development and coordination of professional development services for the federal Professional Development Grant. EASTCONN is responsible for managing the coaches who are delivering comprehensive professional learning in the priority areas of: the Connecticut Early Learning

“EASTCONN and Putnam Public Schools collaborate in a variety of ways to support the families and children of Putnam. One of these collaborations includes offering shared professional development opportunities to our early childhood teaching staff, allowing our teaching staff to work together to provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences for our children ,as well a supporting their professional learning. EASTCONN continues to collaborate with Putnam Family Resource Center, also located in the Putnam Elementary School, providing parent engagement activities.” – Bill Hull, Superintendent, Putnam Public Schools 47


EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES adaptive social skills. Plans are underway to finalize an innovative difficulties in scheduling and long wait-times for critical services. integrated model and it is expected to be up-and-running by fall. Of concern, our programs are seeing indications of children who have experienced trauma that impacts their ability to self-regulate. Two-Generational (2Gen) Initiatives Formed and facilitated a multi-disciplinary team of agency colleagues in response to the identified need to build a Plans & Implications for 2016-2017 regional, two-generation-focused (2Gen) continuum of highquality, integrated services and programming that increase Assessment-Driven Program Changes the educational success, economic security, community In order to have a greater impact at an earlier point in children’s connections, and health-and-well-being of eligible children, and families’ lives, we are using data from the community assessparents and families in our region. The team’s initial focus ment to address unmet needs and begin planning for an increased was to create a working model of two-generational, or 2Gen, number of full-day, Early Head Start slots in the coming year. programming and services across EASTCONN before rolling it This will mean a reduction of Head out. The model will identify, connect Start slots in order to meet the needs What difference did it make? and build inter-agency partnerships of families who require a longer day “This highly successful [Head among divisions that can provide to go to school and work. There will high-quality, sustainable, 2Gen Start] model focuses on child be an expansion of Early Head Start programming. Private/public funding services and an overall reduction in outcomes & prepares children to will be sought to support 2Gen Head Start to best respond to identienter [school] ready to learn.” program implementation. fied local needs. Executive Function Plans are in place to expand our work with executive function and increase capacity in districts that are interested in expanding their use of executive function-building strategies.

2015-2016 Challenges Staff Capacity Requests from across the state for training and coaching on executive function continued to exceed our current staff capacity to deliver.

Dual-Language/English Language Learner Support We will continue to contribute to the development and implementation of an agency-wide strategy for better addressing the needs of dual-language learners. Plans are in place to develop training modules to meet the needs of districts with low-incidence students.

Birth to Three Funding The “tightrope walking” required for maintaining a quality program and dedicated staff, while also balancing the budget, continued to take constant care and monitoring in our Birth to Three program. The current Birth to Three transition to a “feefor-service” model for Medicaid reimbursement, expected to be a requirement in 2017, will further complicate this issue. A plan has been sent to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal office charged with determining fees, and we are currently engaged in planning necessary, new in-house procedures.

Two-Generational (2Gen) Initiatives 2Gen programs directly serve children and their parents simultaneously, through education, provision of economic supports, referral of services to support needs, and workplace training to increase social capital. A primary goal in the coming year is to support a seamless system of referrals internally to customers at EASTCONN that will meet both the child and parent’s educational needs. Efforts will be made to connect clients across the agency with the needed supports that are available for families at risk and vulnerable populations that would benefit from these services. Through increased awareness of the model, the agency will seek funding to support this initiative.

Increased Mental Health Needs in Younger Children Increased mental health consultations have been provided this year for our Early Head Start and Head Start children and families, in response to increased need. Few resources are available in the region to sufficiently address the demand, resulting in

“I had the privilege of visiting EASTCONN’s Killingly Head Start and Early Head Start programs recently and was impressed with how the program supports Killingly’s most at-risk families and children. In addition, I am aware of EASTCONN’s active participation on the Northeast Early Childhood Council, where Head Start participates as a strong collaborator to promote health and hearing screenings for young children in the Northeast region. EASTCONN is also a solid advocate for more Early Head Start and Head Start spaces in the Northeast region, which will provide additional, necessary services to children and families in need. Additionally, the Northeast Community Collaboration, a partnership hosted by EASTCONN, is an important group which focuses on enhancing services for children throughout the community and brings together social service agencies, health organizations, LEA’s, and legislators to share resources in our region.” – Connecticut State Rep. Christine Rosati, 44th Assembly District 48


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES OVERVIEW

GOALS

K-12 Student Services offers a comprehensive continuum of services for students with a wide spectrum of challenging conditions and academic interests. From magnet high school options to a range of services for students on the autism spectrum, this division is dedicated to meeting the needs and interests of students from across our region. The focus is on serving each individual student. Our success is, and will continue to be, built upon improving the quality of our programs and services. We strive to achieve this by building our capacity, running programs that are financially sound and producing outstanding educational results that satisfy parents, students, teachers, administrators and our regional partner school districts.

1. To prepare all students in EASTCONN magnet schools and special education programs to successfully pursue their college and career goals. 2. To implement high-quality, best-practice programs and instructional approaches that will better serve students in our region.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) ACT enrolled 130 full-time students this academic year, from 24 sending districts. The overall retention rate at ACT (students returning each year) is 87.38%. ACT will graduate its 6th class in June, with 33 seniors from 11 districts, among them, Lebanon, Norwich, Plainfield, Windham, Tolland, Region 8, Region 11 and Region 19.

Regional Magnet High Schools EASTCONN operates 2 regional magnet high schools in collaboration with member districts that elect to be our partners. These 2 schools, a performing arts high school (Arts at the Capitol Theater – ACT) and a middle college (Quinebaug Middle College – QMC), expand the public school choices available to high school students in the 33-town/36-district region that we serve. These magnet schools are designed for students with special interests, whether they connect with a performing arts-infused curriculum (ACT), or a nontraditional college campus experience (QMC).

• Advanced Studies: 6 students took the AP Statistics Exam in 2015, an increase of 3 students from 2014, allowing more students to earn potential college credit. ACT students have access to a program with Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) that enables 6 ACT upperclassmen to take up to 4 ECSU college classes per year at no cost. • Creative Writing Student Recognition: 18 students’ creative writing works were among regional winners in the national 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a prestigious national program that has supported teenagers’ artistic development since 1923. Students won a total of 39 awards – a record-breaking number, which included 12 Gold Keys, 13 Silver Keys and 14 Honorable Mentions in the annual contest’s New England-region competition. One Gold Key winner went on to win a Silver Key at the national level, a rare honor. In addition, 2 students were selected to attend the prestigious New England Young Writers Conference in May 2016 at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in Vermont, and 4 students were honored for their poetry and/or fiction by UCONN’s statewide Connecticut Writing Project contest for creative-writing students in grades K-12.

ACT’s talented, award-winning Creative Writing students earned kudos for poetry and fiction in multiple competitions.

“I have spent the past 4 years intensively studying the performing arts on a daily basis, in conjunction with my core academics; a course of study which I firmly believe has enriched my education to its fullest potential. The atmosphere of creativity and dedication that follows me from class to class and buzzes through the very air of our school is what makes it such a special world to be a part of, surrounded by peers who genuinely want to be there and who share the same passions, encouraging each other to push the envelope of success. The education I have received has prepared me to face the professional world of theatre with knowledge and excitement, a step ahead of the game, and an appreciation for what it means to work hard to achieve your goals. I wouldn’t trade what I have gained there for the world.” – Adrianna Simmons, Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) Class of 2016 49


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES • Audio/Video Student Achievements: Students from ACT’s Audio/Video Production program had 3 videos place among the Top 10 finalists in Connecticut’s annual, statewide DMV Teen Safe Driving Video contest; one ACT video took Fifth Place overall in the contest. ACT is the only high school in the state to have placed in the Top 10 each year since the contest began in 2007.

year. In fall 2015, 100% of students in 14 courses earned passing grades, and in spring 2016, 72% have thus far earned passing grades in 30 courses. • Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) Grant Year 3: The $1.4-million MSAP federal grant, in its third year at QMC, has continued to expand the school’s STEMinfused curriculum. QMC has added a total of 9 new classes since the inception of the grant to provide a more robust collection of STEM classes and learning options for students. Two of the newest interdisciplinary courses include Classics for STEM and STEM/Robotics. In addition, students are benefiting from interdisciplinary learning opportunities in the form of magnet-themed units and project-based learning throughout all curricular areas.

• Vocal Awards: 3 voice-performance students took home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place awards in the Windham Regional Arts Council High School Vocal Awards, 10-12th grade level. • National Honor Society: 7 students were inducted into ACT’s chapter of the National Honor Society, in its 5th annual induction ceremony in October. • Post-Secondary Plans: ACT seniors continued to be accepted into competitive colleges, including Marymount Manhattan, North Carolina School of the Arts, Ithaca College, UCONN, Emerson College, Drexel University and Columbia College of Chicago. • Instructional Rounds: ACT piloted school-based, teacher-led instructional rounds this year. A group of 6 teachers were trained in the Instructional Rounds protocol, developed a problem of practice and conducted school-based rounds. The group used data collected during the rounds to develop a professional development action plan for the 2016-2017 school year, specifically designed to meet ACT teachers’ needs. We intend to expand this model of instructional rounds to QMC and other EASTCONN programs; several districts in the region have requested more information regarding the implementation of teacher-led rounds.

Area educators got a chance to visit EASTCONN’s surprisingly roomy QMC Mobile STEM Lab, where they watched a science video before conducting an experiment on local soil samples. – QMC Mobile STEM Lab: The QMC Mobile STEM lab was officially launched, providing authentic environmental education opportunities to QMC students, as well as middle school students, throughout the EASTCONN region. Several districts, including Marlborough, Lebanon and Voluntown, have begun to pilot the use of the lab, and we provided training for school staff wishing to use the QMC Mobile STEM Lab as a learning experience for students. – Engineering and Robotics: Through the MSAP grant, QMC has established a partnership with UCONN to provide graduate-student mentors in the areas of engineering and robotics. Through a new course in STEM/ Robotics, students explore elements of engineering design and programming to build and operate robots.

Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) Located on the campus of Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), and featuring a student-driven democratic learning community, QMC enrolled 178 students in grades 9-12 from 18 towns in its rigorous, humanities-rich and STEMintegrated program, which offers student access to college courses at no cost. QMC enrollment continued to increase in size and diversity. • College Credits: This year, 139 students enrolled in College and Career Pathways classes for QVCC college credit, including courses in First Year Experience, Investigations in Health Care Careers, Public Speaking and Intermediate Algebra. All told, 37 students took 44 courses directly through QVCC. Another 18 students enrolled in the first year of UCONN’s Early College Experience (ECE) Academic Reading & Writing class, for UCONN credit.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Accreditation QMC and ACT are in their first “self-study” phase of NEASC Accreditation. All staff members, from administrators

• Successful Outcomes: In addition to a 40% increase in the number of students participating in college-level courses, QMC had a much-improved college course success rate this

“Coming to QMC, and my experience, has had a positive impact on me. I came here with a second chance where I was accepted by people and felt comfortable. I was able to reach my full academic achievements through taking college courses.“ – Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) student 50


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES to teachers and instructional support staff – with the help than 50 students participated in last summer’s extended schoolof EASTCONN Central Office, community members and year services, representing a 20% increase in participation. A parents – are engaged in the deep total of 12 students are on track to work of analyzing our adherence to graduate in June 2016. How well did we do it? the NEASC standards in teaching, learning and support for learning. Autism Program & Services “[My ACT education] has prepared me to Provided 10 students from 7 disface the professional world of theatre, a tricts with comprehensive, cen Magnet School Student step ahead of the game...I wouldn’t trade ter-based educational and behaviorLeadership what I’ve gained here for the world.” al services, an increase of 25% over Eight (8) students from QMC and last year. We combined staff from ACT were selected by administrators multiple disciplines in a wrap-around model that follows best to participate in the first Student Leadership Cohort. Copractices grounded in applied behavioral analysis. Inclusion sponsored and facilitated by EASTCONN’s Center for remained the ultimate goal and drove the philosophy, staffing Educational Leadership and the K-12 Educational Services and instructional programming for our students. division, students are learning about the attributes of leadership and are developing their skills in this 2-year program focused on school- and community-based advocacy. Standards-Based Grade Reform Teachers and administrators at ACT and QMC attended workshops to learn more about standards-based grading, in an effort to more meaningfully convey information to students and parents about academic growth and achievement. Groups of teachers from each school have formed a districtlevel community of practice and have spearheaded pilots of standards-based assessment and reporting; their work will inform decision-making, as we make transitions in our grading policies. Special Education Programs & Services

K-12 students continued to thrive in our Clinical Day Treatment programs, where caring staff and best practices in academic, vocational and clinical programming meet students’ needs.

Clinical Day Treatment (CDT) Programs Fully enrolled and serving almost 100 students from 30 different sending districts, our 3 CDT Programs are strategically located to minimize travel time for students. The 3 programs, Educational Vocational Center (EVC) in Columbia, Northeast Regional Program (NRP) in Putnam, and Southeast Regional Program (SRP) in Plainfield, merge best practices in academic, vocational and clinical programming to meet the needs of students in grades K-12 with significant social, emotional and behavioral issues. We accomplished increased participation by, and connection with, our families through 4 family-focused events per site that included family nights, open houses and curriculum events. Extended school-year services will be offered again this summer at the EVC site in Columbia. More

Assistive Technology (AT) • Direct Services to Students/Clients: 29 students from 29 member districts, as well as 8 adult clients from 2 statewide Bureau of Rehabilitative Services (BRS) adult services programs, received assessment services from our AT team. • Professional Learning and Support: 11 districts purchased an AT Consortium package, providing them with priority scheduling of services, access to our expanding AT Lending Library and participation in specially designed Consortium trainings. The AT team delivered 30 trainings, including 2 national presentations, on a range of AT topics; 179 educators

“I have good support here at EASTCONN and the teachers understand when I need help with my work. I like the class sizes. I get a lot of support here because there is a lot of clinical support and not only one guidance counselor you have to make an appointment with. There are three and they are available on demand. We can work here and make money. We learn job skills that will help us in the future. I love the support I get here!” – Caroline K, Student, Educational and Vocational Center (EVC), Columbia “The AT [Assistive Technology] Consortium provides us with consistent opportunities for staff and students to learn the newest in AT and how to incorporate that into the student’s school day.” – Dr. Rachel D. Leclerc, Director of Special Education and Support Services, Mansfield Public Schools 51


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES attended our professional learning events; along with 15 family members and 7 individuals with a disability; 264 subscribers received digital notifications regarding new AT products and services through our online list-serve. In addition, we were present at the Connecticut AT Fair to raise awareness about new AT products and trends, as well as EASTCONN’s AT services.

education in several of our districts. Of note, 2 districts purchased new or enhanced contract services, allowing them to expand their continuum of student services without having to hire additional staff. Additionally, 2 private educational entities within EASTCONN’s geographic region purchased related services. Woodstock Academy Cooperative (WAC) This collaborative program between Woodstock Academy and EASTCONN provided services for 7 high-school-age students from 3 different districts who have intellectual and other significant developmental disabilities. EASTCONN Special Education personnel and Woodstock Academy educators worked together with individual students and families to facilitate student growth in identified educational areas and transition planning. All students participated in regular education courses and in unified courses, including music, food preparation, physical education and extra-curricular unified sports that included basketball, soccer, and more. Students applied math, literacy and independent living skills during community-based field trips throughout the school year. Vocational opportunities were available through job-shadow experiences, internships and ongoing assessments of their career profile.

Related services staff, like physical therapists, provide one-onone support to autism students, who blossom with extra care.

Students

Related Services Group (RSG) RSG worked with 21 of our districts supporting 589 students, from preschool to age 21, an increase of 14% over last year. Students benefited from direct therapy, classroom-based therapy, and co-teaching and professional collaboration, across a wide range of settings. Our RSG includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and speech language pathology assistants. Of the 589 students served (and their educational teams), 88 students received support in occupational therapy, 408 received support in physical therapy and 93 received support from speech-language pathologists. The 41% increase in students receiving PT services reflects the increasing collaboration with physical

received

PT, OT, Speech-Language Therapies and Other Supports Regional Transition Services (RTS) RTS provided progressive transition services for 7 young adults (ages 18-21) with a broad range of disabilities at our Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC)-located site through meaningful community vocational experiences, the development

“[Your Assistive Technology staff] …was able to assess how my disability impacts my ability to complete the written aspects of my job. [She] is patient, empathetic, and successful in presenting interventions (using the resources/ tools) that enhance my skills … an experience that has removed the stigma of shame I have experienced because of my physical limitations.” – Donna H. Hunter, MSW, an Assistive Technology adult client “EASTCONN has always proven to be a reliable resource for our educational needs. They have consistently provided professional, knowledgeable services to best meet the needs of all of our students. Their caring, knowledgeable staff have truly been a benefit to our students and staff, and we have been fortunate to have benefited from their commitment to providing outstanding educational services.” – Jim Shifrin, Special Education Teacher, Hampton Public Schools “As of graduating eighth grade, S. was unable to read at any functioning level. In the past two years, I have seen remarkable growth in S. – both academically, personally, and socially. … Her academic work has flourished, and her improved confidence is apparent. The daily living skills that she has gained … have been remarkable, and so important to [her] success.” – Joyce Grayson, foster parent of a Woodstock Academy Cooperative student 52


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES of independent living skills, fiscal management and college readiness opportunities. Students enrolled as QVCC students, attended college classes independently and received RTS support outside of class with study skills, time management and access to college supports. Students were encouraged to use technology to assist them in accomplishing tasks throughout their day and to mentor one another. Strong partnerships were developed with families, QVCC Student Support Services and adult service providers, including the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), which helped provide successful transition-to-adulthood supports for each participant. Of note, with guidance from staff, students planned and ran a “Transitioning with Technology” forum for families, and a presentation session at the Connecticut Tech Act’s 2nd Achievement Through Technology Conference on April 1, 2016.

intended outcomes of this legislation was to identify more efficient approaches to the administration of special education services. As part of the statute, RESCs were charged with developing a regional model for the provision of therapeutic services, as well as a regional education training plan for teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals and special education administrators.  After-School, Vacation & Enrichment Programs

Psychological & Behavioral Consultation Services (PBCS) Our consultative services and professional development services were accessed by 21 districts, benefiting more than 3,000 students; a total of 20 districts contracted for assessment and evaluation services, an increase of 65% from last year. We developed Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) with data teams in 5 districts; and developed in-district supports for students with autism spectrum disorders in 10 districts. Of note, we provided a certified school psychologist in 2 districts that do not employ a district-based school psychologist.

NCIS? Almost! 175 students sharpened science and collaboration skills during Forensic Detectives, an Interdistrict Grant.

• Professional Learning: Delivered 30+ formal professional development sessions in 10 districts for audiences of between 15 and 100 per session, including paraprofessionals, special education teachers, school psychologists, other school-based mental health providers and administrators. Provided ongoing training and consultation in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to 5 districts. Delivered a free, regional professional learning series attended by 50+ area professionals from 20 districts focused on building skills in the areas of mental health and behavioral support. Workshops were completely full and feedback was extremely positive.

Interdistrict Grants Our 10 CSDE-funded Interdistrict Grants benefited more than 2,800 students, grades 2-12, and 100+ of their teachers from 15 different districts. Students from racially isolated urban districts joined students from our racially isolated rural districts to participate in authentic and engaging project-based learning opportunities that integrate core disciplinary studies with multi-cultural education. As a result of their participation: 82% of students demonstrated an increase in content knowledge specific to the academic area of their grant program, and 89% of students increased their understanding of bullying and acceptance/respect of others, and demonstrated an appreciation of diverse cultures and traditions. Local and nationally known university content specialists, storytellers, African drummers, Holocaust survivors, immigrants, engineers, scientists and photo-journalists were among the many guest speakers and experts in all core disciplines who collaborated with EASTCONN staff and district educators to engage students in exciting discoveries

Special Education Survey Conducted a regional survey to identify priority areas of special education need as part of a statewide RESC Alliance response to recent state legislation drafted by the Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE), Special Education Working Group. One of the

“RTS has been invaluable in providing my son with the skills needed as he transitions from school to adulthood. They have worked diligently in developing his work, social and daily life skills, which will enable him to be successful in his future endeavors.” – Beth Poplawski, parent of an Regional Transition Services student “As I was driving to work today, I was thinking about how much I am enjoying working with your PBCS [Psychological Behavioral Consultation Staff]. I am feeling confident that I will accomplish much this year with their support … I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate their knowledge, adaptability and professionalism.” – Jackie Angelone, School-Wide Behavior Case Manager, Sterling Community School 53


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES and explorations. Some Interdistrict Grant highlights:

Employment & Training Programs for In-School Youth More than 100 youth from 11 eastern Connecticut high schools received services throughout their junior and senior years and in their first year post-graduation from this Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB)-funded program. EASTCONN, in collaboration with New London Youth Affairs and Norwich Human Services, provided a continuum of services. Together, partners used a case management model within a pipeline structure to identify career pathways that would keep participants in school, while providing direction for post-high-school work opportunities. Student outcomes included positives like: 92% of students increased their math, reading and occupational skills; 98% of exited youth graduated from high school or received their GED; 95% of the group experienced a paid internship compatible with their career interests and skills; one year after high school, 88% of exited youth were employed, were attending postsecondary school or were enrolled in the military.  

Hundreds of students made new friends, learned tolerance and built academic skills thanks to our Interdistrict Grant programs. • Forensic Detectives: Mysteries and Solutions: Science standards came alive when 175 students from 3 participating districts engaged in hands-on inquiry, with a focus on observation, fingerprinting, handwriting analysis and DNA, while exploring the history of this intensely complex and interesting science. Students also fine-tuned their math skills, while charting data together in Interdistrict teams. • Legacy Explorations: 250 6th-graders from 6 participating districts explored the history of cultural and diversity issues in America, including human and civil rights, learning about the heroes and champions of change and equality. Guest speakers included Rabbi Philip Lazowski, a Holocaust survivor, and Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese boat refugee. • Energy for the Future: Enabled 175 middle-school youth from 5 participating districts to explore new technologies, myths and policies around energy, while collaborating in teams to design and build solar cars and wind turbines with maximum efficiency. Students learned about engineering, energy consumption and worldwide energy solutions, while growing new friendships and an appreciation for diverse peers. Students worked in collaborative teams to build solar cars to race against one another during the annual EASTCONN Race to the Sun contest.

The Summer Youth Employment & Training program gave invaluable, on-the-job experience to 417 low-income youth. Summer Youth Employment & Training A total of 417 young people participated in the 2015 Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, a 5-week summer work experience for eligible youth, ages 14-21. Area employers were committed to providing a learning-enriched job experience, and participating youth received an evaluation during their job experience. Businesses within the Willimantic, Danielson, Norwich and New London labor markets provided a variety of project opportunities for our dozens of Summer Youth Employment and Training applicants. Program outcomes included: 96% of youth achieved an attendance rate of 85% or better; 95% of in-school youth returned to high school, obtained employment or enrolled in post-secondary school

• Farming the Land and Sea: More than 250 second- and third-grade students from 5 participating districts formed teams to learn about Connecticut’s agriculture and aquaculture. Students interacted with scientists, farmers, fisherman and nutritionists, exploring the life cycles of plants, aquaculture and balanced nutrition. They also visited and conversed with organic farmers, beekeepers, bovine experts at UCONN and a Connecticut commercial fisherman.

“Having a purpose to write and then to have feedback from others their age is invaluable. Their writing ability has grown tremendously.” – Windham teacher whose students are participating in Farming the Land and Sea, an Interdistrict Grant “I have an amazing ability to push through my frustrations to complete work that needs to get done.” “I learned I’m capable of doing anything when I get my mind on it.” – Feedback from young adults, who participated in the 2015 Summer Youth Employment & Training Program 54


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES after completion of the program; 96% showed an increased understanding of workplace responsibilities based on workreadiness instruction

Capitol Theater Arts Academy (CTAA) There were 281 enrollments in 63 classes with more children taking multiple classes. This vacation and after-school community arts outreach program is co-located at the Capitol Theater with ACT, EASTCONN’s regional magnet high school in downtown Willimantic. As a result, ACT students have an opportunity to work in paid and voluntary positions at CTAA. The Summer Musical Theater Program provided 23 children with a chance to perform in Mary Poppins for more than 600 audience members. They also performed in Willimantic’s Third Thursday street festival and at the Windham Senior Center. Summer students participated in an educational component designed to help bridge the summertime academic learning gap.

of the

Youth in our summer program either

Returned to high school Got a job, or Enrolled in college

Security Services and Support

Community Arts Connection (CAC) After-School Program Seventy-five (75) elementary and middle-school-age youth and their families participated in this CSDE-funded after-school program housed at Windham Heights. The CAC program reinforced individual student achievement aligned with school curriculum by providing tutoring and homework assistance, while deepening parental engagement through family activities and field trips. Children completed their homework for the first 1½ hours of the program and spent the remaining time on content-specific, project-based enrichment activities and physical fitness games. UCONN and Eastern Connecticut State University students acted as mentors and tutors for the children. The program coordinator met regularly with classroom teachers to exchange information and continually assess each child’s academic needs. Family members participated in program planning and on “Family Thursdays” were invited to potluck dinners, literacy activities and/or prefield experience learning. Free tickets to UCONN cultural events were provided to families along with free transportation. Of note: 100% of participating children qualified for free-andreduced afterschool snacks; participants had a 92% attendance rate; 75% of students had attended the program the year before, and returned for 2015-2016; family participation increased by 39%, enabling us to offer a free, on-site English-as-a-SecondLanguage class to promote multi-generational learning through EASTCONN’s Adult Education program.

Supers & Troopers brings law enforcement and school officials together to build trust as they share topics of mutual concern. Truancy & Residency Services Provided truancy, residency and investigative services in 11 districts and supervised 2 full-time, district-based truancy professionals. Investigated more than 250 cases, resulting in considerable district savings and improved attendance. Health & Safety Support Provided a variety of health and safety trainings, demonstrations and consultations, including: • Training: Our School Safety Coordinator, a certified instructor through the Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abused Children, trained 200+ educators on proper protocols and procedures when responding to abuse disclosures. He presented at the 2016 National School Safety Conference held in Orlando, on strategies for creating effective systems that address individual needs, school climate, learning and

“[Your Investigations team] has completed numerous residency checks for us. They have all been very professional and courteous to our families in Griswold. When I contact them for a residency check, they are very quick to respond to our requests. The process is made very easy with the secure online service through EASTCONN’s web site, where we complete our referral form and they complete the residency check. It is quick, easy and painless. I would definitely recommend EASTCONN if you are considering this service. They do a wonderful job!” – Robin Drobiak, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Griswold Public Schools 55


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES the development of students’ self-determination and ownership. Also trained and supervised 10 security guards at 5 locations; each guard is now a certified Connecticut Security Officer (Connecticut Guard Card) with training in criminal law, medical protocols, de-escalation procedures and crisis response.

of the financial impact, in an era of shrinking community resources.

– ARC Training: Trained a total of 60+ employees in American Red Cross CPR/First-Aid along with the nursing instructor. Provided instruction to an Adult Education Family Literacy and English-as-a-Second-Language class involved in a Windham/EASTCONN Two-Generational (2Gen) Program; all received their Red Cross certification. – Supers & Troopers: Held 2 sessions this year attended by 50 Connecticut State Troopers and other law enforcement officers, as well as 50 school administrators; a 3rd session is planned for late spring. The subjects covered were searchQMC’s new STEM programming gives students easy access to and-seizure laws governing schools and law enforcement; enriched science curricula and state-of-the-art laboratories. and helping administrators understand cyber-crime, and the latest online apps and technologies that may endanger their • QMC MSAP Grant: QMC must seek sustainable funding students’ well being. for the enriched STEM programming that the MSAP grant • Consultation: Conducted numerous lockdown drills for more has provided; the grant ends in September 2016. than 400 students and 75 staff members at EASTCONN sites. Emergency response plans, with quick-reference books, were • STEM Capacity-Building: As the demand for use of the distributed and put online for all staff to access. Quick-guides QMC Mobile STEM Lab increases at QMC and throughout and all-hazard approach placards are now located in all the region, we will need to enhance our capacity for teaching EASTCONN sites, rooms and offices. Joined the Willimantic in STEM content areas, as well as find ways to sustain the police for an all-day drill at our Capitol Theater facility to facreation of affordable learning opportunities for the region’s miliarize officers with this building and our school protocols faculty and students. in the event of a crisis. Consulted with Head Start and Adult • ACT Community Outreach & Recruitment: ACT must Education on security needs and consulted on best practices continue to find ways to gain more parent and community for on-site security staff. Worked closely with school nursing involvement, especially for student performances, and staff to develop and implement to attract more students who Automatic External Defibrillators are interested in accessing the What difference did it make? (AED) protocols and medical supmagnet’s curricular offerings. To ply bags. “... to have feedback from others this end, ACT has pursued multiple

2015-2016 Challenges

their age is invaluable. Their writing ability has grown tremendously.”

advertising options and student recruiting strategies this year, including the launch of a TV and Web commercial campaign. We seek new opportunities for our students to perform in the community, and to bring community members in as guest artists and speakers. Our student body continues to increase in diversity in many ways, requiring us to expand our instructional practices to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners.

Magnet School Challenges • Enrollment: Connecticut’s budget deficit poses a significant challenge to student enrollment and, therefore, to the longterm viability of EASTCONN’s magnet schools. This is a result of the increased financial burden of rising tuition costs for our region’s sending districts, given that there has been no increase in the state’s magnet school funding for the fifth consecutive year.

Autism Program & Services The population of our regional, center-based autism program more than doubled in the last 18 months, requiring us to hire a new teacher and plan for additional classroom space going for-

• Magnet School Transportation: Transportation of students to magnet schools in our region continued to be under-funded by the state. As a result, our sending districts bear the brunt

“The rounds process at ACT has allowed us to have open and honest conversations about best teaching practices. The idea that educational improvement can be seeded from within the school, from colleagues and peers, is exciting.” – Sarah Mallory, Principal, Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) 56


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES ward. Finding highly qualified staff with the necessary expertise presents a significant barrier to accepting new students.

programs has fallen off. We are exploring the development of more Web-based training and Open House opportunities as a way of increasing access and participation, while at the same time reducing costs. After-School, Vacation and Enrichment Programs In this difficult budget year, we are very concerned about the level of funding for our Interdistrict Grants and afterschool programs. Students in northeastern Connecticut are just as racially isolated, and economically and educationally disadvantaged as students in large urban areas. In addition, because they are so geographically isolated, our region’s students have fewer cultural and learning-enrichment opportunities outside of these Interdistrict, state-funded programs. Truancy & Residency Services It is challenging to create an emergency response plan that meets Connecticut standards and is user-friendly, so our staff can understand it and implement its complex response strategies when needed.

With support, Autism Program students learn day-to-day tasks, through the program’s wrap-around model, which follows best practice, grounded in applied behavioral analysis. Clinical Day Treatment (CDT) Programs Given our students’ need for mental health and psychiatric services, providing adequate clinical programming is essential, and finding high-quality staff has been challenging. We continue to seek additional community-based mental health services to supplement our in-house clinical supports. Unfortunately, they, too, are inadequate to meet the demands for mental health support in northeastern Connecticut.

Plans & Implications for 2016-2017

Psychological & Behavioral Consultation Services (PBCS) Districts often obtain PBCS supports in response to problems (e.g. when a student is on the verge of outplacement; when office referrals are very high; when a specialized program is in crisis). However, our services would be most effective and efficient, and result in the greatest outcomes, if districts were able to receive more support for prevention and staff capacity-building.

Students who elect to attend ACT arts magnet high school can focus on their arts passions as they select from disciplines like theater/drama, dance, audio/video studies and creative writing.

Regional Transition Services/Woodstock Academy Collaborative As we expand our work-based learning sites in neighboring communities, we increase our need for student transportation to work sites and other community-based locations.

Magnet Schools: • NEASC: NEASC Visiting Committees will be coming to QMC and ACT in the spring of 2017. Preparation for the visit is already underway and will continue into the fall.

Assistive Technology (AT) As Connecticut school districts continue to face economic hardship, district participation in our professional learning

• QMC: Will work this summer and into the fall on revising curriculum and standards to align with standards-based grade

“The Voluntown Public School System readily approves the annual contract for the Truancy & Residency services provided by [your Coordinator of Security and Investigations]. We continue to enjoy our working relationship with him! [He] is always available to lend advice or support, as needed. His advice and knowledge of Federal and State law is greatly appreciated. He gets back to us in a timely manner. His recommendations are extremely accurate and cost effective!” – Alycia Trakas, Principal, Voluntown Public Schools 57


K-12 STUDENT SERVICES reform. Teachers and administrators are working closely with the Information Technology department to develop systems to effectively report this type of assessment information to students and parents. ACT will continue to engage faculty members in teacher-led instructional rounds, and teachers will train new teacher groups both at ACT and QMC for next year’s instructional rounds processes. Both schools will continue to explore enhanced performance assessments and grading reform.

that support prevention and systemic supports for all students, including those with special needs. We plan to continue expanding our practice of embedded, ongoing coaching and consultation to build and sustain programs for students within their home districts, consistent with our commitment to least restrictive environments and inclusive education for all students

Clinical Day Treatment (CDT) Programs As regional demand for clinical day treatment support continues to grow in the region, we will continue to assess how to best structure, staff and locate our programming. We are exploring expansion to a new facility in 2016-2017 that will allow us to open an additional 27 slots in collaboration with one of our member districts.

Health and Safety Support The EASTCONN Health and Safety Support Committee has planned for the installation of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in all EASTCONN facilities, in addition to schools and program sites that are already equipped. With the assistance of the Nursing Unit, the committee has developed medical aid kits that will be incorporated into all AED boxes. They will continue to train additional staff in Red Cross AED /CPR procedures and are developing a “Slips and Falls” campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of workplace attire and footwear for personal safety to reduce injury.

Regional Transition Services/Woodstock Academy Cooperative As a result of a new initiative, Level Up, which is part of the • ACT: Plans are underway to expand the use of standardsWorkforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we will implement based grading after successfully piloting a standards-baseda new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services partnership in our graded unit on Latin America, co-taught by social studies schools. This initiative focuses on Pre-Employment Transition and Spanish teachers in spring 2016. This allowed students Services for students, ages 16-21, with disabilities, and is to focus on the revision process and gain important, specific focused on improving post-school feedback to improve the quality of outcomes in the areas of competitive their work. ACT will continue to employment, post-secondary How well did we do it? expand teacher-led, school-based education and independent living instructional rounds, which are an “[EASTCONN has] consistently skills. Services include, but are not essential element of instructional provided professional, knowledgelimited to: peer mentoring services, improvement that has helped able services to best meet the needs instruction in self-advocacy and pinpoint areas of strength and workplace readiness training. of all of our students. Their caring, growth for our staff. Additional modifications to unified knowledgeable staff have truly activities in physical education, been a benefit to [us].” Autism Program & Services music and food preparation will We will enhance support for the allow for expanded participation of special educational needs of students students with typical peers. We will with autism by continuing to take full advantage of the expercreate new opportunities for students to earn stipends, balance tise of EASTCONN’s Psychological and Behavioral Consultafinancial accounts, and plan and prepare meals. tion Services (PBCS). Through expanded collaboration, we will produce a continuum of services, expand shared expertise and After-School, Vacation and Enrichment strengthen the bridge between districts and EASTCONN staff. Programming We will continue to recruit highly qualified staff so we can efGiven projected cuts in state funding, we will continue to seek fectively respond to district demand for center-based programnew sources of funding for enrichment programs for children in ming options for students. northeastern Connecticut.

Psychological & Behavioral Consultation Services (PBCS) PBCS will continue to take advantage of our crisis intervention work in districts to simultaneously build capacity and skills

“[Your Related Services Therapist] has worked with my son, L., for the past five years through the RHAM School district. From their first early interactions, [she] was able to establish a caring and trusting relationship with L. … She makes therapy fun, and makes it feel ‘not so much like work.’ She treats him with respect and has a high level of integrity. [She] has been a strong advocate for L., and has personally worked hard to obtain needed equipment in order for him to be successful … I am proud and pleased to have such a committed and competent physical therapist, like [her], working with my son. She is highly dedicated to her profession, and to the students she works with. She is a huge and talented asset to L.’s health and success!” – Margaret L., parent of a student benefiting from Related Services Group interventions 58


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES Overview Our Organizational Support services are delivered by a broad range of agency departments that not only support the day-today operations of EASTCONN and our staff, but also supply assistance wherever needed to member districts, as well as to other external customers across the region on a fee-for-service basis. From organizing conferences and workshops, securing discounted products for schools, running lunch programs and catering services, maintaining our facilities, managing budgets and payroll, writing grants, providing communications and marketing support, as well as meeting employment and HR needs, we respond to a wide variety of demands from inside the agency, across partner districts and on behalf of governmental, nonprofit and other select organizations.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

CSDE Event Management Managed 9 CSDE-sponsored professional development events serving more than 650 participants, including contracts with vendors, presenters and facilitators, event logistics and budget management. Notable CSDE events included Family Services through Adult Education, Adolescent Health through SchoolBased HIV/STD Prevention, Private School Equitable Services through the Title IIA Grant, as well several events for the Bureau of Health/Nutrition.

In addition to managing agency administrative functions, each of our internal administrative support departments provided varying levels of services to our member districts and others, as highlighted below. Conference Services EASTCONN’s Conference Services provided logistical support to internal staff, as well as external customers, including the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and others. That involved planning and managing 1,561 events, workshops and meetings throughout the year. Services included registration and marketing services, catering, audio/visual support and reporting.

ATTENDANCE AT EASTCONN CONFERENCE EVENTS

Member Districts Usage Member districts are always encouraged to utilize our facilities and conference services and last year, 6 used our facilities and services to host professional development sessions for 93 teachers. Expanding Customers Continued increasing fee-based use of our facilities and conference services by external groups as a strategy for maximizing resources, reducing operating costs and improving our community relations. Participating clients include CSDE, the state Department of Labor, state Alternate Assessment, The Connecticut Energize Initiative, Renaissance Learning,

Nearly 90 NE CT employers attended the Dept. of Labor’s Step Up Conference at EASTCONN to discuss jobs in the region.

“I want to extend a big THANK YOU to the EASTCONN team – especially [the Conference Services staff] -- for the work they did prior to and during the professional development program that we presented in February. Their support contributed to making the day a productive and pleasurable experience for the participants and for us. The room was set up and everything was ready to go when we arrived – materials, refreshments and technology. They addressed our ad hoc needs for some additions to our handouts and accessing video clips in our PowerPoint presentation. Everyone was congenial and responsive throughout the day. They exemplified ‘service with a smile’!” – Barbara Beaudin, Educational Consultant 59


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES and others. Several high-profile events brought participants from around the state to EASTCONN. A few noteworthy examples included the Tolland County Trauma Team, with 80+ participants from multiple emergency medicine disciplines; and the Step Up Employer Conference with 100+ employers in attendance, featuring Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman as a guest speaker.

for DPH-mandated, 3-year Asbestos Plan updates and inspections; provided 1 member district with an EPA-required, pre-demolition National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) inspection.

Cooperative Purchasing Our regional purchasing collaborative is a free service offered to all member districts. Total cooperative member purchases exceeded $3 million last year. Members realized an estimated average savings of 10-15%, or between $364,000 and $546,000 – savings that could be redirected to support other local/ educational needs. Cooperative purchasing vendors also paid a total of more than $16,000 in rebates to our members. Use of the cooperative’s kitchen equipment vendor increased this year, with members realizing savings that were 9% lower than state bid pricing. Facilities Forums help facilities staff connect, share job-specific information and strategies, and learn about new state mandates.

Cooperative Purchasing Members saved

• Radon Management: Provided radon management services to a total of 6 districts. Saved significant expense for 1 member district by researching and locating their previous Radon Assessment Report at the Department of Public Health, thereby allowing them to reassess only 10% (or 31) of their previously assessed 281 rooms, as opposed to starting over with a district-wide assessment.

10-15%, or

$364,000-$546,000

• Compliance and Technical Support: Provided technical support services for 2 member school districts during their Connecticut DPH compliance audits.

Facilities & Maintenance Hazardous Materials Management Services Ensured that our districts complied with Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulations and facilitated the resolution of any compliance issues that emerged.

Facilities/Maintenance Training and Consultation • Regional Facilities/Maintenance Forums: Organized a free regional forum for superintendents, facilities directors, business managers and district support staff to hear from Department of Public Health experts focused on best practices and regulations regarding asbestos, radon and other school-based hazardous materials management. As a result, participants could assess their level of compliance and initiate inspections as needed.

• Asbestos Management: Provided 8 districts with 3-year asbestos management re-inspections and provided 6-month Asbestos Reassessment Designated-Person services to an additional 4 member districts and 1 RESC that lack certified, designated technicians on staff; assisted 8 districts scheduled

“I have been a member of the EASTCONN Coop[erative] for 3 years now, without their guidance and support, I would have struggled as a new food service director. Operating a larger size district makes it imperative for the Coop to exist. [Your coordinator] is always very helpful and quick to address issues and to solicit member responses on request. Thank you, EASTCONN!” – Eric Volle, Director of Food Services, Windham Public Schools “As a new principal of a small school, [your facilities director] has proven to be a great resource. His inspections of my building have provided me with critical information, allowing me to learn about the aspects that require my additional attention and providing critical history. He is willing to answer questions and highlight areas where I can be proactive to maintain optimal air quality in my building. He is accessible when questions arise and approaches questions without judgment with the intention to support and educate. He is timely and efficient with his inspections and offered immediate support when we were audited by the State. I look forward to my continued collaboration with [him] and would recommend his services without hesitation.” – Heather Tamsin, Principal, Eastford Elementary School, Eastford Public Schools 60


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES • Training: Provided Asbestos Awareness workshops to facilities and maintenance personnel from 3 of our member districts.

• School Meals: Prepared, delivered and served nutritious reimbursable meals to more than 250 EASTCONN students in 6 different locations on a daily basis, which met or exceeded federal requirements for a qualified-healthy meal.

• Facilities Management Consulting Services: Provided a range of back office facilities support to 1 member district, including on-site inspections, restructuring recommendations to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and personnel interviewing support.

Finance Processed more than 34,000 financial transactions in the management of our agency’s $75.4 million budget. Provided fiscal management for 98 grants and contracts, totaling approximately $20.1 million, most of which was competitively awarded from a variety of state, federal and private sources. These funds provide programs and services that would otherwise not be available in our region, at little or no cost to our member districts.

Student Meals

Prepared & Delivered to Different Sites Daily

• “Food For Thought” Café Management: Located on the Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) campus, the café is open 5 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering a full breakfast and lunch menu for EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College students, as well as for college students, faculty and staff. • After-School Snack Program: In collaboration with the Windham Heights Community Arts Connection after-school program, provided 65 students with a nutritious, reimbursable snack.

Back Office Financial Support Provided fiscal management services to 3 member districts, including budget management, accounts payable and payroll, which resulted in enhanced services, increased effectiveness and cost-savings over their previous in-house provision of comparable services. Assumed total financial management during an unanticipated staff transition period at 1 of these districts. Enhanced Fiscal Security As part of our ongoing enhancement of EASTCONN’s fiscal security, instituted a Positive Pay System in conjunction with our bank in order to better protect our bank accounts from fraudulent activity. Food Services Student Food Services • Member District Free & Reduced Lunch Services: In an initiative that tested the capacity of Food Services to provide free and reduced-cost student meals in small districts, we piloted a lunch program in Scotland Public Schools that provided free and reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches to 60+ children daily. As a result of the pilot, students and staff report that they have been enjoying the new menu and improved quality of the meal offerings, as well as the efficient cafeteria operations.

Food Services catered EASTCONN’s K-12 Convocation, providing delicious pick-up-and-go options for 150 staff. Catering Services • Catering: Accommodated groups of varying sizes with early morning breakfasts, working lunches, client receptions, annual meetings, holiday parties and more. Customers included

“What’s one of the worst things that can happen to a new Superintendent? Losing your only finance person a month into the start of the school year! Thank goodness EASTCONN came to the rescue of the Andover School District by providing us the expertise to keep things going. Within a couple weeks of the finance person’s leaving, I had both Payroll and Accounts Payable experts here to help us meet payroll and pay essential bills. They continued to provide necessary support until a new person came on board. Without the quick response from EASTCONN and the talented and experienced people they sent over, Andover would have had many unhappy employees and vendors! Thanks to [EASTCONN] for such a rapid and effective response to an urgent need.” – Sally Doyen, Ed.D., Superintendent, Andover Public Schools 61


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES EASTCONN, Quinebaug Valley Community College and surrounding communities. Our catering services enhanced community relations, while providing a source of revenue for our Food Services Department.

Marketing & Communications Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Graphic Design Project Provided graphic design services to OEC with the creation of 5 new, free-standing booklets for both families and teachers that expand the reach and effectiveness of the OEC’s over-arching, early-childhood guide, Using the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS).

Human Resources (HR) Recruitment & Hiring Provided multiple layers of recruitment and hiring support to both internal and external customers. • Internal: Processed 5,000+ job applications in response to more than 250 job postings/ads; conducted more than 500 employment interviews; and responded to more than 4,300 employment-related telephone inquiries. These numbers reflected strong preK-12 and Adult Basic Education program growth. The agency’s strong retention rate in key service positions ensured continuity and delivery of high-quality programs and services. Collaborated with IT and Finance in the upgrade of our MUNIS software and implementation of new Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance requirements. • Regional Recruitment: Provided free job advertisement and applicant referrals through EASTCONN’s Applitrack system on a pilot basis to assess whether there is sufficient demand to develop a fee-based regional service.

EASTCONN publications earned numerous CABE Communications awards for excellence in connecting with our stakeholders. Small District Communications Support In response to requests from administrators who participate in EASTCONN’s Small District Work Group, we created free, easy-to-use publication templates so that staff in our smaller, staff-strapped districts can more easily create and distribute school-related information that has a consistent, professional look.

• Shared Services: Provided 45 alternative staffing solutions to our member districts, resulting in fast and flexible staffing arrangements. • Fingerprinting Services: 1,300 job seekers used our fingerprinting services, including individuals applying to be substitute teachers in area districts and candidates in university-based teacher preparation programs. Services were delivered on-site to future teacher candidates at UCONN in Storrs. Began implementing electronic fingerprinting as a means for improving customer service and expanding our customer base, resulting in an estimated 5% increase in revenue.

Agency Marketing & Communications Continued to transition our agency collateral materials from print to digital media in an effort to reduce costs, producing an estimated $4,000 savings in postage last year, while improving the speed and efficiency with which our key stakeholders receive essential information.

Back Office HR Consulting Services Provided specialized HR consulting services to 2 districts in the areas of employee relations, HR audits, collaborative advertising, training and related technical assistance.

• Growing Online Audience: Our combined agency list of 11,464 e-mail subscribers, which grew by 23% this year, was used to generate 65 e-blast communications, an increase of 200% over last year; those e-blasts detailed upcoming agency

“Regional school district 8 does not have an HR Department. A situation arose within the district that required the services of an experienced HR person that could deal with a difficult situation. After outlining the issue to [EASTCONN’s HR Director], you were able to meet with the individual and address the matter in a way that satisfied the needs of the individual and the school district. Because of [your] work, the issues that the district brought forward were addressed in a manner that has had a positive and lasting impact on all concerned.” – Robert J. Siminski, Ed. D., Superintendent, Region 8 “I have already distributed the templates so that we can start to use them right away! We know we need to improve our communication to parents and newcomers to Andover, but have struggled to find the time and resources to do so; the templates will be used to create informational brochures and enhance our website. EASTCONN has provided another extremely helpful tool to assist small districts.” – Sally Doyen, Andover Superintendent 62


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES conferences, workshops and events, and shared division publications, program-specific newsletters and promotional information, and other events on behalf of divisions and departments across the agency. • Social Media: Our online presence continued to grow, as evidenced by a 30% increase in our Facebook followers and their level of engagement over last year.

Regional Grant Development Council Twelve (12) member districts and community-based partners participated in 1 or more of the 4 meetings we provided at no cost; meetings were designed to increase the quality and success of participants’ grant submissions, as they sought to obtain new funding from a variety of private and public sources. As a result, at least 4 new grants were submitted.

• Traditional Media: Continued our use of traditional media as a marketing and communication tool, issuing 55 press releases, generating an estimated $50,000 in free publicity, in addition to 4 quarterly newsletters, with each issue reaching 2,500 key stakeholders; an additional 3,033 individuals, including school administrators, state and federal legislators, teachers and local political leaders, among others, received digital versions of every issue of the newsletter.

Comprehensive Community Assessment Collaborated with our Early Childhood Initiatives staff in conducting a comprehensive community assessment; the assessment was used to identify socioeconomic and demographic trends that impact children and families in our service communities, as required by our Head Start/Early Head Start renewal application to the U.S. Department of Children and Families. Student-Centered Learning Initiative Continued to partner with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Great Schools Partnership and the Nellie Mae Foundation to promote Student-Centered Learning strategies. This past year, we collaborated on the identification of districts in and beyond our region that are best positioned to move forward in learning more about such effective strategies as student voice. We will be continuing our efforts to introduce community conversations in selected communities with our partner organizations.

Planning & Development Professional Learning for Teachers of English Language Learners (ELL) Collaborated with Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) on an application to the U. S. Department of Education for funding to provide just-in-time professional learning and support to teachers in our rural districts, as students of various native languages enroll in our region’s schools. If funded, this new collaboration would strengthen our services to ELL students (also referred to as English Learners, or EL) and their teachers, administrators and families, by providing professional learning and support when it is most needed. Additionally, this initiative would provide tuition support for bilingual paraprofessionals in our schools and instructional aides in our child development network who wish to become certified educators, thus helping to build a more linguistically diverse workforce in the region.

2015-2016 Challenges With rising costs and declining resources, many of our member districts are looking for ways to channel more local funding into programming that directly benefits their students. Regional and collaborative approaches to the delivery of administrative functions is an increasingly useful strategy for effecting cost-savings, with comparable or higher levels of quality. EASTCONN is more often providing central office support to member districts, using our in-house administrative team. Our ongoing, agency-wide challenge is to continue providing high-quality, in-house services, while also responding to growing district and other external customer demands. Conference Services We are actively seeking to increase revenues and reduce operating costs, to ensure that we continue to offer high-quality, cost-effective services that will appeal to a broad customer base.

Grant Council members got positive, effective support as they worked to improve their grant-writing skills and outcomes. “This was my first meeting with the Grant Development Council and it was so useful to hear about the process and be able to speak informally and ask questions. It was particularly helpful to hear from someone who runs a non-profit group and get an inside look at what these types of groups and organizations look for when making funding decisions. I’m sure my continued participation will be truly rewarding. Thank you.” – Grant Development Council participant 63


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES Cooperative Purchasing In direct response to group concerns, members reconfigured the Cooperative’s milk-vendor bidding guidelines, resulting in the current vendor’s no longer meeting new, more stringent requirements. Consequently, milk purchases through the Cooperative have declined. We are redoubling our efforts to increase the number of participating milk-vendors, broaden our product selection and ensure that vendors’ geographic locations result in the best possible results for members. Facilities This year, a confluence of facilities-related DPH-mandated deadlines for districts occurred within a short period of time, challenging us to meet all of their requests for assistance. Districts’ 3-year Asbestos Re-Inspection and Radon ReInspection deadlines overlapped and were immediately followed by their 6-month Asbestos Assessment deadlines. Nonetheless, we ensured that districts met the requirements and remained in compliance with their legal obligations.

Our Human Resources staff fingerprinted 1,300 job-seekers, helping them meet backgound check mandates, which are required for all of Connecticut’s school-based employees.

Fiscal • Fiscal Reporting: New reporting requirements, including mandated employer reports under the federal Affordable Care Act and new state requirements like phasing in the Universal Chart of Accounts, will require that new policies and procedures be instituted. • Security: Fraudulent activity and other security threats will require ongoing vigilance and security.

• Electronic Fingerprinting System: Connecticut State Police delays in administrative approvals have prevented fully operational implementation of the new electronic fingerprinting system. Once fully implemented, the new system will result in expedited results and fewer errors.

How well did we do it?

“Your [Conference Office staff] support contributed to making the day a productive & pleasurable experience for participants & us.”

Marketing & Communications Ensuring that timely and accurate information about how EASTCONN can be of assistance to key stakeholders as their needs are changing remains our greatest challenge; it requires the ongoing assessment of member needs and EASTCONN’s evolving capacity to meet those needs.

Food Services Limited resources present significant challenges for our region’s smaller school districts as they work to provide high-quality, nutritious food to their students, as required by law. In response, we are challenged to finding a more cost-effective way to help schools meet their mandates.

Planning & Development Current economic conditions continue to challenge our ability to obtain the funding we need to develop new programs, and improve existing ones. Federal, state and private foundation funders are all affected by today’s economic realities, with more organizations, agencies, service providers and school districts seeking to expand their access to increasingly scarce funding sources.

Human Resources • Staffing Shortage Areas: With the increase of English Language Learners in the region, we will continue to recruit highly qualified Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)-certified educators, as well as dual-language educators. Given historic shortages, however, this will continue to require creative approaches to recruitment.

“This year we embarked on a new lunch program with EASTCONN. Scotland Elementary School will no longer be responsible for the district’s food service program. [Your staff] assumed the responsibility for our school lunch program and the running of the school cafeteria in September 2015. As we approach Spring 2016, I would like to say this partnership has been very successful from my position as school Principal. Our cafeteria has never run smoother and more efficiently in my 3 year tenure. The students are enjoying the new menu items and improved quality and taste of both breakfast ad lunches.” – Cathy Pinsonneault, Scotland Elementary School Principal 64


ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

Plans & Implications for 2016-2017

out e-blasts, it is anticipated that the agency e-mail subscriber lists and the number of electronic communications will continue to increase.

Conference Office Services The Conference Office will continue to expand its external customer base through increased marketing and improved features, such as the expansion of menu items. Participant feedback will be used to identify key areas for process improvements. Our focus on customer service is designed to ensure repeat business, while also introducing Conference Services to new groups of potential customers every time we host an event; like the EASTCONN-hosted DOL Step Up Conference last fall that brought 100+ area employers to Hampton. Cooperative Purchasing We are expanding the role of our existing Cooperative Purchasing coordinator, as we intensify our efforts to effectively market the Cooperative, grow our membership, and increase the quality and number of products available to member towns and districts. Facilities We are exploring the use of a blended approach to future Facilities Forums. Many facilities directors are “one-man shops” and can’t leave their districts, regardless of the scheduling of our regional forums. By offering the option of joining us via streaming, real-time video, we hope to expand the audience beyond those are able to attend in person. Food Services Plans are underway to launch a regional support service for the delivery of the National School Lunch program targeted to our most resource-limited districts in order to expand their food services capacity at no additional cost. Human Resources Continue to increase the use of Applitrack, EASTCONN’s electronic job-applicant tracking system, as part of our initiative to support a regional LEA recruitment plan, including costshared advertising and the real-time delivery of electronic job applications for participating LEAs.

Planning & Development worked to establish EASTCONN as a go-to resource for teachers of English Language Learners.

Planning & Development • English Language Learners: Work to establish EASTCONN as the region’s resource for English Language Learner support, including providing professional learning for teachers and administrators, managing resources that can be distributed Received Our Digital and shared among low-incidence schools, and promoting Communications evidence-based strategies for family engagement, interpretation, assessment and other support, as warranted. Build local capacity among our low-incidence schools to improve the transitional experience of newly enrolling English Language Learners and their families.

Subscribers

• Multi-Generational Services: Develop a regional, multi-generational (also called Two-Generational or 2Gen) continuum of high-quality, integrated services and programs that increase the educational success, economic security, community connections, and health and well-being of eligible children, parents and families.

Marketing Continue expanding digital media as a way of reducing costs and increasing the ease with which information can be quickly and accurately disseminated to the right audiences. As the numbers and accuracy of our e-mail subscribers list grow, and as staff increasingly recognize the cost-savings and ease of sending

“I would ...like to thank you for hosting our Step Up Employer Conference at your beautiful EASTCONN facility. The feedback from those organizing the Conference as well as those attending was very positive. We very much appreciate the professionalism and hospitality that you expanded to us. Again, thank you! – Christopher Caruso, CT Department of Labor. 65


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES GOALS

OVERVIEW

Our vision is to integrate all learning opportunities for educators so that professional learning becomes embedded in district culture and is no longer limited to events that occur periodically each year. We create opportunities for administrators and teachers to participate in regional professional learning communities, and have expanded our capacity to provide coaching to districts that are engaged in data-driven, school-improvement efforts and educator evaluation. Working collaboratively with colleagues from other EASTCONN divisions, we have expanded our delivery options for professional learning, and extended opportunities for educators in our region.

1. To enhance teacher knowledge, skills and pedagogy through the delivery of quality programs, products and services that positively impact students as they work to become college and career ready. 2. To extend the knowledge and skills of school leaders through the delivery of quality programs, products and services that enable them to create a positive school climate and a culture for professional learning.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

administrator colleagues in the region. They tested ideas, challenged their inferences and interpretations, and processed new information with each other. As new ideas were analyzed, multiple sources of knowledge and expertise were expanded, and they tested the new concepts as part of the learning experience. Five (5) dimensions of communities of practice were addressed: Supportive and Shared Leadership; Collective Creativity; Shared Value and Vision; Supportive Conditions; Human Capital; and Shared Personal Practice

The Center for Educational Leadership

Grading Reform Theory of Action Cohort As an extension to the presentation from Rick Wormeli on “Standards-Based Grading,” the Center invited 5 administrators to participate in a professional learning network that focused on theory of action, cycle of inquiry and problem of practice in the area of grading. Educational leaders worked collaboratively over the course of 3 sessions to generate transformation plans that were grounded in a clear analysis of grading research. In the spirit of teaching and learning, leaders read and reflected upon case studies and research to think about how to engage with, learn from, and communicate with staff throughout the system, considering why and how the system needs to reform grading.

In a supportive, collegial environment, CEL Communities of Practice challenge school leaders to test themselves and their professional practice in order to improve their leadership skills. The EASTCONN Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) creates personally engaging, professional learning experiences that examine the nature of leadership in today’s world. This past year, the Center offered several research-based professional learning experiences that examined a range of leadership actions and instructional methods. The sessions were active and experiential with considerable time dedicated to evidence-based practices and personal reflection. The Center supported our region’s administrators as they continued to plan and implement many new education initiatives. Some highlights:

Directors of Curriculum Communities of Practice Eight (8) curriculum directors engaged in professional learning within a supportive, self-created community where they interacted, tested ideas, challenged their inferences and interpretations, and processed new information. As new ideas were analyzed, multiple sources of knowledge and expertise were expanded and they evaluated the new concepts as part of the learning experience. The overarching theory of action for this group was that by working with directors of curriculum to examine instructional practices, other district leaders, teachers and students would be positively impacted by innovative teaching methodologies being implemented in classrooms.

Assistant Principals’ Communities of Practice Assistant principals from 6 districts came together in a supportive, self-created learning community to improve their leadership skills and build constructive relationships with 66


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES PreK-8 Principal’s Consortium A consortium of 10 preK-8 principals in the EASTCONN region met 5 times during the school year to plan for the unique needs and challenges that leaders in preK-8 schools face. The Connecticut Standards for School Leaders provided a focal point for collegial conversations around performance expectations within small district leadership groups. Student Leader Cohort Facilitated our first Student Leadership Cohort in collaboration with EASTCONN magnet high schools, with 13 students participating. The Student Leadership Challenge was used as a foundation to discuss how leaders mobilize others to accomplish extraordinary things. Students examined the practices leaders use to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards. They debated and explored a climate in which people turn challenging opportunities into remarkable successes.

Educators from around Connecticut focused on standards-based grading issues raised by author Rick Wormeli. Regional Conference on Standards-Based Assessment with Rick Wormeli A total of 214 educators from 44 districts across Connecticut attended this November event, focused on standards-based assessment and grading. Rick Wormeli, a nationally recognized expert and author on the topic, explored what it means to be truly evidence-based in assessing and reporting students’ achievements regarding standards and learner outcomes. He addressed the biggest concerns in grading today: averaging, zeroes on the 100-point scale, do-overs, percentages, grading scales, late work, valedictorians, marking homework, grade book and report card design, formative versus summative assessments, and more.

Teacher-Leader Cohort Fourteen (14) teachers participated in this cohort focused on teacher-leader competencies that assisted them in identifying, reflecting and inspiring leaders at every stage of their leadership journey. Participants explored the 3 pathways of teacher leadership and how they might develop elements of each in their practice as professional leaders. They also experienced a unique, personalized set of learning opportunities using the 3 pathways to help address the needs of their students, colleagues and schools; and they defined and implemented individual leadership plans that put these competencies into action for the good of their students, communities, colleagues, schools and associations.

Instructional Rounds EASTCONN schools and 3 school districts are engaging in Instructional Rounds. By supporting district implementation of Instructional Rounds, schools and districts develop effective and powerful teaching and learning on a large scale. Overall, the Rounds process assists our districts in developing clarity about good instructional practice, and about the leadership and organizational practices needed to support this kind of instruction at scale. The discourse and reflective practice that is integral to this process leads to deeper and more intentional learning for students in these districts.

Common Core Leadership Cohort Seven (7) leaders from 5 districts engaged in this year-long administrator professional learning community focused on the instructional shifts in Common Core Standards for both English language arts (ELA) and math; participants received guidance in implementing and sustaining the expectations within the Connecticut Core Standards. District Administrative Support Facilitated administrator calibration sessions in 15 districts with more than 60 administrators and teachers, resulting in the alignment of their evaluation practices in the observation of rubrics being used in their districts.

Expanding Leadership Collaboration In June 2016, we will host a 2-day “Inspire 1.0: Summer

“Contacting the Center for Educational Leadership at EASTCONN is my first choice when I need to consult on any administrative, teaching, or learning issue.” – Steve Rioux, Assistant Superintendent, Killingly Public Schools “A builder of systematic change, [your CEL Director] brings depth of understanding of educational trends and best practices as it relates to the profession and the effects on student outcomes. She most recently assisted me with a shift from systems of evaluation to professional learning for my administrators through a cycle of inquiry model and from student-focused professional learning communities to community of practice meetings.” – Dr. Patricia Collins, Superintendent, Stafford Public Schools 67


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES Leadership Retreat” for principals, curriculum directors and central office administrators. Discussions will focus on the potential to lead with excellence, and to influence those nearby in ways that make a positive difference in their educational systems, communities and families. Participants will be guided in how to bring compassion and mindfulness to each leadership decision and encounter.

Development and Evaluation Committee (PDEC), developed handbooks for teachers, student educator support specialists and administrators that provided a system of support to all educators, aiding their efforts to implement an effective evaluation system.

Educator Evaluation Planning & Support Foundation Skills for Evaluators of Teachers A total of 29 educational leaders from 25 districts attended a revised, 5-day series, designed to provide them with an understanding of the educator evaluation and support system, the Common Core of Teaching (CCT) Rubric for Effective Teaching 2014 and the CCT Rubric for Effective Service Delivery 2015. All 4 components of the teacher evaluation guidelines were addressed and there was an opportunity for administrators to demonstrate proficiency in conducting observations. More than 98% of participants achieved the proficiency level.

CSDE consultants helped area administrators sharpen their understanding of CCT evaluation rubrics during summer sessions.

Student Educator Support Specialists (SESS) Eighteen (18) registrants from 14 districts discussed the develAdministrator Evaluation opment of high-quality goals and objectives to improve student/ Fifteen (15) administrators from 11 EASTCONN districts adult learning. Evaluators had participated in professional the opportunity to increase development, delivered in their understanding of the partnership with the ConnectiOf recently revised SESS Rubric cut Association of Schools for Effective Service Delivery (CAS) and the Connecticut gained 2015, and explore the applicaState Department of Education of this rubric in their evaltion (CSDE). The session was after attending uation of school-based clinical designed to build skills in staff, including school psycholconducting administrator evalour ogists, social workers, guiduations, with a concentration ance counselors, and speech on causal factors impacting training and language pathologists. student achievement.

Administrators

Proficiency

Educator Evaluation

High-Quality Feedback in the Evaluation Process In this series, 13 evaluators from 6 districts interacted with a range of tools, designed to improve their skills at engaging educators in collaborative conversations leading to professional growth. They learned strategies to improve teacher effectiveness, using high-quality written and verbal feedback, an essential part of the educator evaluation and support cycle.

Standards & Assessment Provided a variety of professional learning supports to educators in our region as part of the ongoing implementation of the Connecticut Core Standards (CCS) and implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Connecticut Core Standards – System of Professional Learning Delivered 255 days of on-site coaching to 22 districts. Funded through the CSDE System of Professional Learning, these sessions provided classroom teachers and coaches with instructional design strategies aligned to the standards, resulting in increased alignment of classroom instruction with state and national standards.

Educator Evaluation Provided customized educator evaluation support in 1 EASTCONN district. Collaborated on updating their Educator Evaluation Plan as part of a systematic effort to align local processes with Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED). In partnership with their Professional

“EASTCONN is an outstanding educational service delivery partner. Their leadership and staff are top rate professionals and provide exceptional customer service, conference facilitation and technical support. Conference facilitation is highly organized, flexible and responsive to customer needs.” -- Bonnie Edmondson, Connecticut State Department of Education 68


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Twenty-five (25) registrants from 18 districts learned about the Smarter Balanced Assessments, and how to effectively adapt instruction, resulting in greater student success.

Other Initiatives My Learning Plan® Our regional consortium enabled 12 districts to access discounted licenses for OASYS, an online observation and evaluation management system. The partnership with My Learning Plan, a leading provider of Web-based educator evaluation solutions, also supported the hosting of technical assistance sessions for 21 educators from the 12 districts.

Digital Library Sixty-three (63) teachers from 27 districts learned about the creation and use of formative assessment practices to improve daily instruction over the course of 3 sessions. This digital resource provides teachers with sample lessons aligned to the Connecticut Core Standards, and includes sample assessments and other resources. Student-Centered Learning Initiative Community Engagement for Public Understanding Collaborated with the Great Schools Partnership on the implementation of a grant funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to serve as Connecticut’s intermediary for a regional New England initiative to build public understanding, support and demand for student-centered approaches to learning. During this multi-year initiative, provided coordinated support to 3 Connecticut districts in the planning and facilitation of engagement activities with students, teachers, school board members, parents and community organizations. Additionally, EASTCONN worked with the Great Schools Partnership to identify and recommend 5 districts to participate in future cohorts.

Experienced teachers are great TEAM mentors. They work with new teachers, support their learning and help them succeed.

MeasureSuccess.Org Completed revisions to MeasureSuccess.Org, an online professional forum for the development and sharing of standards-based learning tasks with embedded performance assessments. The site was selected by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, (NCCAS), to pilot the newly developed Model Cornerstone Assessments that are part of the recently released National Core Arts Standards. The pilot project worked with teachers and leaders in higher education from across the country to implement the Model Cornerstone Assessments and develop a set of benchmarked student work samples.

Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) Program Provided 18 trainings and facilitated meetings for almost 400 participants, including beginning teachers,Mentors, Reviewers and District Facilitators in the northeastern Connecticut region. They participated in teacher orientation training, Mentor updates, reflection paper reviewer training, District Facilitator updates and/or facilitated conversations around Module 5. Mentors left with the skills needed to coach/support novice teachers as they develop new learning that improves their practice and outcomes for students. In addition to face-to-face trainings, TEAM provided online sessions for Mentor-update and Reviewer-update trainings.

How well did we do it?

Embedded In-District Support and Training Provided 127 days of on-site, embedded professional development and support in 24 districts to assist with the development and implementation of customized, local plans for a variety of educational reform initiatives, including performance task development, differentiated instruction, applications of new Social Studies and Science Standards, and more.

“The presenter was knowledgeable, engaging and realistic ... I hope our school can find a way to get more EASTCONN training.”

“[The presenter] was knowledgeable, engaging and realistic with the presentation. I hope our school can find a way to get more EASTCONN training.” – Teacher, Griswold Public Schools 69


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES ers from 4 districts were provided, highlighting the instructional opportunities for students in this portable science classroom. Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Supported districts in the adoption of NGSS through a range of services, including: • Webinars: 26 educators from across the region participated in Webinars, overviewing the key elements of NGSS. • Professional Development: 26 teachers and 10 administrators from 14 districts attended regional sessions that included an overview of the NGSS, a timeline for implementation and relevant resources for instruction.

Special-area teachers, who often lack job-alike colleagues in their own schools, enjoyed a regional PD workshop focused on best practices and improving cross-district collaboration.

• On-site PD: 34 teachers in 3 districts received in-district support that modeled instructional strategies and shifts in content with the new standards.

Regional Professional Learning for Special-Area Teachers Hosted 55+ special-area educators from 11 districts, including art, music, physical education, library media and instructional technology teachers, in the launch of a regional professional development model. They shared sessions on best practices, and participated in EdCamp, a professional learning model promoting increased cross-district collaboration. In small districts, special-area teachers are often the only staff performing that particular function across their district, making access to job-appropriate professional development a difficult and expensive proposition.

Statewide Professional Learning • Mindfulness Conference: Addressed 50 educators from around the state in a presentation titled “Mindful Approaches to Leadership” at Central Connecticut State University. • CSDE Coherence Conference: EASTCONN was a member of the conference planning team; 4 EASTCONN districts joined EASTCONN education specialists to facilitate breakout sessions at the conference, which hosted Area more than 280 educators.

SpecialEducators

• Professional Learning Inventory: from Provided orientation on the Standards Assessment-Related Services Assessment Inventory to 14 members of Created with 45 educators from 8 districts Member the statewide Development Team, which participating, this professional learning Districts included participants from the RESC Allicommunity examined formative assessance, Connecticut Association of Schools ments and the creation of performance tasks. (CAS) and CSDE. Additionally, provided Additionally, 45 educators from 19 districts regional consultation to 2 of our districts as memattended sessions on Standards-Based workshops on bers of the Professional Learning Academy. Report Cards, where they created templates The Academy allowed select districts to and action plans to migrate their schools and days get details on the Connecticut Standards districts to a standards-driven system. These for Professional Learning, hosted by the assessment-related services were created CSDE. as a follow-up for districts participating in the Rick Wormeli regional training that had expressed interest in implementation • Statewide Strategic Planning Project: Directors from assistance. Teaching & Learning and Technology Solutions collaborated

Attended

Common PD

with the RESC Alliance and other state partners to conduct focus group sessions to obtain input on current state initiatives. More than 70 people from our region participated, representing superintendents, administrators, teachers and parents. Additionally, we provided northeastern Connecticut data for the CSDE planning process through an online survey designed to gather input from our region. The survey was designed by a

STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) With the addition of a new Science Education specialist, we expanded our collaboration with EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) and its QMC Mobile STEM Lab. Onsite demonstrations and professional development for 17 teach-

“I feel much better about my understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); [it’s] a lot to take in but I will take advantage of more opportunities at EASTCONN.” – Teacher, Thompson Public Schools 70


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES collaborative team from the RESCs and aligned to the primary goals of the strategic planning process. • Feasibility Study for English Language Learner (ELL) Services: In response to state legislation, the RESC Alliance collaborated on a statewide study of services supporting ELL students and their teachers. We gathered data from 18 participating districts in our region and then analyzed the responses to determine trends in English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL)/ Bilingual education. This information was included in a statewide report to CSDE, including recommendations for expanding services in our region.

Our Science Council helps its K-12 teachers stay on top of new classroom strategies, NGSS standards and useful resources.

Regional Councils Continued hosting and facilitating 7 regional councils across a wide variety of content areas, all designed to provide member districts with opportunities to share resources, information and professional development. • Regional Staff Development Council (RSDC): Regularly hosted educators from as many as 29 districts at monthly meetings, where they received updates on state education initiatives from CSDE officials, and engaged in regional collaboration around professional learning opportunities, current challenges and shared resources. A recent highlight event was a tour for 18 regional administrators of Educators the EASTCONN QMC Mobile STEM Lab that included a hands-on soil-testing from activity.

• Science Council: Thirty-three (33) educators from 27 districts gained the latest information and resources for improving science curricula, assessment and instruction; participants also obtained the latest information about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A fall meeting featured Liz Buttner, CSDE Science Education Consultant, as she announced the formal adoption of the standards and shared resources to support district implementation. • Social Studies Council: A new Social Studies Council was launched this year, with 16 educators from 5 districts attendAttended ing. The Council provided a forum for our state social studies educational consultants to present the newest programs, resources Regional professional learning opportunities for Science and K-12 social studies teachers in our region. Council Through the lens of the new state Social Studies Standards, participants examined the role of inquiry in the social studies classroom and the relationship between historical thinking and close reading of primary sources.

Science Member

• Language Arts (LA) Council: TwenDistricts ty-four (24) educators from 21 districts participated in our LA Council, bringing literacy educators from across the region together 4 times during the year. In addition to hearing current updates from the CSDE, participants shared their knowledge and skills. For example, some of our LA Council members who attended the SRBI Symposium III in the fall, offered to share their learning at the next Council meeting with colleagues who were unable attend. This led to sharing strategies for cultivating executive function in the K-12 classroom, as well as practicing conversations for coaching their peers about literacy instruction. • Math Council: Twenty-three (23) educators from 15 districts participated regularly, receiving up-to-date information, resources and professional development around the implementation of mathematics instruction and assessment. A recent event featured experts from Texas Instruments, highlighted with an interactive session, exploring the advanced functions of graphing calculators. Participants also interacted via an online community where they exchanged ideas and resources.

–“Let’s Do History!” In collaboration with 1 of our districts, we secured a grant from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, allowing 40+ educators from 16 districts to get hands-on experience with instructional resources and to learn an interdisciplinary approach to teaching history. Costs for substitute teachers for each district and materials for participants were covered by the grant. • Arts Council : A new Arts Council was launched this year; 3 meetings were held with 36 participants from 15 districts. The CSDE’s Arts Consultant joined the Council to provide updates on key state initiatives affecting arts education, and members exchanged resources for instruction, assessment and the integration of art with other academic subjects.

“EASTCONN’s committees and councils serve our leaders and teachers well, apprising us of statewise initiatives, providing excellent speakers on timely issues, and establishing the opportunity for professional discourse and learning with other districts.” – Michele Mullaly, Director of Teaching and Learning, Coventry Public Schools 71


TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES collaboration with our larger districts and UCONN is being investigated. Professional Learning Create a series of professional development initiatives that puts inquiry at the center of classroom instruction, including planning, delivery and assessment of inquiry-based instruction. A summer “institute for inquiry” is under consideration, complimented by the series of offerings during 2016-2017. Differentiated Support for English Language Learners (ELL) We plan to develop our capacity to support English Language Learners by hiring staff with ELL/TESOL expertise to provide professional development and other support for teachers of ELL, as well as to provide direct instructional support to students where needed.

Our Special Area Teachers workshops got great feedback.

2015-2016 Challenges

Using Technology to Make Connections – Video-Enhanced Coaching Coaching for teachers and administrators is a key strategy to support educator growth. Distance, travel and time can be barriers to the frequent interaction needed for this model to be successful. We are building our capacity to use digital video tools in the classroom, coupled with a model of virtual coaching via a Web-based interactive platform. This process is enhanced through collaboration with an Ohio educational service center.

Supporting Special-Area & Essential Arts Teachers The success of our initial regional offering to these educators reinforced that they need more professional learning opportunities that are specifically designed for them. Our challenge now is to expand the range of offerings and increase participation significantly across the region. Professional Learning on Inquiry-Based Instruction Both the new Social Studies frameworks and the Next Generation Science Standards put significant emphasis on inquiry-based instruction. That same theme is reflected in the Connecticut Core Standards for language arts and mathematics. Collectively, these initiatives demonstrate the need for increasing professional learning opportunities around best practices in inquiry-based instruction. Through our conversations with Regional Staff Development Council (RSDC) members and other district educators, we identified the need to support coherence/ integration across core content areas in our member districts.

What difference did it make?

“I feel much better about my understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards.” Connecticut Standards for Professional Learning The CSDE is encouraging districts to incorporate the new learning standards into more professional learning activities and we are responding with increased support to our districts in this area. Currently, we are supporting 2 EASTCONN districts that are using the Standards Assessment Inventory (SAI) as a needs assessment tool around professional learning. We will work toward creating a district professional learning plan that effectively incorporates SAI. These early adopters will serve as models for further refining their professional learning coordination.

Differentiated Support for English Language Learners While many of our districts have a low incidence of students requiring Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) /Bilingual support, it is a need that is growing as the demographics of our region evolve. We lack sufficient capacity to effectively support our districts at this time, and need to explore strategies to enhance our ability to do so.

Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) CEL will continue to focus on educational reform that aligns the pathways for student, educator and system learning. The CEL will focus on 2 areas in the coming year: Adult learning and Change Theory. As a means of supporting district leadership in sustainable ways, the Center will offer theory of action cohorts and communities of practice, focused on adult learning and change theory to guide system reform. Hosting a national expert on developmental leadership is being researched.

Plans & Implications for 2016-2017 Special-Area and Essential Arts Educators We will offer more regional sessions in more satellite and/or in-district venues to increase accessibility. Plans for 2 specific regional events in 2016-2017 are already underway. Potential

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TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS GOALS

OVERVIEW

Technology Solutions provides member districts with a comprehensive array of technology services that support and enhance the effective implementation of technology in support of teaching and learning. Technology Solutions provides professional development for educators in effectively integrating the latest technology tools and applications into the classroom; provides infrastructure and network support; and develops and offers customized, online database solutions for efficient data collection and analysis.

1. To improve and enhance educator knowledge and skills in the effective use of technology through the delivery of quality programs, products and services that positively impact 21st-century teaching and learning. 2. To enhance educator knowledge and skill in the collection and analysis of data through the development and delivery of quality, Web-based applications that support decision-making for improved student learning.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

mentor-led induction program to all new teachers throughout Connecticut. This powerful, Web-based application supports all program administrative and instructional functions. This past year, the base framework for this application was replaced and all dependent services were updated to take advantage of the benefits provided by the new framework. This will ensure that the TEAM application remains compatible with newer Web browser versions and is accessible to mobile devices.

Data Systems Connecticut Educator Network (CTEN) Portal Maintained an online portal allowing administrators and other education community leaders to nominate deserving individuals to the CTEN program, a Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) initiative. Once confirmed, CTEN members gain program-wide recognition in their fields and have the opportunity to partner with CSDE consultants and other network members on statewide projects.

Teacher of the Year

In 2015, Technology Solutions was awarded a competitive contract to develop a statewide system for the submission and scoring of Teacher of the Year applications. In close partMentors, Reviewers & District nership with the Connecticut Teacher Teacher Education of the Year Council, we developed And Mentoring (TEAM) Facilitators with a system that provides self-registraInteractive Web Application tion, data entry, supporting-document Managed the EASTCONNuploads and scoring. The system sucdeveloped, Web-based accountability cessfully handled 97 applications and and data management system for 769 scoring sessions, saving hours of TEAM, currently being used by paper handling and eliminating the need for postage. Develop4,500 active beginning teachers, 10,000+ trained mentors, ment has begun for an online Paraeducator of the Year process. reviewers and district facilitators statewide. The online system

TEAM

interacted

www.ctteam.org

provided all participating educators (district facilitators, new teachers, mentors, reviewers, principals and superintendents) with a real-time communication and data system that enhanced communication between mentors and new teachers, and provided a real-time record of their progress on module completion, as required by CSDE certification regulations. EASTCONN created 2 online Professional Learning modules for all mentors and reviewers to assist in keeping their skills and knowledge current.

Paraeducator of the Year In conjunction with CSDE, developed a Web-based application that supports the Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year program, recognizing the efforts of paraprofessionals throughout the state. This application allows the Paraeducator of the Year from each district to submit his or her portfolio online for consideration for the Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year competition. After these submissions are complete, the application then supports all aspects of the selection process, improving scoring consistency and reducing program costs.

Teacher Education And Mentoring (TEAM) Online Application Update The TEAM program is a statewide effort to provide a common, 73


TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS Connecticut Pre-School Assessment Framework (CTPAF) Maintained and supported the system of reporting tools for the EASTCONNdeveloped CTPAF system, used in 700 preschool classrooms to support 14,000 students in communities across the state. The tools give users easy access to a variety of detailed, student-level and school-level reports. This year, the data-system staff completed a multiyear project to migrate this service to a vastly more powerful reporting infrastructure, dramatically decreasing the time necessary to generate reports.

Small District Collaborative Opportunities Database Developed an online database for our Small District Workgroup to communicate needs for shared staffing and transportation. When participants post requirements, all member districts are notified via e-mail, giving them the opportunity to reduce expenses by sharing resources. Participants can also post replies and communicate with other districts within the system. The system also includes an e-mail list that members can use to communicate with the entire group.

eCAT Testing

Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT) This test is a benchmark of educator preparedness for leadership. Since its inception in 2003, the test has been a traditional, pencil-and-paper test, an extremely limiting format in the digital age. In partnership with the CSDE and CAT Support Team, Technology Solutions was able to design, construct, test and release the eCAT, a proctored, online assessment that provides an easy-to-use user interface and extremely fault-tolerant server system. In its second year of implementation, 1,190 tests were completed via eCAT, with plans to increase the number to 2,500 tests for the 2016-17 cycle.

Kindergarten Inventory Continued to manage the CSDE annual online Kindergarten Inventory, in use in all Connecticut school districts. The Inventory provides the CSDE with critical data on the developmental progress of kindergarten students across the state. Early Childhood Literacy Rubric Data Collection Designed an online data collection system for the Early Childhood Literacy Rubric. This created a simpler method of data collection and provided more accurate and timely reporting on this data. This project, in partnership with EASTCONN’s division of Early Childhood Initiatives, collected more than 8,000 data points on 1,600+ students in 41 classrooms. MeasureSuccess.Org Completed revisions to MeasureSuccess.Org, an online professional forum for the development and sharing of standards-based learning tasks with embedded performance assessments. The site was selected by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, (NCCAS), to pilot the newly developed Model Cornerstone Assessments that are part of the newly released National Core Arts Standards. The pilot project worked with teachers and leaders in Higher Education from across the country to implement the Model Cornerstone Assessments and develop a set of benchmarked student work samples. The site is currently being reviewed by The Great Schools Partnership as an interactive repository of Mastery-Based Learning resources. Future plans will focus on embedded instructional videos and approved tasks.

Together with CSDE and CAT support teams, we designed and released eCAT, a proctored, online assessment tool for aspiring CT administrators; 1,190 eCAT tests were completed this year.

“The unique qualities of the [CAT] assessment’s connection to school improvement practices and instructional analysis and teacher support has led to the CAT being recognized in the Stanford School Leadership Study as one of the most innovative assessments in the country. The CAT, which continues to evolve and improve, would not have happened without the close collaboration between CSDE and EASTCONN. Primarily led by [EASTCONN], the CAT has become part of the fabric of Connecticut’s school leadership community. EASTCONN coordinates the registration, administration, scorer training and scoring of the CAT, and continually recruits and trains university faculty and district/school leaders who serve as scorers.” – Amanda Turner, Ph.D., Education Consultant, CSDE 74


TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS Data Collection & Research Services Office of Early Childhood/CAPSS Pre-K Program Survey In partnership with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), administrated a survey inventorying pre-K program licensing and certification criteria. The results of this effort will contribute to statewide discussions on program licensing criteria, improving alignment between criteria, simplifying the licensure process and increasing compliance. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2016 Connecticut School Health Profile Provided technical and logistical support for the administration of the 2016 School Health Profile, a statewide survey of health education policies and practices for grades 6-12. In support of CSDE’s effort to provide data to the CDC, surveys were distributed to principals and lead health educators. Data was collected on school health education requirements and content, physical education and physical activity, practices related to bullying and sexual harassment, school health policies related to tobacco-use prevention and nutrition, school-based health services, family engagement and community involvement, and school health coordination.

Technology Council members grew in number this year, citing trainings and topics that are relevant, engaging and useful. Educational Technology Support Technology Council This regional council, hosted and facilitated by our Technology Solutions Division, provided a forum for district technology coordinators, technology integration specialists and teachers interested in using technology to enhance teaching and learning. The Council combined access to the latest information on state and federal technology initiatives with the opportunity to share resources and information with educators across the region. Members received training and support related to robotics in assistive technology, smart-video capture technology and robotics in the classroom. Due to high demand, the EASTCONN Technology Council met monthly, twice as often as last year, and reached a new record of attendance with 45 educators from 13 districts. Most notably, the Tech Council drew visitors from outside our region, due to the engaging topics and lively discussion.

Lighthouse Survey In partnership with CSDE and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the online Lighthouse measures beliefs around student achievement potential in high-achieving and low-achieving districts, and also supports training for best-practices for boards of education. This survey was newly implemented in 4 Connecticut school districts for local Boards of Education, school administrators and educators in each district. The CSDE has retained EASTCONN to administer the survey system with the potential for national momentum.

English Language Learner (ELL) Mobile-App Support in the Region Developed the capacity to provide professional development and training directly to teachers in support of English Language Learners. These half-day workshops focus on matching curricular goals with iPad/iOS-based applications to support a variety of instructional contexts.

School Climate Surveys Modernized the technology supporting the administration and analysis of annual or biennial School Climate Surveys sent to students, parents, and staff to gather their perceptions on a variety of issues in the school environment. Nine (9) school districts worked with us to deliver surveys with the broadest possible distribution. Survey results included data on bullying, safety, quality of instruction, communication and many other topics. Administrators used the results to identify areas of strength, and those that need improvement.

Technology Audit Provided audit and review services to 3 partner districts this year, delivering assistance with strategic planning, mapping curricular requirements to technology, assessing infrastructure and reviewing staffing levels and capabilities.

“In addition, EASTCONN in partnership with the State Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helped facilitate the transition from a paper to Web based administration of a national school health survey to districts across the state. Connecticut was one of the few states to implement this approach and EASTCONN worked hand-in-hand to make this happen.” –Bonnie Edmondson, Education Consultant, CSDE 75


TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS Information Technology (IT) Support for Member Districts Provided on-site technology support to 5 member districts, an increase of 20% over last year. This service was especially beneficial to small districts that do not have an IT person on staff. Technology Solutions provided a diverse range of expertise that could not be found in a single, full-time IT person. In addition, we deliver added value for districts that may have an IT staff member, but occasionally require additional, specialized skills. Services are scalable to accommodate districts’ changing needs, allowing school administrators and staff to focus on curriculum and direct student needs.

Virtual High School (VHS) Coordinated the delivery of online VHS courses to 3 participating districts, providing their students with access to a wider variety of regular and AP courses online. Online course options allowed districts to increase the number of courses they can make available to students by providing access to more than 200 semester-long and full-year courses. Standardized Testing & Reporting (STAR) Assessments A total of 1,197 participants from 6 districts in our regional consortium accessed online early literacy, reading and mathematics assessments at a discounted price as a result of our collaboration with Renaissance Learning, an educational assessment and learning-analytics company. The STAR360 program is now providing a comprehensive K-12 assessment solution, allowing educators to screen and group students for targeted instruction, measure student growth, predict performance on Smarter Balanced Assessment exams, and monitor achievement in Connecticut Core Standards.

Schoology Learning Management System Schoology is a learning management system that provides a platform for interdistrict and cross-agency collaboration, as well as direct services to students and teachers. In-system registrations grew from 1,044 to 1,201, an increase of 15%; groups that were supported grew from 53 to 125, an increase of 135%.

Technology Support to EASTCONN Staff Brown Bag Sessions More than 60 agency staff attended 7 Brown Bag lunch-hour sessions on such topics as Phishing & Malware, LittleBits Instructor Training, AppleTV, Advanced Copier Functions & Tricks, Creating Computer Graphs, Introduction to 3-D Printing and Conference Room Technology. Student Information Systems Support & Integration Implemented new PowerSchool modules, improving efficiency in student class scheduling, tracking of student progress toward graduation requirements, and timelines for identifying students at risk of truancy. Extended the use of our PowerSchool system to centrally capture performance outcomes for all students in our K-12 programs (over 450 annually), including those in the Clinical Day Treatment and Regional Transition Services programs. Refined our data entry procedures and increased our focus on staff training, thereby improving our timeliness and accuracy for both state and internal reporting.

EASTCONN’s PowerSchool expertise has helped schools across the region manage their student data reports and analysis. PowerSchool Support & Consortium Provided on-site professional development and consultation for 6 Consortium districts and 1 regional district. Guided 2 Consortium districts in implementing standards-based student achievement reporting in PowerSchool. Improved student information skills of about 100 personnel in 30 PowerSchoolbased districts throughout EASTCONN’s service area and the state, through workshops taught by EASTCONN staff. Continued to provide training at the national level, through both the Northeastern U.S. and National PowerSchool conferences. Provided input on product design and reporting methods to both the CSDE Performance Office team and to the PowerSchool corporate product development team.

Technology Grant Technology Solutions applied for and received a grant for the modernization of networking equipment at the Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school in Willimantic. The ACT school utilized the new equipment for digital design and video

“With student information systems at the heart of daily school operations, it is reassuring to know that access to knowledgeable personnel are a phone call or workshop away at EASTCONN. From specific SIS problems that needed a quick solution to fullday workshops on emerging State data requirements, EASTCONN support and training have given us confidence that we are moving in the right direction.” – John Baldwin, Information Systems Coordinator, Norwich Free Academy 76


TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS production that results in exceptionally large files that must be transported throughout the in-school network and out to Internet locations. This equipment vastly improved the reliability of these transfers.

Technology Planning Process A notable service improvement this year was the implementation of a comprehensive technology planning process. All EASTCONN departments completed surveys describing their upcoming needs and identifying areas for future improvement. Follow-up interviews with each unit allowed us to jointly determine priorities for the upcoming year. Provided recommendations on how to best accomplish the projects that were identified, specifically identifying budget implications, allowing participants to better plan for next year’s expenditures.

Adult Education Support • Remote Classroom Support: Set up remote classroom in New Haven, an expansion of our Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB)-funded I-BEST academies, providing Internet access and reporting support.

• Video Conferencing: Supported EASTCONN Adult Educa Wireless Network Upgrades tion in providing its first point-to-point simulcast, allowing Due to the growing demand for instruction in one classroom to be wireless networking services, delivered to another classroom on Our provides: all wireless access points at the the other side of the region. This ACT arts magnet high school, proof of concept was necessary to more processing Adult Education locations and assess the economy and practicality Commerce Drive were updated of sharing instructional resources in more active or replaced. this way. Benefits include increased class capacity, decreased student more Increased Virtual travel distances (especially for Server Capacity transportation-challenged students) A new VMWare server was and decreased per-student expenses. installed, providing 50% more processing power, 100% more active memory and 75% more storage for virtual servers.

New Server

50% 100% 75%

Power

Memory Storage

Internal Administrative & Infrastructure Support

2015-2016 Challenges

Employee Self Service Portal As an enhancement of the newly updated MUNIS system, an Employee Self Service (ESS) portal was implemented, allowing EASTCONN staff members to manage many aspects of their employee records and benefit information, and reducing our Human Resources’ time in managing paper processes. This marks the first online system that each and every EASTCONN staff member will be required to use. It will manage time cards, leave requests, contact information updates, benefits selection and several other related functions.

Staff Capacity Maintaining highly qualified technology staff with the prerequisite knowledge, skill and experience, particularly those skilled in application development and data analysis that will allow EASTCONN to provide cost-effective services to our member districts, is an ongoing challenge. Technology Solutions is constantly searching for talented individuals to support our cutting-edge programs.

District Budget Constraints Limited availability of grants and local resources continued to make it difficult for educators to attend regional workshops and to access our embedded coaching, training and technical assistance; such assistance is necessary for planned, ongoing and systematic professional development that impacts improved student learning outcomes.

MUNIS Modernization MUNIS is the general ledger application used by EASTCONN, supporting most business functions. In an agency-wide effort, this software was upgraded, providing substantial new functionality. The core application will now be available through the Web, vastly simplifying application management. This also included the implementation of a document management feature, in many cases eliminating the need for printing by attaching forms directly to e-mail, and an archival feature that increased security.

Aging Software & Infrastructure Pockets of legacy systems that are running older operating systems represented a significant barrier to fully leveraging IT management tools.

“[Your IT staff members] have provided us with terrific IT support during the past year. They are reliable and responsive to the needs of our district. They are always professional, friendly and available when prompt responses are needed. We have used EASTCONN now for over five years to help us with all of our technological needs. Thank you!” – Steve Jackopsic, Principal & Special Education Director, Union Public Schools 77


TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS classroom to inspire students to adopt STEAM-related education and career goals. Develop workshops and other activities to expose technology support professionals and teachers to such things as microcontrollers, sensors and the “Maker” culture.

Supporting Mobile Technology & Proliferation of Connected Devices As the use of tablets and other mobile devices increases, both on and off the network, we must adapt and ensure that we continue to offer high-quality network support, and accommodate our mobile users with applications and communications tools. Mobile devices also present a challenge because they are often only connected to the network sporadically, and software management tools for their support are not as developed as those for personal computer support.

Utilize Emerging Technology Tools Continue to leverage the power of emerging technology tools, including tablets and other mobile devices, social networking and video conferencing, to create more authentic and engaging online learning opportunities for educators and for students.

Expanded Online Learning for Educators & Students Plans & Implications for 2016-2017 As member partners of the Connecticut Education Network (CEN), we have the capacity to Expanding Markets connect our teleconferencing equipSeek new customers for our technology ment to digital recording equipment How well did we do it? products and seek new development housed at CEN, allowing us to capture “[Your IT staff] are extremely partners as a way of both reducing costs professional development presentato our member districts and providing easy and professional to work tions for online redistribution at a later a revenue stream for the research and date; it also provides educators with with ... I trust their judgement development effort that is needed to reincreased, individualized access to and welcome their expertise ...” main current in the marketplace. There professional learning. This technology is a need to recruit an IT professional permits the agency to reach a wider with responsibilities as a software product sales specialist, to audience of teachers and students, greatly enriching the teaching engage interested states and districts on the benefits of using and learning experience through collaboration with teachers and EASTCONN’s established software base. students worldwide; it also provides access to subject experts in a wide variety of fields. Leverage Involvement in Statewide & Regional Web-Based Data Management Solutions Surveys to Identify Best Practices Continue to develop affordable Web-based assessment and data As a result of our involvement in survey research, EASTCONN management solutions for partners, with an emphasis on tools is in a position to identify districts and other partners who have that will enhance educators’ ability to use data to make deciachieved exceptional results and are on the cutting-edge of best sions and support changes in teacher evaluation. practices. The shared data we gather, as in the case of the School Climate Survey, could be used to identify and solicit high-per Gaming in the Classroom forming districts to detail how they have achieved their results Facilitate a regional conversation on gaming in the classroom, and ask them to facilitate regional discussions on these topics. culminating in a game designer–educator summit. Topics of interest currently include Gaming and Education–The Common Expand IT Support Services for Member Districts Ground; Leveraging Gaming Culture; A Mile in Their MoccaSeek to increase the variety and availability of IT support sersins–Role Playing, Gaming and Common Core Alignment; A vices for member districts, with an emphasis on EASTCONN’s No-Math Introduction to Game Theory, Strategic Thinking and ability to provide flexible support as needed. Build management, the Balance of Multiple Objectives, and more. supervision, staff evaluation and placement services. Legacy Systems Updates As a result of this year’s comprehensive technology planning process, we have identified the systems that hold the highest priority for replacement.

Advanced Technologies in Support of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM) Support the introduction of advanced technologies into the

“Our district has been working with EASTCONN technology services for the past 15 years. They are extremely easy and professional to work with. The past few years they installed the wireless system for our building, including configuring the access point, installing the wireless LAN controller, and teaching me how to use it. They made recommendations on what equipment to purchase and worked with me and the supplier to get exactly what we needed to do the job. They have also updated and organized our main closet installing new switches. I plan on having them help with the installation of a new server and moving all files from the old server. I would highly recommend their expertise with all my technology needs and services. I trust their judgment and welcome their expertise in guiding me to purchase exactly what I need.” – Debbie Kaika, Technology Coordinator, Marlborough Public Schools 78


TRANSPORTATION GOALS

OVERVIEW

Transportation Services provides school districts and agencies in our region with a cost-effective and safe means of transporting their students and clients. We focus on individualized and specialized transportation solutions for districts and other agencies. Transportation is available for students with special needs, as well as for other public school students and adult clients going to job training sites. We also manage a Driver Safety School, providing specialized training for new drivers who will be driving for us, as well as yearly re-certification training classes for our current drivers. In addition, the Driver Safety School offers programs for area residents seeking to become safer drivers, as well as those pursuing an initial driver’s license.

1. Continue to increase the number of districts and customers in our regionally coordinated transportation system, especially for children whose special needs require outplacement. 2. Provide the highest-quality service, in the most costeffective and time-efficient manner, to meet customer requirements.

2015-2016 Highlights & Accomplishments

Regional Transportation Initiative Managed shared runs for 15 member districts with special education students placed in out-of-district programs in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiencies across the region.

Client Transportation Pre-K-12 Transportation Safely transported 600 students daily, traveling a total of more than 2.5 million miles to 90 sites (up from 68 in 2014-2015) throughout Connecticut, as well as to Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Adult Riders Continued our contract with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB), to transport low-income, unemployed adult riders traveling to skills-training programs and job interviews, as well as to work sites. On average, 7 clients were transported weekly. Given the shortage of public transportation in northeastern Connecticut, this continues to be a critically needed service. Driver Education & Training Driver Training All 80 of our drivers participated in state-mandated training that included information about anti-bullying, blood-borne pathogens/universal precautions, student management, emergency procedures, seasonal safety, substance use and abuse, activity trips, communication skills, laws and regulations and characteristics of students with special needs. The training is supplemented with a review of EASTCONN’s policies and procedures, including the prevention of sexual harassment, use of social media, and more.

Student Transportation Destinations • Provided transportation services to 26 member districts, including Head Start in Putnam, Killingly and Plainfield; 3 outof-region districts; and Dept. of Children and Families (DCF). • Transported 148 students from 19 districts to the region’s 3 public magnet schools: Windham’s Barrows STEM Academy; EASTCONN’s ACT high school; and Quinebaug Middle College.

Driver Education School Operational in 2 regional locations (Danielson and Williman-

“Region 19 contracts with EASTCONN to provide special transportation for our students. We have worked together for many years and EASTCONN has always been responsive to our needs. New transportation is set up quickly and when possible, EASTCONN will try to save the district money by cost sharing.” – Joyce Corso, Special Services Secretary, Region 19 79


TRANSPORTATION tic), the driver education program serving all ages continued to grow, up 6% from last year: 116 participants attended the 38-hour new-driver program and 460 participants attended the 8-hour safe driver program.

cost-effective special education transportation prices continues to be challenging. We are currently providing 15 districts with shared transportation.

Plans & Implications for 2016-2017

Expansion & Improvements Fleet Expanded our fleet with the purchase of more than 20 new vans and minibuses, many of which are specially equipped to accommodate students with physical disabilities. The minibuses enable us to transport larger numbers of students at one time, thus reducing costs. Our 120-vehicle fleet includes yellow buses, minibuses, vans and mobility vehicles. All vehicles have cellular communication, GPS, safety and first-aid equipment; some have integrated car seats, wheel-chair lifts and video cameras as needed to accommodate student needs. Office Relocation & Updates Completed the relocation of our fleet and offices to 109 Willimantic Road, Route 6, Columbia. Office area and garages were updated to meet both current and future needs.

Our 120-vehicle fleet transports hundreds of students daily to destinations that range from regional special education and adult training programs to magnet schools.

Software Updates New transportation software was installed this past year to ensure that all changes in transportation are accurately reflected on customers’ invoices. We pride ourselves on flexibility and a fast response to our changing customer needs, and the new software is a key element of that service.

Expand Regional Collaboration Continue to increase the number of districts and customers in regionally coordinated transportation for children with special needs who travel to outplacement programs. Continue to work collaboratively with districts in identifying more shared routes to other common locations (e.g. magnet schools) to cut costs and increase regional efficiencies by utilizing our newly created regional transportation database.

Equipment Upgrades Cell phones are being utilized to convey daily vehicle inspection reports. Improved safety monitoring was implemented through a new GPS system that provided feedback on a driver’s speed, stopping and cornering. Continued the use of video cameras to monitor and record student behavior, when requested.

2014-2015 Challenges

Staffing • Continue to seek effective strategies for recruiting or retraining qualified drivers, including collaborating with EASTCONN’s Adult Education program to identify and train potential drivers.

600 total 2.5 Million miles

• Provide potential drivers who are going Bused students a Staffing through both training and a waiting Finding prospective drivers who must period, with the opportunity to work as a then participate in state-mandated bus aide until they have been issued their of training continues to be a challenge driver’s certification. This helps address because of the 12-to-16-week waiting the challenge of the 12-to-16-week waiting period when properiod required for a Department of Motor Vehicle-issued cerspective drivers are without employment. tification. Many qualified potential drivers cannot afford to be without employment for such an extended period of time. New Web site A new Web site is being designed to provide our customers Regional Collaboration and potential new employees with more current and accessible Getting all districts in the region to participate in coordinating information. their out-of-district special education runs to ensure the most “EASTCONN has been a tremendous asset and partner for our transportation needs. [Your staff] has always been willing to work with our district in meeting our transportation needs in the most fiscally responsible manner. This flexibility and willingness to adjust to a small district’s needs has been essential in minimizing transportation costs. In addition, cost savings of several thousands of dollars each year have been realized as a result of sharing vehicles for multiple routes.” – Steven J. Jackopsic, Principal and Special Education Director, Union Public Schools 80


EASTCONN Administrative Team 376 Hartford Turnpike, Hampton, CT 06247 Telephone: 860-455-0707; Fax: 860-455-8026 www.eastconn.org

Executive Director............................Paula M. Colen Hampton..............................860-455-1505.......... pcolen@eastconn.org Adult & Community Services...........Richard Tariff Hampton..............................860-455-1562.......... rtariff@eastconn.org Early Childhood Initiatives...............Diane Gozemba Hampton..............................860-455-1518.......... dgozemba@eastconn.org Facilities Services.............................Michael Akana Hampton..............................860-455-1500.......... makana@eastconn.org Finance..............................................John Baskowski Hampton..............................860-455-1502.......... jbaskowski@eastconn.org Human Resources.............................Steve Wapen Hampton..............................860-455-1554.......... swapen@eastconn.org K-12 Student Services.......................Thomas Cronin Hampton..............................860-455-1512.......... tcronin@eastconn.org Marketing & Communications.........Dotty Budnick Hampton..............................860-455-1506.......... dbudnick@eastconn.org Planning & Development..................Maureen Crowley Hampton..............................860-455-1513.......... mcrowley@eastconn.org Teaching & Learning Services..........Scott Nierendorf Hampton..............................860-455-1621.......... snierendorf@eastconn.org Technology Solutions........................Andrew DePalma Hampton..............................860-455-1620.......... adepalma@eastconn.org Transportation Services.....................John Vitale Columbia.............................860-228-6751.......... jvitale@eastconn.org

It is the policy of EASTCONN that no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be discriminated against under any program because of race, color, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, genetic information, gender identity or expression, veteran status, disability or any other classification protected by state or federal law. 81


EASTCONN Board Members Chairman..................... Mr. Herbert Arico............................ Willington Public Schools Vice-Chairman............ Mr. Douglas Smith.......................... Plainfield Public Schools Secretary/Treasurer..... Ms. Katherine Paulhus.................... Mansfield Public Schools

Dr. Judy Benson Clarke.................. Regional District #8

Ms. Aimee Crawford....................... Franklin Public Schools

Ms. Mary Ellen Donnelly................ Hampton Public Schools

Ms. Diana Ingraham........................ Voluntown Public Schools

Ms. Joan Trivella............................. Brooklyn Public Schools

Mr. William Oros............................ Coventry Public Schools

Ms. Sharon Kozey........................... Eastford Public Schools

Mr. Joseph Lewerk.......................... Lisbon Public Schools

Mr. Richard Murray........................ Killingly Public Schools

Ms. Jennifer Nelson........................ Regional District #11

Mr. Walt Petruniw........................... Canterbury Public Schools

Mrs. Tracy Rummel........................ Stafford Public Schools

Mr. Murphy Sewall......................... Windham Public Schools

Ms. Valerie May.............................. Pomfret Public Schools

Ms. Anne Stearns............................ Scotland Public Schools

EASTCONN’s Board of Directors is composed of locally elected officials from our member school district Boards of Education. As a Connecticut Regional Educational Service Center (RESC), EASTCONN is locally governed and regionally focused.

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