Annual Board Update 2012-2013
From the Executive Director A year ago, in my introduction to last year’s Annual Board Update, I noted that 2011-2012 had been the year of educational reform, not only in Connecticut, but across the nation. Clearly, a year later, 2012-2013 has been the year of education reform implementation, from educator evaluation to student success planning to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and preparation for Smarter Balanced Assessments. With limited additional funding to support the many reforms, districts were challenged to find ways to combine resources and build on existing strategies and strengths. One of our historic regional strengths in northeast Connecticut has been the willingness to voluntarily pool resources and collaborate across districts, and 2012-2013 was no exception. More than 80 administrators and teachers from over 30 districts attended our series of 7 workshops on Connecticut’s new educator evaluation system. In addition to providing in-depth information on the four required components, we shared a CCT-based rubric developed for our own EASTCONN educator evaluation plan.
EASTCONN Executive Director Paula M. Colen chats with the agency’s Executive Board Vice-Chair John Adamo, who represents Windham Public Schools, during last year’s annual meeting at the Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic.
Almost 140 educators from 19 different districts participated in EASTCONN-facilitated CCSS Regional Consortia addressing the instructional changes needed as the new standards are implemented. They participated in joint professional development and collaborated on learning progressions, units of instruction and formative/summative assessment development.
Another regional collaboration of note is the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP), an 11-member regional collaborative that is concluding its first year of operation. Members expect to see significant cost savings. Using a regionalization planning grant provided by CSDE, our superintendents continued to explore the potential for cost savings through common calendars, regional transportation and back-office support. These few examples illustrate the power of regional educational service delivery. Throughout this document you will finds hundreds more examples, describing not only what we are doing, but detailing: how much we are doing, how well we are doing it, and what difference is it making? With diminishing resources and many competing priorities, it is essential that we hold ourselves accountable for producing and documenting results. I was delighted to see all the ways that EASTCONN staff are making a difference and I hope you will as well. Enjoy your reading,
Paula M. Colen
REGION • AT • A • GLANCE
EASTCONN • AT • A • GLANCE
33..... Communities 36..... School Systems 79..... Schools 237 .... Administrators 3,152..... Teachers 39,382..... Students 266,119..... Residents
160.......Programs & Services 550.......Employees 20.......Locations 173,296.......Facilities’ Square Footage 100+.......Student Transport Vehicles $72 million.......Annual Budget
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
From the Executive Director..........................................................................................page 1 Agency Goal Updates: Agency Goal 1: Low-Incidence Learners...............................................................page 3 Economically Disadvantaged Individuals.......................................................page 3 Individuals with Special Needs.......................................................................page 5 Non-Traditional & At-Risk Learners..............................................................page 8 English Language Learners (ELL)..................................................................page 10 n
Agency Goal 2: New, Emerging and Expanding Needs.........................................page 14 New Programs, Products & Services..............................................................page 14 Expanding Services and/or new Customers for Existing Services.................page 17 n
Agency Goal 3: Improved Outcomes for all Learners............................................page 20 Research-to-Practice Improving Learner Outcomes.......................................page 20 Collaborations & Partnerships........................................................................page 23 n
EASTCONNâ€™s Six Divisions.........................................................................................page 28 Program Updates: Adult Programs...............................................................................................page 29 Early Childhood Initiatives.............................................................................page 34 Facilities/IT Services.......................................................................................page 39 Finance............................................................................................................page 42 Human Resources...........................................................................................page 45 K-12 Student Services.....................................................................................page 48 Marketing & Communications........................................................................page 56 Planning & Development................................................................................page 62 Teaching & Learning Services........................................................................page 65 Technology Solutions......................................................................................page 71 Transportation Services...................................................................................page 77 n
EASTCONN Administrative Team................................................................................page 79 EASTCONN Board of Directors...................................................................................page 80P
Cover photos, clockwise, from upper left: A teacher and student at EASTCONNâ€™s Autism Program; Head Start children on the playground; educators conferring at a Common Core State Standards workshop; and an ESL student online during class. 2
Agency Goal #1 To provide exemplary (innovative and evidence-based) programs and services to our communities for low-incidence learners
Overview For nearly 50 years, regional educational service centers have existed in Connecticut to help their member school districts educate certain individuals who, while small in number, present with significant and often multiple barriers to success in school and the workplace. Last year, EASTCONN provided direct services to more than 8,000 “low-incidence” learners, ranging in age from young children to adults, including individuals who are economically disadvantaged, racially isolated, who have dropped out or who are at high risk of dropping out, and those who have either identified or unidentified special education needs, and/or who have limited English proficiency. By pooling multiple funding sources and developing shared, regional solutions, we provided our local member districts with a multitude of program options that would otherwise be too expensive for individual school districts to offer.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED INDIVIDUALS The ties between poverty and achievement are well researched and documented and it is no surprise that in a region with high unemployment and high rates of poverty, we also find a significant number of individuals, from young children through adults, who lack the skills needed to be successful in school, who lack a high school diploma, are unemployed or underemployed, or who lack the basic and vocational skills needed to secure employment. They include families with young children, in-school youth who are failing and truant, young adults who have dropped out, and many adults of all ages who are unemployed and underemployed. Some are new immigrants and aspiring citizens whose limited English proficiency creates an additional and significant barrier to both educational and employment success. By securing new sources of funding and combining and coordinating these funds, EASTCONN is able to serve more people in more ways, resulting in stronger basic skills, high school credentials, expanded post-secondary education and training participation, citizenship, increased employment and enhanced earning power.
Unusual objects are more than playthings, as they become tools for active learning in an Early Head Start classroom. Young Children & their Families • EASTCONN is the grantee for the federally funded program for Head Start and Early Head Start in Windham and Tolland counties.
“I was nineteen years old, I had no support. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The program helped me to find the resources for my son. They helped me. They were my support system.” — Dawn D., Early Head Start Parent, Plainfield “From infancy to preschool age, they help with every aspect of your life.”
— Jennifer B., Head Start Parent, Plainfield 3
Agency Goal #1 • Through center-based or home-based options, 471 economically disadvantaged young children and their families receive high-quality comprehensive services that incorporate education, health, nutrition, dental, mental health, social services and family engagement. • Sixty-three percent (63%) of families were at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; 14% were on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), in foster care or homeless; 94% of children received ongoing medical care; and 84% had dental examinations. School-Aged Children • Employment & Training Programs for In-School Youth: We were competitively selected by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) as the vendor of choice for all in-school youth programs in recognition of our history of demonstrated effectiveness, evidenced by a historic 95% high school completion rate. Delivered programs to 673 youth in our region and subcontracted with community-based organizations in Norwich and New London, who serve additional students in the southeastern Connecticut region.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen, third from left, helped Trail Blazers crews celebrate their summer work, improving the infrastructure of northeastern Connecticut state parks. – Summer Youth Employment Program: 500+ lowincome students participated in the EWIB-funded summer youth experience that included employability classes, resume-writing, interviewing skills, career decision-making inventories and paid work experience. Students received the academic support they need to stay in school and were exposed to the world of work, while supplementing their income; 100% of partici-
pants produced an employability portfolio documenting their skill and knowledge growth over the summer. – Cool Directions: 53 students participated in Cool Directions, our year-round, in-school program that supplements the summer employment and training program with a strong academic support component supporting high school completion and post-secondary option exploration; 95% successfully completed high school; many had been at high risk for dropping out. – Health Pipeline: 20 students with an expressed interest in health-related occupations, many of whom participate in their high school health career pathways, participated in online, health-related education courses, covering subjects from patient confidentiality to blood-borne pathogen safety. All students were placed in work experience positions at community health care facilities including hospitals, nursing homes and therapy centers; 85% of participants entered healthrelated education or employment upon completion of the program. • Arts in the Afternoon: 65 students from Windham Heights, a U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized housing complex in Willimantic, engaged in after-school programming that combined academic enrichment with the arts. Daily homework assistance was provided and the program offered monthly family events, promoting family literacy tied to monthly arts-integrated academic themes. • Free & Reduced Meals: 144 students in our schools and programs are economically disadvantaged: they include 40 students (30% of the population) at Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT); 42 students (37% of the population) at Quinebaug Middle College (QMC); and 62 students (83% of the population) at our Educational and Vocational Center and Northeast Regional Program (EVC/NRP). In an effort to help to supply adequate daily nutrition to these students, we instituted the Free-and-Reduced Meal Program. Each day, EASTCONN’s new Food Services program provides 38 school breakfasts and lunches to students at EVC and 25 to NRP, 50-75 meals at ACT and 50 meals at QMC. All students, regardless of ability to pay, now have a nutritional meal available to them at school. Employment & Training Programs for Adults EASTCONN is northeastern Connecticut’s primary provider of employment and training services for adults and out-of-school youth, facing significant barriers to economic self-sufficiency.
“The last few years have been kind of rough riding for me. It has taken me a lot to actually get to this point, to make the first step to decide to come back to school, to make a change in my life for the better for myself and my daughter. I want to be able to provide a stable and secure future for my daughter… Since entering the I-Best Program I’ve started to feel a since of independence and responsibility of taking charge of my life… it has opened up many opportunities for me.” — Alicia L. Auclair, IBEST student 4
Agency Goal #1 software applications, health care); and a “Surviving Tough Times” workshop series. Our summer employment and training program for young adults combines employability skills training with environmental sciences training and subsidized employment in Connecticut state parks. • Highlights from 2012-2013: – Counseling & Referral Services: 581 unemployed or under-employed, economically disadvantaged adult learners were assessed, counseled and matched to employment and training programs by EASTCONN caseworkers through our partnership with CTWorks. Job-specific training like this customer service class provides adult students with skills that enhance their job opportunities. • Participants Served: Overall, across all of our adult employment and training programs, we served 773 economically disadvantaged individuals. They included recent dropouts, the underemployed, dislocated workers and long-term unemployed, all of whom lack the skills necessary to find and retain employment; their skill development needs included basic educational skills, vocational skills, job-specific skills and/or employability skills. All of our programs are provided under contract to the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) and are targeted to income-eligible individuals.
– Dislocated Worker Support: Added 8 staff to provide support to dislocated workers in both our Willimantic and Danielson offices through a new Workforce Investment Act (WIA) subcontract with Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA); 235 participants are expected to be served with the expectation that they will enter employment or enroll in post-secondary job-skills training. – Transportation: Provided transportation for lowincome, unemployed adults traveling to skills-training programs, job interviews or work sites, under contract to the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB); on average, 9 clients were transported weekly.
• Range of Services Provided: Delivered a wide range of INDIVIDUALS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS services across our proThere are individuals of all ages grams, including: initial inwho have physical, mental and How much did we do? takes to determine eligibiliemotional challenges that limit ty; academic and vocational Almost 1,200 economically their access to education. The assessment; counseling menu of services we offer, includdisadvantaged youth and and referral services; case ing highly specialized education, adults were served across our management; job counseltherapies and individualized employment and training programs ing/referral; employability instruction or interventions, and work readiness instrucreflects the range of those needs. tion; “fast track” basic skills Close proximity to home is almost remediation; GED preparation instruction; vocational always preferable, so we work with local school districts, skills training certification classes (i.e. customer service, families and other area service providers to enhance their
“I’m learning more and more ways to communicate to people, I’ve been able to research and network further, and I will have certification at the end that will make my job searches more productive. Opening conversations to other people has always been a barrier of mine. I have learned how to open a conversation in appropriate ways that will help me not only in the work field but on a personal level as well.” — Jennifer Kwasek, JFES Customer Service student “The Intensive customer service class at EASTCONN that I am currently enrolled in is wonderful! There are so many great things you learn, and so many ways to personally grow. My favorite part of the class is learning the different techniques for handling customers, both internal and external…and ways to deal with different people and different situations everyday… learning about Dress For Success… a skill I need to be able to use in everyday life, and for job search… and that the way you present yourself, represents the company you are employed by, or trying to be employed by.” — Kayla Bourbeau, JFES Customer Service student 5
Agency Goal #1 capacity to serve individuals with special needs through the delivery of training, on-site coaching, modeling and other specialized support. We combine on-site support with preK12+, center-based programs, strategically located in the communities we serve, where we work to increase access to learning and to achieve successful transition back to home districts or educational/vocational placements. For young children in particular, interventions include a focus on families, in an effort to help them understand and implement strategies that best support their children. Strong and early intervention has produced the greatest successes, while at the same time, some of our biggest challenges come from older adult education students who come with undocumented disabilities due to immigration from other countries, or school attendance before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted in 1975.
– Helping parents to understand their child’s disability (98%). – Making clear the rights that families have, within the system (97%). – Providing help and information to families pertaining to additional services in their towns (98%). Regional Programs for K-12+ Students with Special Needs One hundred and twenty-six (126) students with special needs came to our schools and special education programs (an increase of 26% over the previous year), including 20 students with an intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, or autism. Students in our schools and programs received highly specialized education and individualized instruction, so that they have better access to learning and successful transitions to home districts or other educational and vocational placements. • Students with Autism Spectrum & Other Developmental Disorders: We continue to expand in our regional autism program where 7 students received high-quality instruction on a one-to-one basis, including individualized instruction, small group instruction, occupational and physical therapy, assistive technology support and behavior-planning support. The goal of our Autism Program is to transition students to their home
An occupational therapist assists a student with mastering fine motor skills that will help boost classroom success. Birth-to-Three Services Birth-to-Three Programming: 88 children and their families from all 33 EASTCONN area towns received ongoing services through our regional program; and 90 children were evaluated. The Connecticut Birth-to-Three system exists to strengthen the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health-related needs of their infants and toddlers who have delays or disabilities. Family Survey results demonstrate that EASTCONN’s Birth-toThree staff are meeting families’ needs; highly ranked program qualities included:
Vital, one-to-one instruction increases student success at EASTCONN’s Educational and Vocational Center (EVC).
“Our son has made so much progress throughout the 9 months we were with the B23 program. [Your staff] were the most professional, knowledgeable, responsive, and patient providers that I could have imagined. I felt as though they both took the time to get to know C. on a multidimensional level and I did feel like we were all working together towards a common goal. I always trusted that they were pointing us in the right direction, even when some of the suggestions were difficult to hear.” — Laura, Birth-to Three Parent, Woodstock “Our experience with the EASTCONN Birth to Three Program continues to be one of a positive, mutually supportive nature, working together for the families and children we both serve. Meetings are scheduled and held in a timely manner, and information shared is well organized and thorough. The needs of the child are always well represented and show careful planning.” — Linda Loretz, Principal/Superintendent, Eastford Public Schools 6
Agency Goal #1 school environments, where they can engage with their non-disabled peers. As the result of effective collaboration with and EASTCONN’s training of district staff, 2 of our students are in the process of transitioning to their home schools in the coming What difference did it make? school year.
EVC was proud
• Students with Emotional seniors in June and Behavioral Needs: The Educational and Vocational Center (EVC) and the Northeast Regional Program (NRP) were combined under one leadership structure this year to ensure continuity and high-quality programming for students across the region. Among these programs’ strengths is an innovative intake process that allows for extensive collaboration and coordination among students’ families, educational providers and community support organizations, in order to meet the needs of the whole child. – The program extended its range of services in 20122013 to include 75 students from ages 5 through 20, representing a 20% increase in students enrolled, including students from 22 sending districts, 3 of which were new this year. – This year, the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) was involved with 60% of our students and 24% of our students were involved with the judicial system. Seventeen percent (17%) of students were in foster care, 84% required psychiatric medications and 40% had a history of inpatient hospitalization. – Despite the significant risk factors that students in these programs face, as a result of the effective coordination of clinical and educational services that EVC and NRP provide, 10-20% of their students will return next year to less restrictive settings in their home schools, and EVC is proud to graduate 7 seniors in June 2013. Students with Assistive Technology (AT) Needs EASTCONN’s AT services to the region continue to expand with improvements to, and increases in, the technologies available to help students successfully access their learning, particularly in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). • Tablet Technology: iPads have provided new, low-cost avenues for AAC and educational skill development for students and families. The AT team has been working this year to train and support staff members throughout
the region and at our Educational and Vocational Center (EVC) and Northeast Regional Program (NRP) in the use of iPads as instructional tools to meet individual students’ needs. Students who have challenges in accessing print, communication, or focusing have benefited from to graduate 7 the use of iPad technologies. 2013 Staff members have anecdotally reported high levels of student engagement and success in using applications to access learning and develop skills. – Data reported from the 3 months of the iPad pilot indicate that 100% of the student population at EVC and NRP have used iPads in the classroom, and 70% of our classrooms are using iPads on a daily basis for instruction in reading, math, spelling, social studies, science and social skills. Many of our most challenged students, those who struggle with issues of focus, have significant learning challenges, and/or who are resistant to receiving instruction, have benefited from the use of iPads as an educational tool. – Data collected will be used to define new directions in the use of iPads in our clinical day-treatment programs and in the region. • Individualized Services to Students in Districts: Our AT team has provided cost-effective, personalized applications and technologies to 15 districts (10 in the EASTCONN region and 5 from other areas) and their students with special needs; these fee-based services allow students increased access to the curriculum and the ability to increasingly participate and progress toward independence. • Services for Visually Impaired Students: The AT team is expanding its skills and services to meet the needs of students with visual impairments, and is expanding the AT Lending Library with resources to meet this need. This is an important target area for support, as the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) funding has restricted funding for services provided to only the blind population. Students with Related Services Needs Our Related Services providers divides its time between providing direct therapies to students, both in-district and in EASTCONN regional program settings as defined in their Individualized Educational Plans, and providing con-
“EASTCONN staff that I have interacted with are enthusiastic about their work and committed to making a difference in the schools and communities they provide support for. I have been impressed by the high caliber and professionalism of the staff and their range of solid experiences.” — Dr. Xae Alicia Reyes, Educator and Host of CTV14’s “Education Matters” TV Show 7
Agency Goal #1 sultation and professional development to educators and Related Services providers throughout the region. • Direct Therapy to Students: 400+ students from 22 districts throughout the northeast region received Related Services, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language therapy and psychological and behavioral services.
technology to maximize route efficiency and support real-time communications between vehicles and our Central Dispatch. • Drivers are specially trained to work with specialneeds riders. In addition, they establish and maintain relationships with both program staff and families to help ensure a smooth transition between home and programs.
• Consultation & Professional Development: In addition to accessing direct services in these areas, districts may also take advantage of our assessment and evaluation services, consultations and professional development. Our team of specialists offers the region’s districts and students exemplary, research-based interventions and strategies, as well as technological tools to enhance students’ access to their learning. The team has also developed local communities of practice throughout the region, through which new ideas, best practices and strategies for student learning are shared. Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services (BRS) Program Forty (40) in-school BRS “consumers,” with a variety of special challenges, were served in this EWIB-funded, year-round program, where employability skills-training was combined with job shadowing and work experience opportunities. Upon completion of the program, all are projected to either remain in school or graduate, with 90% either entering employment, enrolling in post-secondary education, or continuing as consumers of the Adult Services program at BRS.
Quinebaug Middle College serves its non-traditional learners with high-quality, individualized, small-classroom instruction.
NON-TRADITIONAL & AT-RISK LEARNERS
There are many reasons why some individuals of all ages are unsuccessful in traditional educational settings, and individual school districts, particularly small rural schools, are hard-pressed to provide the variety of interventions and Regional Transportation of Youth with Special program options needed to ensure every individual’s sucNeeds cess. All our potential program A total of 746 special needs participants face significant barstudents were transported on riers to the attainment of positive How well did we do? a daily basis to programs in educational outcomes, but limited All of our vehicles utilize GPS Connecticut and neighboring financial resources, exacerbated technology to maximize route states. Nineteen (19) member by a struggling economy, make efficiency districts, 8 non-member the already limited program districts, and the state intervention options even less Department of Children and accessible. Regional programs, Families (DCF) used the agency’s specially equipped consortiums and magnet schools are a cost-effective way to fleet of 110 vehicles to transport their most fragile make many more free or low-cost options available to learnstudent populations. Provided all in-district special needs ers, from young children developing the skills they need to be transportation through a new contract with one of our successful when they enter school, to mature adults seeking a larger districts, resulting in significant savings. high school diploma. A high school diploma is now required, even for many entry-level jobs, and is key to transitioning out • All vehicles are specially equipped to handle the needs of poverty. The most recent Census data show that full-time of disabled populations and utilize state-of-the-art GPS workers with a high school diploma will earn $7,000 more “Since being at EASTCONN, I have moved along phenomenally. With plenty of practice, drive, and consistency in my work, I should be graduating this summer. I came here with 7 credits. The people here want to see us succeed and they will do anything in their power to make sure that we do. From mental help to physical labor, to helping put food in our stomach. They really do love us here.” — J., Student, EVC/NRP 8
Agency Goal #1 annually than those who have dropped out. After earning a GED, hourly wages increase by 2% every year beyond an expected wage increase based on experience alone. Five years after credentialing, a GED graduate will be earning 10% more than a dropout with comparable experience. Over 40 years, a GED graduate can expect to earn $270,000 more than a high school dropout. School-Aged Learners • Quinebaug Middle College (QMC): This high school magnet focuses on meeting the needs of non-traditional learners and at-risk high school students in northeastern Connecticut who benefit from high-quality, highly individualized educational support, personalized instruction, and a wide range of opportunities to achieve academic excellence, a high school degree and college credits.
levels in arts performance and in academics. They use their artistic interests and passion as the platform for individualized educational experiences and authentic applications of learning. – ACT enrolled 140 students this year, from 27 different communities, in grades 9-12; 24 seniors graduated. • Employment & Training Program for State Department of Children & Families (DCF) Clients: 60 in-school DCF clients, many of whom are living in foster and group homes, participated in this EWIB-funded program, designed to keep them in school through engagement in academic support and employability skills training.
– At full capacity in 2012-2013, QMC enrolled 111, in grades 10 through 12, from 17 different communities. In addition, 53 students are on the waiting list, hoping for a chance to attend. – Thirty-four (34) seniors graduated; 20 seniors planned to pursue higher education, while 10 others were already employed, and 2 were entering military service. • Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT): ACT engages students who have a strong interest in the arts, and for whom learning in traditional academic content areas is enhanced through integration of arts skills and academic concepts. ACT students are motivated to achieve at high
Adult learners sharpen their computer and online skills during a GED preparation class, offered in Willimantic.
Adult Learners • Adult Education: Managed the Northeast Regional Adult Education Consortium on behalf of 21 member districts. By pooling individual LEA Adult Education grant funds, we are able to offer a wide range of classes at our 2 regional learning centers, as well as at community-based sites across the region; served 1,500+ adult learners who attended the more than 200 free classes offered in GED preparation (in both English and Spanish), including the Credit Diploma Program (CDP), National External Diploma Program (NEDP), English-as-a-Second Language (ESL), American citizenship preparation, life/basic skills instruction and employment transition support. An Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) acting student gets clear pointers from her director during rehearsal for a show.
• PIP Grants: We are one of only two Adult Education programs to receive all 7 categories of Program Improvement Projects (PIPS) from the CSDE, totaling $255,000
“ACT has been the best part of my son’s educational experience so far. While he was always an excellent student, his personality as a creative thinker left him feeling like he didn’t quite “fit” with his peers in the traditional public school setting. He now refers to ACT as his “second family” and is more comfortable with who he is than he has ever been before. I can’t say enough good things about the faculty and staff at ACT. They create an environment that enables creative students to thrive and grow into talented, confident, young adults.” — Janine S., ACT Parent 9
Agency Goal #1
An English-as-a-Second-Language class attracts students of all ages as they work toward improving their limited English language proficiency, a significant barrier to accessing continued education, vocational training and employment. in competitive grant awards. These innovative programs, ranging from non-traditional sites to a contextualized employment and training class, will have served more than 300 adult participants by the end of June 2013. – Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST): This innovative pilot project combines CSDE PIP funding with EWIB funding to provide 12 participants with simultaneous GED and workforce skills instruction and support; PIP funds the adult education teacher and EWIB funds the vocational instructor. Technical skills, including nationally recognized software applications certifications, combined with a high school credential, qualify participants for in-demand employment above the minimum wage, resulting in faster labor market entry and greater economic selfsufficiency. Family Literacy • Windham Family Literacy Program: Expanded programming for families at our Windham Family Literacy Program through the addition of a civics program, an afternoon class for parents interested in English-as-aSecond Language (ESL) instruction, and a Saturday morning class for Spanish-speaking parents seeking their GED. Family literacy includes early childhood education (through Head Start, Early Head Start and local preschools) as well as interactive parent/child literacy activities.
• Early Head Start & Head Start: Provided 16 family literacy events in collaboration with the Connecticut Storytellers Association. Quality children’s literature was used for storytelling and story acting; children received a book to promote shared reading at home. • Arts in the Afternoon: Family literacy is a component of our Windham-based afterschool program, Arts in the Afternoon, located at a housing complex in Willimantic, where students receive homework assistance and arts-integrated academic remediation on a daily basis. Families are encouraged to join their children at the daily program and actively participate in monthly family activities designed to support family literacy.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELL)
Increasing numbers of new immigrants have moved to our region. Many have limited English language proficiency, a significant barrier to accessing continued education, vocational training and employment. Across the region, we see continually increasing enrollment in our English-as-aSecond-Language (ESL) classes, now including speakers of almost 40 different languages; our school districts report the same growth in the number of English language learners and the diversity of their first languages. There has been a historic and growing shortage of certified TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers to support students pre-K through adult, and limited resources for the specialized
“Thank you so much for this [afterschool] program. My daughter gets help every day with her homework, I don’t understand it, and gets to do fun things, plus I really like coming to the family events and learn about new things.” — Parent, Arts in the Afternoon, Windham “I am so excited to be enrolled in this customer service class. I am greeted with a friendly smile, and positive attitude every morning … I have learned about building rapport and trust, social skills, and dress code. I continue to use these skills in my daily life, in all social interactions. I have learned to pay attention to customer skills, and needs, which in turn made me realize when and how I am being treated wrong, or I should say incorrectly … One of the most important things I have learned is self respect, how to shine, not to give up, on my road to a career. … Honestly, this class has opened my eyes, my heart, and I portray a new attitude, and approach to my life, and of course my journey to finding and keeping a great job.” — Danielle Bailey, JFES Customer Service Student 10
Agency Goal #1 assessment and instructional materi Supporting Spanish Language How much did we do? als needed. We have responded by Readers providing professional development Contracted with a translator to provide More than 200 students to increase the capacity of educators ongoing Spanish language translation participated in one or more to instruct dual and English language services for critical agency documents, of our 34 ESL classes learners, and creating a regional conincluding Spanish-language student sortium where federal Title III funds applications for our 2 magnet high are pooled to increase the availability schools, also available online; and of materials and support to school districts. We are the major a parent letter that the Connecticut Physical Therapy provider of ESL Adult Education classes in the region, held Practice Act requires be translated for families whose at our regional adult learning centers and local community children receive physical therapy services. Also provided settings, including workplaces. Spanish language translation services for a member district. Adult English-as-a-SecondLanguage (ESL) Learners ESL instruction is provided at no cost to residents of the 21 communities that participate in our regional Adult Education Consortium. Command of the English language is often necessary for full participation in employment and community life. Our students face many obstacles; learning English 5 hours a week but using one’s native language at home presents challenges for reinforcing new learning. Most of our adult students have many family responsibilities, making additional class attendance difficult. • Student Enrollment: More than 200 students participated in one or more of our 34 ESL classes, which were offered at varying times, not only at our 2 regional adult learning centers in Willimantic and Danielson, but at community-based sites across the region, in an effort to increase access to classes by adult learners who have transportation and scheduling challenges. • Country of Origin: Students in our ESL classes come from 33 different countries. The majority are Latino, with 27% from Mexico, 23% from Puerto Rico and 6% from Guatemala. The remainder comes from across the world, including Afghanistan, Laos, Peru, Thailand and Turkey. Title III English Language Learners (ELL) Consortium Thirteen (13) districts participated in EASTCONN’s Title III ELL Consortium, enabling them access a funding source that they would not be able to access on their own. Through the Consortium, teachers were provided with professional development and access to resources to support the instruction of ELL students. The Consortium provided LAS Links testing materials and testing support, and facilitated a regional network of ELL teachers.
At EASTCONN’s Hampton Conference Center, U. S. Rep. Joe Courtney, center, met with a group that included EASTCONN Executive Director Paula M. Colen, far left, and EASTCONN Director of Early Childhood Initiatives Elizabeth Aschenbrenner to discuss mental-health-care challenges facing northeastern Connecticut residents and providers.
2012-2013 Challenges Cuts in Federal, State & Private Funding Funding to support most low-incidence populations falls short of documented needs as evidenced by periodic needs assessments and the waiting lists that programs generate. Pending and projected reductions in funding will exacerbate this gap. • Funding Cuts in Critical Areas of Need: An estimated 5.2% across-the-boards federal spending cut in educa-
“So often, we are faced with the challenge of educating our students outside the walls of our school district programs. So many factors enter into the decision making process when a team is working to provide an appropriate educational program for a student with challenges that are unique and sometimes unpredictable. We are so fortunate to have EASTCONN EVC so close by, almost in our neighborhood! We have several school options in our region, but few come close to providing the safe, caring, peaceful environment that EVC prides itself on.” – Ronni Zoback, Outplacement Coordinator, Windham Public Schools 11
Agency Goal #1 tion, due to sequestration, has reduced vital funding that want, balanced by their ability to pay. While we have tried is used to serve our most needy populations. The most to keep fees for our services to our member districts the significant cuts affect Title I, which provides funding to same, the cost of our operations has increased as our costs districts to meet the needs of have risen. This is further impactlow-income students, IDEA ed by the reduction in funding What difference did it make? funding for special education, that we used in the past to help Our Title III ELL Consortium enabled and Head Start, REAP funds, subsidize the cost of research, 13 districts to access a funding and more. development and delivery of new programs and services. source for English language – Federal Title III Funding: Reductions to federal Title III learners that they wouldn’t Vulnerable Populations funds are limiting our ability otherwise be able to access Impacted by Economic to provide supports to districts Conditions with low-incidence student Our struggling economy, and the under-employment and populations of English language learners (ELL): Title unemployment that have increased as a consequence, has III funds are pooled in our Regional ELL Consortium been especially difficult on many of the already vulnerand used to provide instructional and assessment supable, low-incidence populations that we serve in the ports to small districts with English language learners. northeastern region of Connecticut. Some services, though – Early Head Start: Center-based programs have an onsubsidized and available on a sliding-scale-fee basis, are going waiting list that is 3 times the number of spaces still out of reach for many fiscally challenged families. available and expansion to meet this need is not posIncreasingly, our participants have a need for multiple sible with current federal funding. Further reductions services, many of which we are not positioned to provide in programs and services are projected, once additional directly. Through alliances and collaborations with other funding cuts, as a result of the federal sequester, are local, regional and state service providers, we are trying to finalized. address this challenge.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014
Students in the Head Start program wouldn’t think of letting a little snow and cold weather stop them from playing house and enjoying their playground at Killingly High School.
Shrinking Local Resources As districts face rising costs with low/no increases in funding, they are seeking ways to save money so they can maximize resources that directly support student instruction. We are challenged by the need to offer programs and services at a level that our member districts need and
Increase Alliances & Collaborations with Other Service Providers Expand alliances and collaborations with other, local, regional and state service providers in order to increase our ability to respond to the growing need for multiple services for the region’s expanding low-incidence populations. Our struggling economy and the under-employment and unemployment that has increased as a consequence, has been especially difficult on the already vulnerable, lowincidence residents that we serve across northeastern Connecticut. Increasing Capacity While Reducing Costs Continue to create ways to more cost-effectively support low-incidence populations of students of all ages within the constraints of available funding. Among the strategies we will employ are: combining direct services with consultation/coaching that build the internal capacity of districts to provide these services themselves; establishing smaller, sub-regional programs located closer to districts to reduce the costs of transportation; facilitating collaborations between districts for shared programming
“Our center and the families we serve have received immeasurable benefit from the Birth to Three Program. The Birth to Three Program is of benefit to our center, our families, and our entire community as we see the next generation grow up strong and sharp, with a passion for life and excellence.” — Abigail Miller, Assistant Director Little Lights Learning Center 12
Agency Goal #1 and staffing; embedding programming in-district; and increasing the use of technology for the delivery of services. Technology Enhancements Continue building our technology capacity both for the delivery of programs and to support the technology capacitybuilding in our districts. This includes enhancements of hardware/infrastructure, software, and skill development to support online learning and assessments, mobile computing and other technological advancements.
divide is largely a socio-economic issue, so many of our economically disadvantaged participants are particularly impacted. • Online Assessment: – Moving to online, statewide, high-stakes testing in 2014-2015 is creating significant challenges for all of our districts. This will impact districts’ infrastructure capacity, hardware capacity and will require districts to provide more training and support to students to enable them to successfully engage in an online testing environment.
Maximizing Data & Other Resources Across the – Online GED Testing: The GED test will move from Agency paper-and-pencil to online delivery in January 2014. Focus on effectively “mining” and using existing cohorts Many of our adult students, particularly those 30 years of agency program data that can inform the services of of age and older, are unfamiliar and often uncomfortother agency programs and able with technology. They will tap specialized expertise be especially impacted by this How well did we do? within programs to benefit change. participants in other areas. By “It’s about reliability — a core value asking our participants, “What that we ... deeply respect in our • Mobile Technology Growth: else does your family need?” relationship with EASTCONN” Proliferation of tablet and smartwe may be able to direct more phone technology is creating a resources from within the new technology environment for agency and beyond, to better teachers and students and will ensure successful outcomes require districts to rethink teaching and learning in a 24/7 for all our direct services participants, from young children educational world. It is also changing the way we comthrough adults. municate with our constituents. Strategic Utilization of Facilities Complete the analysis of projected capacities and needs Supporting & Promoting Dual Language of our facilities during the next program year. Some of Learning our programs, which serve low-incidence populations, are Global realities suggest that world language competence limited by existing program-site layouts and infrastructure; is more important than ever, but at the same time, world some of those issues will be addressed through site language instruction is being cut at districts across the reconfiguration, expansion (such as the Quinebaug Middle nation; concurrently, more dual language learners are College building project at Quinebaug Valley Community enrolling in our schools, particularly in northeastern ConCollege) or the acquisition of additional sites (such as the necticut schools. We need to find ways to help our districts planned expansion of the EVC/NRP program to a third both support English language learners and promote dual location). language ability, so that all of our students have the skills Technology Implications As the transition to online learning and assessments escalates across divisions in the agency, there are many challenges, including: hardware, software and bandwidth; the need to develop the skills of our staff to work effectively with new technology; and the need to help program participants of all ages access digital learning. The digital
they need to function effectively as global citizens.
“Finding a teammate you can work with and count on day in and day out is easier said than done. Finding one who truly shares your vision regarding the value of customers and employees is rare; finding one who can learn from the past, who can accept the fact that problems will (inevitably) arise in the future – and who can see those problems not as insurmountable obstacles but as challenges that need to be overcome is rarer still. It’s all about reliability - a core value that we at TVCCA deeply respect in our relationship with EASTCONN and is a major factor in the success we have enjoyed in the many projects on which we have collaborated.” — David Yovaisis, Chief Development Officer, TVCCA 13
Agency Goal #2 To respond strategically to new, emerging and expanding needs of present and future customers
OVERVIEW Our customers’ needs change continually and it is essential that we monitor data, trends and research, so that we are proactively building our capacity to best support them. Each year, we pilot or implement many new programs and services, as well as commit ourselves to the continuous improvement of all of our existing programs and services. In addition, we are always seeking new customers who might benefit from what we offer, particularly where increases in enrollment and participation decrease costs for all.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments NEW PROGRAMS, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Supporting the Transition to Smarter Balanced Assessment • Assessment Forum: Attended by 83 educators representing 31 districts, EASTCONN’s Assessment Forum provided attendees with critical information about the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment from Shelbi Cole, Director of Mathematics for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Additionally, participants received information from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Renaissance Learning around their student assessment systems. • Conducting Assessment Audits: Offered a menu of services, from the purchase of an on-site, comprehensive assessment audit to workshops on conducting your own audit, in support of our districts’ need to evaluate their current assessments as they implement the Common Core State Standards and the new state Educator Evaluation system.
– 8 districts attended a workshop delivered by Dr. Barbara Beaudin, former Associate Commissioner
Math expert Shelbi Cole shares critical information with educators during a Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. for the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), where they learned a process for conducting comprehensive district assessment audits, enabling them to analyze current assessment practices and systems in order to make more informed decisions that improve their assessment practices.
“I wanted to take a minute to thank you for all the support you have given me since I arrived in Windham. Your work assisting me … [with the Alliance Grant and SEED Technical Assistance] … has made my job much more manageable … Your collaboration, knowledge in many content areas and constant accessibility have been superior. I always know that if I call or e-mail you for assistance, you will get back to me immediately. Frankly, you are the best teammate I have had during my tenure here.” — Kathleen E. England, Assistant Superintendent, Windham Public Schools “If I haven’t said it before, you folks have been great walking alongside us, and one or two steps ahead on this challenging initiative.” — Scott Nierendorf, Principal, Marlborough Elementary School 14
Agency Goal #2
– Conducted 4 assessment audits for districts in our region, resulting in important information about the quality of assessment within each district and enabling them to make decisions about improving their systems. • Progress Over Time/Growth Index Assessment Models: Developed a growth index to measure progress over time, using the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Framework. This metric, aligned to the state’s model, can be adopted by districts for use as a Student Learning Objective (SLO) in the evaluation of teachers.
Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) ECHIP is completing its first full year of operation with 11 members, a board of directors and administrative staffing, provided under contract to EASTCONN. By joining ECHIP, members saw significant savings. EASTCONN received a planning grant from CSDE to expand ECHIP What difference did it make? membership.
this change with an online GED test beginning in January 2014 and a growing number of skills-training certifications being conducted online. This trend will expand as online Smarter Balanced Assessments are implemented in 20142015. • GED Testing: In preparation for the January 2014 transition to online GED testing, we have qualified as a Pearson VUE authorized test center, allowing our students to continue accessing the test locally; Pearson VUE is the creator of the new online GED test. • Authorized Certiport Testing Center Certification: The Northeast Learning Center [NLC], serving adult learners from the Danielson region, has attained Certiport Certification, allowing us to provide testing and certification services in a number of high-demand computer applications, including Adobe and Microsoftuser certifications. Previously, access to services was limited to those able to travel significant distances to other testing sites.
“EASTCONN is the one single organization that has made all the difference in our school and district improvements ...”
ACT Student Entrepreneurs ACT began offering a new course, Community Video Production, in which students create advertising and marketing videos for local community businesses, to be broadcast on local Channel 14 and cable TV stations. In the first 6 weeks of the course, students secured 8 contracts from Willimantic-area businesses for the creation of marketing videos, including Café Mantic, A Cupcake for Later, the Willimantic Food Coop and Main Street Café. Online Testing Preparations and Certifications As more assessment testing moves to online platforms, we are preparing in a number of ways, including: ensuring that we have the hardware, software and technical support in place; teaching our staff how to administer and support online assessments; and preparing our students to participate successfully in online tests. We are also securing certifications, as needed, to become authorized online testing centers. Our adult programs are the first to experience
Back-Office Support Districts are seeking more cost-effective ways to support administrative functions, so that scarce funding can be used to directly support classroom instruction. • CSDE Planning Grant: Were awarded a grant from CSDE to promote regional cooperation and backoffice support was selected as an area of interest by superintendents in our region. • Fiscal Management Support: Provided fiscal management services to one of our smaller districts, including accounts payable and payroll functions. The district reported that they have increased efficiencies, while also reducing the cost of these operations. • Personnel Recruitment Services: Assisted a member district in the hiring of key central office and magnet school staff. We created and placed ads, then screened and interviewed candidates, allowing district personnel to focus on final selection decisions.
“EASTCONN’S extensive support, well-trained and knowledgeable staff, variety of workshops, and affordability, continue to be the keys to the pathway of school improvement at Mary R. Fisher Elementary School. We have progressed into a staff that has formed a partnership with EASTCONN. Teachers look forward to attending the professional development workshops on a monthly basis due to the key information necessary that will make positive changes in instruction and student achievement. We feel that with EASTCONN’S support, their understanding of our needs have made real connections [for] all of us, our school and [our] district. The education ‘landscape’ is changing so quickly and these changes are of such magnitude, as a small district, we alone would be unable to keep up to the demands resulting from these mandates. … In my opinion, … EASTCONN is the one single organization that has made all the difference in our school and district improvements. In closing, for all of the aforementioned reasons, we are deeply grateful to EASTCONN and consider EASTCONN our extraordinary partner in education and an invaluable resource that has helped us grow immeasurably as a learning community.” — Noveline Beltram, Principal, Mary R. Fisher Elementary School, Thompson 15
Agency Goal #2 • Marketing & Communications Support: Assisted Windham Public Schools with preparations for opening the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, through student recruitment marketing and promotions support, including market analysis, advertising plans, promotional and collateral materials, and exhibit equipment; the district was able to meet its application targets and deadlines. Food Services Established a new food services program and began participating in the national School Lunch Program in response to the needs of students in our schools, the majority of whom qualify for free or reduced lunches. A newly renovated kitchen, located in one of our program facilities, now serves as the hub of our Food Services operation, where all catering for EASTCONN events and nearly 180 school breakfasts and lunches are prepared daily. In addition to providing nutritious meals, our food services offers food-industry related work-study opportunities for our students.
Residency/Truancy investigator Don Skewes, left, chats with Voluntown Elementary School Principal Alicia Dawe, whose district has benefited from Skewes’ investigative skills. Residency and Truancy Services Seven (7) of the region’s districts have purchased services from our Residency/Truancy Officer, a retired police detective with extensive experience with juveniles and their families. With an average case completion time of 7 days and a 100% resolution rate for more than 50 residency/truancy issues in the first half of the school year, the Residency/Truancy officer has been an invaluable resource, ensuring that each truant student receives the individualized support necessary to return to school. Among the student challenges that were addressed were ensuring that proper care was sought for medical issues and arranging transportation when a parent was chronically ill. Parent involvement was strongly encouraged and students were frequently referred for appropriate supplemental services. The resolution of residency issues has resulted in savings of thousands of dollars to participating districts.
The agency’s Food Services coordinator demonstrates proper cutting technique for an EASTCONN work-study student. “Year after year, EASTCONN provides our area of the state with a level of service that informs and educates public school personnel through focused action and collaborative planning.” — Francine Coss, Superintendent, Columbia School System “I just wanted to thank you again for all of your terrific help in making the Agriculture Commission Conference a success this past Saturday. The room was just perfect for the group size and conference approach, and the food was tremendous. I look forward to working with you on next year’s conference, as well as the Soil Health workshops in April.” — John Guszkowski, Agvocate Group “Over the last couple of weeks I have been working with [staff] to create graphics based on the PAF [Preschool Assessment Framework] Cycle 1 and 2 data for this school year. I am very impressed with the quality of work … and the speed of transactions to move this work forward. Terrific!” — Dr. Barbara Beaudin, Curriculum Consultant, EASTCONN 16
Agency Goal #2
EXPANDING SERVICES AND /OR NEW CUSTOMERS FOR EXISTING SERVICES
customers elected either to purchase additional services and/or add additional sites.
Pyschological/Behavioral Services Expansion Lighthouse Project Improvements As the number of students with psychological and Used EDGE, our new business intelligence software, to behavioral challenges has provide the CSDE with an increased, so has demand for enhanced suite of reporting How much did we do? clinical staff, and EASTCONN’s and analysis tools for the school psychologists, Board Grew from serving 3 districts to Lighthouse Project; this Certified Behavior Analysts project helps Boards of 14 districts with psychological/ (BCBAs), and staff trained in Education become more behavioral consultation services Positive Behavioral Interventions proficient in the use of and professional development and Supports (PBIS) are welldata for systemic district qualified to provide the expertise improvement. The new needed to support to school staff software enables greater in these areas. customization of reports and provides more efficient access to survey results through a secure, Web-based • Grew from serving 3 districts to 14 districts with portal; added a data analyst to our team to support the consultation services and professional development; customization of customer reporting. districts included Canterbury, Chaplin, Eastford, Griswold, Mansfield, Plainfield, Pomfret, Sprague, Expanded Facilities Services Tolland, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Willington and As one of the few certified providers of hazardous materiWindham. als testing in school facilities, we continued to expand the • Provided professional development to ConnCASE, our customer base for our testing and planning services. This region’s association of special education administrators year, new customers included 2 Connecticut community • Six (6) districts accessed our assessment and evaluation colleges housing middle college programs; several existing services. • Four (4) districts received assistance in the development of autism services in the home, and professional development for para-professionals, special education teachers and school psychologists. • Provided professional development in PBIS, full school psychology services, supervision of BCBA interns and systems analyses for psychological/behavioral services. Expanding Assistive Technology (AT) Services The AT team continues to expand its range of services and clients served: Testers review notes on hazardous materials reporting forms.
• Service Package Expansion: This year, Griswold, Sprague, Plainfield and Woodstock, as well as
“The IT staff at EASTCONN … continues to be an effective, responsive, and essential partner in the development, maintenance, and refinement of CTcurriculum.org, one of the Connecticut State Department of Education’s most innovative and longest-standing initiatives … [and] a powerful platform for clarifying state and national standards. EASTCONN staff has been responsive in ensuring that the site is updated as each new set of standards is adopted, including the Common Core State Standards … EASTCONN staff has played an essential role in each step of the continuing development, refinement, and implementation of CTcurriculum.org. [You have] been a partner in the design process, involving staff as needed to oversee subcontractors and ensure that bugs are corrected promptly … EASTCONN immediately recognized the educational value of this work and has consistently lent it the visionary and technically skilled support necessary to bring it to fruition. Thanks to EASTCONN, the site has been cited as a national model for the development and dissemination of curriculum and assessment. As I have traveled around the world, I am constantly surprised at the number of educators who tell me that they have accessed and used the site. Indeed, our Connecticut partnership with Massachusetts and Pennsylvania on Common Arts Assessments is built largely on our ability to use this site to store work and bridge distance. We all owe EASTCONN great thanks for this important work.” — Scott C. Shuler, Ph.D., Arts Consultant, CSDE Bureau of Accountability and Improvement 17
Agency Goal #2 EASTCONN’s Educational and Vocational Center (EVC) and Northeast Regional Program (NRP) have purchased new or expanded AT service packages for training, assessment, Lending Library and/or implementation of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students. • Tech Tools and Training: Promoted the increased use of tablet technology to enhance student access to learning and provided training sessions on the uses of iPads in education and for communications and skills development.
2012-2013 Challenges Changing Mandates • Education Reform: A plethora of legislative mandates in education has required that districts spend a great deal of time and resources in the development of systems, programs and capacity to prepare for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a new teacher evaluation system and new computer-based student testing under development by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Each mandate brings to districts’ leadership a new level of complexity and strain on resources; we are working to create support mechanisms and models for implementation of mandates for our region’s districts, as well as for our own magnet schools and special education programs.
Common Core of Teaching (CCT)-based rubric that required us to redeploy and reassign staff resources from across the agency in support of this project. On a related note, EASTCONN staff helped advocate for an extension of the teacher evaluation system for adult educators to allow for the development of a system that better fits the delivery of Adult Education. • Food Services: In addition to the normal growing pains associated with a brand new operation, the Food Services Program faced changes in state food service requirements and standards. Increasing our Staff Capacity • Staff Developers/Coaches: Districts are implementing new evaluation, assessment and curriculum initiatives that require intensive professional development and support. As a result, demand for services, particularly for embedded in-district coaching, has sometimes exceeded our capacity to respond.
Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) students joined leaders from EASTCONN and Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) in Danielson to break ground for an addition, scheduled for completion in 2014. The addition will serve both QMC and QVCC students, who will share the new spaces.
Seven (7) info sessions on new teacher and administrator evaluation mandates drew educators from across the region. – Educator Evaluation & Support: Districts faced short timeframes for the design and submission of their educator evaluation plans; we responded with professional development and resources, including a
• Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) Expansion: QMC reached full capacity in 2012-2013 and had to establish a wait-list of students that was equivalent in number to 50% of the current student population. Until the new building is completed in 2014, demand for slots will exceed their availability. • Truancy & Residency: Demand for the services of our Truancy and Residency officer quickly exceeded our capacity to respond. Until additional staff is available, we will be limited in our ability to respond to new requests.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea [the Residency and Truancy Program] and I’m just thrilled to have access to it. The positive outcome is that were not taking in children that don’t live in our district, so we’re not using resources for students that aren’t ours. It’s very difficult for us to go out and figure whether someone really lives here. [EASTCONN] helps us sort that out.” — Special Education Director Elaine Lee, Voluntown Public Schools 18
Agency Goal #2 learning opportunities and planning for college/career readiness. • School Leadership: Expand our offerings for administrators and teacher-leaders through a variety of in-person, blended and online professional learning opportunities.
Finance Department staff can coordinate the delivery of back-office support to small districts and other organizations, which benefit from the cost savings.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 Regional Collaborative Administrative Support Assist our districts with finding more cost-effective, collaborative approaches to administrative functions as they continue to face low- or no-budget increases; districts will be able to apply savings to the direct support of classroom instruction. • Back-Office Functions: Provide more regional staff support for payroll management, accounts payable/receivable and staff recruitment, etc. • Regional Health Collaborative: Continue our efforts to expand ECHIP, the regional health insurance cooperative, as a strategy for managing health care costs for ECHIP members. Program Creation/Expansion Plans • Student Assessment Support: Continue developing a range of services for districts to support their creation of comprehensive assessment systems that align with new core standards and the new educator evaluation and support system. Planned services include assessment audits and regional assessment development sessions to create assessments aligned with CCSS. • Expanding High School Choice in the Region: Explore collaborative opportunities among towns in the EASTCONN region to create a regional high school choice program for our students. The new choice program would facilitate shared support and stakeholder collaboration around a diverse range of issues related to school improvement, professional learning, enhanced student
Interdistrict Grant programs continued to expand students’ understanding of diversity, while introducing them to new ideas, new academic challenges and friends from different schools. • Food Services: Establish a school garden and participation in the Farm-to-School program, providing snacks for our after-school programs; and expand operations into an additional location to more easily accommodate services to all educational programs. There are also plans to establish a community restaurant, to provide students with new work-study opportunities that will enable them to acquire practical experiences and skills as they engage in all aspects of operating a restaurant. The expansion of the Free and Reduced Lunch program to member districts will also be explored. • Investigative/Security Services: Consider the expansion of Truancy and Residency services, based both on inquiries from our region’s districts and on a growing focus on school safety. The expansion would include a broader mix of investigative services, as well as safety awareness strategies and the implementation of safety procedures and products, ensuring that all staff and students attend school in the safest possible environments. • Health Care Skills Training: Plan a series of new workshops on health care-related topics that combine training with summer sessions. The health care industry continues to offer expanding employment opportunities locally, but training was previously available only in western Connecticut, making it largely inaccessible to job-seekers in our region.
Agency Goal #3 To improve outcomes for all learners in collaboration with our educational and community partners
OVERVIEW In collaboration with our member districts, we monitor education research developments and best practice, and connect those that appear most promising to the unique needs of our region. We provide assistance, as requested, in the application of research into practice in local classrooms through professional development, modeling and coaching. We also help member districts manage their data systems so that changes in student outcomes can be monitored and evaluated. Partnerships and collaborations with our member districts are an essential foundation of our work; this is especially important in a region with many small, rural districts and few resources. Building on our long history of voluntary collaboration in northeastern Connecticut, EASTCONN facilitates resource-sharing and engages community, state and federal partners in an effort to find joint solutions to shared problems, whether in schools, in families or in the broader community.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments RESEARCH-TO-PRACTICE IMPROVING LEARNER OUTCOMES Partners in Parenting Education (PIPE) Expansion Early Head Start has expanded the implementation of the evidenced-based, Partners in Parenting Education (PIPE) Curriculum to all program sites. PIPE is built on the premise that interventions designed to effect better outcomes for children need to include components that strengthen the parent-child relationship, since the parent is the most consistent and pervasive force shaping children’s lives. • All EASTCONN Early Head Start programs participated in professional development delivered by the Denverbased Clayton Family Center in the use of PIPE strategies during home visits and socializations; the 14 participants included home visitors, parent educators and education managers.
Early childhood providers from across the EASTCONN region employ newfound strategies for teaching math during a CCSS-based workshop taught by a renowned math expert. • Recent data analysis comparing the quality and fidelity of services during “family connections time” indicated that the Early Head Start program staff increased their ability to explain by 19%, coach by 35%, and process
“This school has changed me for the better because this school has a tight sense of community with the Code of Ethics that people follow. I think I follow the Code of Ethics in my own way - I help others and try to be respectful. I have college goals, and I want to get in as many classes as I can. I am currently taking college classes along with my regular high school classes. My communication with teachers will continue to be very good because I work well with them.” – M., QMC Student “You can watch yourself make improvements from year to year.” – A., High School Student, Skills for Success Interdistrict Grant 20
Agency Goal #3 the PIPE implementation by 31%. In addition, parent uptake increased by 28% with Early Head Start families. Improvements were also demonstrated by the Basic Head Start program; of note were a 25% increase in explaining the concept to the parent, a 15% increase in coaching, and a 13% increase in processing.
students taking AP exams, while targeting an increase in the number of under-represented students in AP classes, including minority and economically disadvantaged students. Student outcomes have received national attention: • This year, the number of students enrolled in AP classes increased 11%, from 4,758 to 5,277.
Improving Executive Functioning & Early • Saturday student support sessions have been attended by Language/Literacy Skills 1,135 students in English, 1,544 in science and 1,997 in We continued with a second year of the Scaffolding math, to date. Early Learning (ScEL) project, designed to improve executive functioning and • 4,483 exams were taken across early language/literacy 23 schools in math, English skills in young children, in What difference did it make? and science and 2,047 received collaboration with the Denverpassing scores of 3 or higher There was a 13.65% increase in the based Mid-continent Research for a pass rate of 45.66%. This number of Advanced Placement for Education and Learning represented an increase in passing scores (McREL) group. Classroom exams taken in 2011 by 9.26%. participation increased by • There was a 13.65% increase 240% in year 2, and year 1 in the number of passing scores evaluation results showed from 2011. significant gains in language skills among preschool children in the participating classrooms. Teen Outreach Program (TOP) at Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) A grant-funded Teen Outreach Program (TOP) was established in response to the high rate of teen pregnancy in the northeastern region. According to data provided by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, 5 communities in the EASTCONN region are among the 23 communities that have exceeded the state average for births to teen mothers, and 2 of these communities are among 12 that consistently exceed the state average for births to teens. In its first year at QMC, 49 teens participated in our TOP program, part of a national network of resources and programs that seek to support and serve teens through evidenced-based best practices. Project Opening Doors/Advanced Placement (AP) Support Led the statewide Project Opening Doors AP initiative by providing project management services, as well as professional development and technical assistance, to 23 Connecticut high schools, 5 of which are in the EASTCONN region. The project goal was to increase AP enrollment and improve the success rate for all
EASTCONN staff provided in-depth information for school administrators on the state’s new educator evaluation system. Educator Evaluation in Non-Pilot Districts More than 80 administrators and teachers from over 30 districts attended a series of 7 workshops on Connecticut’s new Educator Evaluation system. EASTCONN staff provided in-depth information on the 4 components of the evaluation system and facilitated work sessions to assist districts in developing their own evaluation
“Project Opening Doors has been such a wonderful addition to the Windham’s AP programs these past 4 years!! We appreciate all that the program has done for both our students and teachers. The Biology, APES, Chemistry and Physics courses have improved greatly with the content and type of instruction since POD has been working with Windham. I personally have grown as a teacher in Biology and Environmental Science with the Summer Workshops and the Saturday sessions. It has also been great meeting so many wonderful teachers in other districts and sharing ideas. We all have enjoyed working along Eloise Farmer and Bob Segall these past years. Their time and effort in organizing activities for our students was greatly appreciated and made a big difference in the academic lives of Windham students and teachers. I truly wish the POD grant and its great teachers would continue, it/they will be sorely missed. Thank you again, — Jane Carey-Lyon, AP Biology and AP Environmental Science Teacher, Windham High School 21
Agency Goal #3 systems as required by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE). Developed a Common Core of Teaching-based (CCT) rubric that was shared with our member districts.
State-Level Leadership • Early Childhood – Served on the Connecticut Special Education Professional Development Committee, which is charged with recommending the professional development and standards for providers of special education and related services. – Participated in the development of the draft Early Learning and Development Guidelines; staff also served on the Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet Early Learning Guidelines Workgroup. – Managed the Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet budget in collaboration with the Cabinet Steering Committee. – Served on the preK-to-Grade 3 State Leadership Team, promoting coherence across programs and grade levels to close gaps in preparation and achievement.
Interdistrict Grants helped thousands of CT’s K-12 students engage in academic excellence, while connecting with peers.
• Teaching & Learning /Technology – Served on the statewide Performance Expectations Advisory Council (PEAC).
Interdistrict Grants Impact Thousands of – Served on the Advisory Committee for the Connecticut Students Enhanced State Science Assessment Project (CT Our approach to the 24 ESSAP) to provide guidance for Interdistrict Grants funded in CSDE and Connecticut districts 2012-2013 has been recogon transitioning to the new How much did we do? nized as an exemplary model national science standards. of effective integration of Interdistrict Grants benefited 3,500+ – Participated in the Connecticut multi-cultural education and students, grades 2-12, and 103 Enhanced State Science core disciplinary studies. The educators from 33 different districts Assessment Project (CT ESSAP) grants have benefited 3,500+ to develop new assessment items students, grades 2-12, and 103 aligned with the Next Generation educators from 33 different Science Standards. districts by bringing them together in exciting learning – Served on the Steering explorations, in collaboraCommittee for the Connecticut Green Leaf Schools tion with university and college faculty, and guest experts Program, which helps schools become green and reflecting all core discipline studies; 90% of students healthy places to learn, work and thrive. This is a increased their understanding of bullying, acceptance and collaborative effort of the Connecticut departments respect of others, and showed an appreciation of diverse of Construction Services, Education, Energy and peoples. In the area of content knowledge, 80% of students Environmental Protection, and Public Health overall showed an increase in content knowledge specific – Was a member of the CSDE Educator Evaluation to the academic area of the grants in which they were Development Team that provided guidance and involved. coordinated the implementation of the state’s new System for Education Evaluation and Development (SEED) model. “I can make a difference by recycling reducing, and reusing to keep our environment clean.” — 3rd grade student, Heroes and Heroines Interdistrict Grant “Students were able to learn about letter writing … They also met children from other backgrounds. They were able to visit a university to see what it is like and meet people and see things they might do someday.” — 3rd grade teacher, Heroes and Heroines Interdistrict Grant “I learned to always go back and read what you write.” 22
— 2nd grade student, Imagination Connections Interdistrict Grant
Agency Goal #3 • Adult Programs – Participated on a task force of adult educators recommending modifications to the Connecticut Educator Evaluation program to better address the unique challenges associated with evaluating certified adult educators; also served on a statewide taskforce for the new GED. – Presented at the Collaboration Conference for CollegeGoing Adults at Central Connecticut State University. – 4 members of the Adult Programs staff presented at the annual Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE). • Educational Services – 2 members of the Assistive Technology (AT) team participated in the statewide Task Force rewriting the Assistive Technology Guidelines for AT Service Delivery in Connecticut. – Staff served on the writing committee of the Physical Education Teacher Evaluation Development Team, which is constructing standards for teacher evaluation.
COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIPS Member District Collaborations • Regional Collaboration around Quality Enhancement: 13 school districts that receive School Readiness funding met to discuss ways in which to maximize the use of CSDE Quality Enhancement funds. In a coordinated effort with EASTCONN,
administrators shared ideas, suggestions and ways to collaborate on training and coaching that address the educational qualifications of teachers/teacher assistants, accreditation, intentional teaching, professional development plans and family outreach. • CCSS Math Consortium and CCSS ELA Consortium: 19 districts and 139 educators participated in 2 CCSS Consortiums; one for ELA and one for math. EASTCONN staff and national experts provided a series of professional development sessions for teachers and administrators that resulted in a deeper understanding of the standards and the implications for the instructional changes and assessment that will be needed as the new standards are implemented in classrooms. Such regional collaboration effects a significant reduction in the redundancy of effort. • Collaborative Special Education Programming: Partnered with our sending districts to create a dualpronged approach to the provision of special education programming in our region that combines collaborative capacity-building at the local level to retain/return students to the least-restrictive environment, with highquality, center-based, regional programming for those students better served in a high-support environment. This effort is expected to provide an expanded continuum of services closer to home. The improvement of teaching, learning and resources is a priority in all our regional programs and schools for students with special needs, and our sending districts are key partners in the design and delivery of educational services. – Capacity-Building & Transition Services: EASTCONN offered a community-based, transitional educational program and individualized transition services for students with disabilities, 18-to-21-yearsold, located in EASTCONN’s Northeast Learning Center among community adult learners. The program provided a transition curriculum taught and reinforced through natural, community-based experiences, including vocational training, social skills, community access and travel, financial management, health, wellness and safety, and independent living. – Regional Programs:
Forums for partnering with peers influence teachers’ classroom success as they strive to improve student outcomes.
w Northeast Regional Program (NRP)/Educational and Vocational Center (EVC): A program of continuous improvement is in place, resulting in full enrollment and the planned opening of a third
“EASTCONN plays a critical role in designing and delivering quality professional development to the early childhood workforce. The State Department of Education is pleased to be a collaborative partner with EASTCONN because their expertise, dedication, and ability to coordinate quality professional development make a difference in the quality of the PD. I feel learners walk away with increased understanding of the content and ready to apply those new understandings in their workplace. Enhancing practice to make a difference in the lives of children and families is an underlying goal of any effective professional development and I feel EASTCONN has the expertise to actualize such a goal.” — Deborah S. Adams, Ph.D., Education Consultant, CSDE 23
Agency Goal #3 program site in Plainfield. Combined data-based instructional and behavioral intervention strategies for academic learning with high nurturance of personal responsibility, productive relationships and vocational learning opportunities. Partnered with several community agencies to ensure that students and families receive coordinated, effective services and support. As a result of the effectiveness of these programs, 100% of the high school students in these programs have had successful vocational placements in their communities, and several students are planning transitions from the programs to their home districts or to magnet schools. w Regional Autism Program: Provided comprehensive educational and behavioral services to 7 students in partnership with 5 sending districts, including the phased transition of one student back to the home school. w ACT & Natchaug Elementary School: Natchaug kindergarten teachers and ACT arts staff collaborated to create learning opportunities; kindergarteners interacted with ACT high school students as they used art in their learning. Collaboration with Post-Secondary Institutions • Transition to College: A Transition Advisory Committee comprising representatives from EASTCONN, Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) and the state Department of Labor was formed this year to develop strategies that facilitate access to postHow well did we do? secondary education by
QMC’s $22 million addition on the QVCC campus will create new spaces and new opportunities for collaboration. (ECSU), providing students with the opportunity to partner with college students in the production of interpretive pieces of art. Free public performances were the culminating activities, which allowed students to experience authentic assessment. ECSU has chosen to re-apply for “The Big Read” grant for an additional year, and has asked ACT to collaborate again.
• QMC/QVCC: A new building is under construction on the QVCC campus to house the expanding QMC student body, now at full enrollment with 111 students from 17 different sending districts, and a waiting list of 53. The new building will provide resources and opportunities for the creation of new educational opportunities and collaborations 100% of our high school students with the QVCC community. Two had successful vocational (2) new partner districts, Pomfret placements and Voluntown, joined the QMC board, bringing the total to 10 districts.
those with barriers to traditional educational pathways. Among the joint ventures are new classes offered through a collaboration between QVCC and the EWIB. As a result, students will have access to “bridge” classes that will more cost-effectively prepare them for the college-level credit classes they must complete to achieve academic success at QVCC.
• “The Big Read”: ACT students participated in “The Big Read” with Eastern Connecticut State University
Community-Based Partnerships • Community-Based Adult Basic Education Classes: In response to the transportation challenges and other barriers that our adult students encounter, we are bringing classes into more communities. – Formed a new partnership with the Caleb Group, a
“Working with EASTCONN to provide continuous quality improvement has been very productive over the past 2 ½ years. Managers and staff have been eager to improve their understanding of frameworks that we have introduced in order to provide the highest quality data. The collaboration has grown and in many instances the use of technical assistance has been strong and consistent. On our end, the graduate students have all learned a vast amount about how Early Head Start and Head Start programs operate to serve the needs of families. They have become more seasoned and skillful in the collaboration based on feedback from staff and families. We hope that the conference presentations that we have organized collaboratively with EASTCONN staff have both enhanced the profile of the organization but also have produced stimulating ideas to the broader community.” – JoAnn L. Robinson, Ph.D., Professor, Associate Dept. Head for Graduate Studies, Director of Early Childhood Education and Early Intervention, Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, UConn 24
Agency Goal #3 low-income housing provider, resulting in 2 new, on-site classes in Danielson and Willimantic, providing GED, Spanish GED and English-as-a-SecondLanguage (ESL) instruction for more than 20 students who were previously unable to attend due to their lack of transportation. – A new partnership with Stafford-based Safe Net will enable us to offer our National External Diploma Program [NEDP] at a more accessible and adult-learner friendly location. Previously, classes were held at Stafford High School, a location that was difficult to access through public transportation and potentially less welcoming to students with previously negative public school experiences. Outreach is in process and enrollment will be completed by June.
State Level Partnerships • Statewide Early Childhood Training Development & Coordination: Collaborated with the CSDE in the design and coordinated delivery of a statewide professional development initiative that promotes intentional teaching and the new Early Learning and Development Standards; more than 500 participants from across the state attended the 14 sessions. Intentionally teaching to the Early Learning Standards promotes consistency for children across early childhood settings, leading to higher-quality learning experiences and greater school success.
• Collaborative Preventative Health Screenings: Preventive health screenings are now offered at our Community Learning Center in Willimantic through a new collaboration with Generations, an affordable family health care center. Our students now have easy and convenient access to preventive health care services; to date, 16 students have accessed services. • Museum Collaboration: Collaborated with our region’s Museum and Historical Society network to build the teaching and programming competencies of professionals and volunteers working in 40 small, eastern Connecticut museums. Our collaboration, Museums as Teachers of History, brings together an alliance of 50 small museums to provide professional development workshops and technical assistance, designed to improve the teaching competencies of museum professionals and volunteers. Our region’s educators will benefit by gaining access to a wealth of authentic learning resources that will enliven their American history and social studies courses; and most importantly, students will benefit by gaining new understanding, knowledge and appreciation for our region’s contributions to the story of democracy in America. • Community Links to Special Education Programs: This year, our special education programs continued their partnership with several community agencies, including Connecticut Health Resources (CHR); Community Services; the Connecticut branch of the North American Family Institute (NAFI); Connecticut State Police; Juvenile Probation; United Services; and Generations to ensure that students and their families are receiving necessary services that are coordinated and effective.
The statewide TEAM program, developed and coordinated by EASTCONN, supports new teachers, provides professional development and focuses on increasing classroom successes. • Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM): – Statewide Coordination: Provided statewide coordination on behalf of the CSDE for the development and implementation of their TEAM program, which provides support and professional development to beginning teachers and their mentors. Developed a new professional growth module focused on the Common Core of Teaching (CCT). – Statewide Trainings: Developed and delivered training that supports both mentors and reviewers: w 21 Trainings for New Mentors with a total of 595 teachers. w 97 Trainings for TEAM Mentor Updates with a total of 2,837 participants. w 11 Trainings for Initial Reviewers with 246 participants. w 33 Trainings for Reviewer Updates with 965 participants. w 6 District Facilitator Meetings with 169 participants.
“I have been most remiss in not informing you of how much I appreciate you and the services your agency offers to my high school students. As you know our school is located in a very rural area and the [Interdistrict Grant, ‘Growing Green Ideas’] workshops that you provide not only educate my students in core subjects and life skills, but also allow them an opportunity to become aware of how people conduct their lives in other parts of the country ... Again, thank you and your agency for all you do for my school and all the other schools in the surrounding region!” — Jerri Tarr, Family and Consumer Science Department, Parish Hill Middle/High School 25
Agency Goal #3 – Evaluation: Through an EASTCONN-developed Economic and Community Development, we ran a 15RFP process, EASTCONN secured a vendor to week program for 36 low-income 18-to-25-year-olds in conduct an evaluation of the TEAM program. two locations: Willimantic and Danielson. The program Among the findings was the following: “Responses offered work experience in Connecticut state parks, across all stakeholder groups suggest that TEAM like trail clearing and recreational fixture construction, is a valuable induction tool that provides a system combined with training in First-Aid, Safe Pesticide Use, of support focused on professional growth and Invasive Plants, OSHA 10, and Power Tool Safety. Sixtyreflective practice. Additionally, mentors reported one percent (61%) successfully completed the program saying that serving as a TEAM mentor has positively with 44% entering unsubsidized employment and 76% contributed to their own classroom teaching.” successfully attaining 2 or more certifications. • System for Educator Evaluation and Development • Glasser Institute Conference: EASTCONN and (SEED) Data Management System: On behalf of LEARN co-sponsored this the CSDE, EASTCONN year’s Spring Conference of developed a statewide RFP the Northeast Chapter of the How much did we do? for securing a vendor to William Glasser Institute, titled, This year, 1,059 candidates provide a data management “Relation-Based Leadership system to support the registered to take the CAT test in Classrooms, Schools, and implementation of SEED through us and we supervised the Beyond.” QMC staff and in the pilot districts. students were panelists and scoring of 2,264 test modules EASTCONN awarded the leaders of several breakout contract to My Learning sessions, during which they Plan and coordinated the shared experiences with Choice Theory and relationconfiguration of the system in all 14 pilot districts; based learning at their school. also coordinated and delivered training and technical assistance to administrators and teachers in the Pilot districts. 2012-2013 Challenges • Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative (CALI) – Supporting CSDE Statewide Training: EASTCONN provided project management and fiscal support for CSDE in the statewide implementation of CALI. The CALI initiative is a statewide comprehensive and systemic school improvement initiative that provides districts with a common language for school improvement and consistent, research-based practices. Services included: – Facilitated and managed all 36 CALI statewide training sessions, attended by over 1,100 educators. – Provided fiscal management of 4 CSDE school improvement grants, totaling more than $2 million. • Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT): Coordinated and managed the implementation of the CAT on behalf of the CSDE. Aspiring administrators are required to pass this test in order to obtain administrator certification. This year, 1,059 CAT candidates registered to take the test and EASTCONN supervised the scoring of 2,264 tests. • Collaborative Community Service Learning: In collaboration with EWIB (Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board) and the state departments of Labor, Energy and Environmental Protection, and
Education Reform Initiatives • Multiple Priorities: Implementing the many, new, recent initiatives has been a major and sometimes exhausting challenge for all. This year, that included planning around teacher and administrator evaluation, the introduction of state standards, and preparing for the new online assessments. To complicate the challenges that our districts and our EASTCONN programs face, there are fewer resources available in general, and more of what is available at the state and federal level is being targeted to fewer districts with the greatest gaps in achievement; our districts, while experiencing significant challenges and gaps in student achievement, frequently do not qualify for this more targeted funding. • Supporting All Learners: Some of the initiatives, while designed to encompass all learners, do not adequately address the special challenges of all populations of learners, including young children, adults and those with special education needs. Limited Regional Human Services Infrastructure There is inadequate capacity across the region to meet a wide variety of human services needs, including medical, mental health, housing and transportation needs. As a
“The Skills for Success” programs give us great opportunities to take our students on challenging outings that we would otherwise not have the opportunity to do – we always return from them with a renewed sense that education should not be confined to the walls of the school or the bindings of a book.” — Brad, high school teacher 26
Agency Goal #3 result, we have limited community partners with whom we can collaborate to address the comprehensive needs of the people we jointly serve. Our community services partners have suffered substantial funding cuts, leading to reductions in services to the most vulnerable populations. Staffing Challenges • Staff with Expertise to Support Education Reform: As we staffed-up to support the implementation of reform initiatives, we experienced new challenges. Sometimes there was a need to hire staff with specialized expertise or to provide specialized training to existing staff, leading to a delay in the delivery of services. As staff is redeployed, there will be gaps to be filled. • Highly Qualified Special Educators: As the need for special education in our schools and in the region increases, finding highly qualified, Related Services personnel, not only for our own programs but for our districts, continued to be a challenge; this is especially difficult in certain shortage areas such as speechlanguage pathology, physical therapy and others. • Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment: At the same time that programs and services in our K-12 Student Services division were expanding, so, too, were the mandates that must be successfully implemented. In order to continue the successful progress in our magnet schools and clinical day-treatment programs, there is a need for specialized staff involved in the planning, oversight and evaluation of best practices in our regular and special education programs.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 Building Support for Quality Public Education Continue collaborating with our member districts to educate the public about the essential value and benefit of quality education and demonstrate with transparency that their investment is being well-managed with outcomes that make a difference for everyone, now and in the future. Across the region, town budgets are being cut and the public is questioning the cost of public education relative to the many competing needs in their local communities. We need to find ways to help our districts build public confidence and engagement in local public education.
Regional workshops help administrators stay current as they tackle the challenges of changing laws and expectations. Regional Collaboration Continue to use regional collaboration as a strategy for sharing the cost of new program development, as well as day-to-day operations, in an effort to reduce the achievement gap across the region – in spite of the many potential barriers. By pooling ideas and resources, we can all benefit at a higher level than we can by operating alone. • Educator Evaluation PD: Help our districts implement their new educator evaluation plans through regional and on-site professional development and support. • Leadership Development: Focus on professional learning opportunities for our region’s administrators through online, on-site and regional offerings, including the New Administrator Academy, online workshops and PLCs, the Administrator Book Club and the Pre-K-8 Principals’ Network; we will add a Secondary Principal Network in 2013-2014. • Common Regional Calendar: Continue to increase the number of districts adopting a common regional calendar, allowing us to offer more common professional development. • Back-Office Support: Continue to seek savings through the provision of back-office support to small districts, allowing more district resources to be targeted to direct classroom instruction. • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Consortia: Continue facilitating the regional consortia work collaboratively in the implementation of the CCSS. • Regional High School Choice Planning: Continue to facilitate dialogue across our K-12 districts about the voluntary creation of a regional high school choice initiative. In addition to increasing educational options for students, there would be enhanced opportunities for collaborative school improvement, professional learning and transition planning.
“Our students … come back and talk to their friends about the opportunity to speak, share opinions, have fun, learn from each other, and connect with others. The activities are well thought out and are relevant to the goals of the [Mosaic Interdistrict Grant] program.” — Mary Ellen Levesque, School Psychologist and 504 Coordinator, Norwich Technical High School “[The annual legislative breakfast] was the best discussion I’ve had with any group so far. Very productive and extremely helpful! … You will be hearing from me!” — Sen. Andrew Maynard, 18th Senate District, Connecticut 27
EASTCONN’s Six Divisions
ADULT PROGRAMS 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 Basic Education & High School Completion • Community Programs • Employment & Training Progrmas’ • English Language Learner Services • Parent & Family Programs 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 wervices. Wecan also assist with data colletion, 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 & Product • Early Childhood Programs & Direct Services 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 student services include: • Assistive Technology • Career Transitions • Interdistrict School-Year Programs • Magnet Schools & Other Options for Students • Professional Development & Support for Special Education & Related Services Professionals • Programs for Students with Developmental Disabilities • Schools for Non-Traditional Learners • Schools for Students with Behavioral Challenges • Services for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders & Other Developmental Disabilities • Summer, Vacation & After-School Programs • Other Student Services 28
ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES EASTCONN is committed to facilitating collaborative, regional approaches to administation operations. From cooperative purchasing to regionalstaff recruitment, EASTCONN works to find more costeffective ways of using local resources. Our organizational support services include: • Administrative Support • Conference & Event Management • Cooperative Purchasing • Employer & Business Services • Facilities & Information Technology Services • Human Resources Management • Personnel & Staffing Solutions • Program Design & Development • Transportation Services 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: • Educational Leadership • Professional Development & Coaching • School Improvement 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 Planning & Development • Technology Products
ADULT PROGRAMS Overview Adult Programs comprises four main divisions: Adult Education, Continuing Education, Employment and Training and Parent/Family Programs. 1. Adult Education provides regional adult education services to a consortium of districts that include 21 northeastern Connecticut towns. Adult Education services are free to the residents, 17 years and older, of participating towns and include the high school completion programs, GED, Credit Diploma, and the National External Diploma; English-as-aSecond-Language (ESL) instruction; American citizenship preparation; life and basic skills instruction; college transition support; out-of-school-youth services; and workplace literacy. Participating towns: Andover, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Columbia, Eastford, Hampton, Hebron, Killingly, Lebanon, Marlborough, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Scotland, Stafford, Sterling, Thompson, Union, Windham and Woodstock. 2. Continuing Education provides personal enrichment classes, as well as workshops, online learning and careeradvancement skills training. These offerings provide low-cost, lifelong learning opportunities for residents of all ages in our northeastern Connecticut communities. 3. Employment and Training provides job transition support, skills training and customized workplace literacy instruction. In addition, this component oversees the Out-of-School-Youth employment program. 4. Parent/Family Programs works in collaboration with the agency’s Early Childhood Initiatives staff to offer both parenting skills instruction and parent-child literacy support.
Goals 1. All Adult Programs classes will increase student retention rates by 10% in order to prepare students for the workforce and lifelong learning using a variety of strategies. 2. Adult Programs will enhance and/or expand more services and opportunities in the communities we serve, creating at least six new sites within our region. 3. Adult Programs will expand its employment and training services to help the unemployed and under-employed to become self-sufficient. Spanish GED students have their eyes on the prize as they concentrate on earning this widely valued high school degree.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Regional Adult Education Consortium Twenty-one (21) northeastern Connecticut towns are members of our regional Adult Education consortium. Our division managed members’ basic adult education grants and provided classes across the region in high school completion programs (the GED, Credit Diploma Program, and National External Diploma), English-as-aSecond-Language (ESL) instruction, American citizenship preparation, life/basic skills instruction and transition support.
High School Credential Growth More than 200 adult students in our combined high school credentialing programs graduated this year, a 19% increase over last year, in spite of a downward trend in enrollment; 453 students are enrolled in one of our 104 Credit Diploma Program (CDP) classes held at 5 different sites and 412 are enrolled in one of our 42 GED Preparation classes, offered at 10 different sites. In addition, 301 students are enrolled in 23 basic-skills reading and math classes, offered at 3 sites; these classes are designed to support students who need basic skills review and development, before enrolling in one of our 3 high school credential options. 29
Adult Programs • Program Expansion in Adult Education: Continued the expansion of our Credit Degree offerings across numerous academic disciplines, resulting in increased student interest. Online course participation has also grown, particularly the “Tell Me More” ESL programming. In addition to improving their technology skills, online classes allow our students to access their coursework off-site, from home, public libraries or other Internet-enabled locations. Student Retention Initiative Produced a 24% increase in our Credit Diploma Program (CDP) retention rate and a 10% increase in the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) retention rate over last year through a variety of student retention initiatives. Our adult students have many competing priorities, and sustained attendance, sometimes over a period of years, can be difficult, but is essential for successful completion. These are some of the strategies that are working: • Personal Contact: Teachers, counselors and staff increased personal contact with students, using newsletters, Facebook and phone calls.
Net, a local community-based organization, resulted in the opening of a new, highly accessible location for the National Education Diploma Program (NEDP) on Main Street in Stafford; Safe Net is a collaborative of 4 area churches in Stafford, providing complementary services, including resume writing and a food bank. • Site, Program and Scheduling Expansion: 2 lowincome housing sites became program locations for Adult Education programming this year in both the Danielson and Windham areas. The Danielson site offers GED evening classes and the Willimantic site offers ESL and Spanish GED evening classes. Added 2 communitybased ESL programs in Windham and added a new Saturday Family Literacy program at the Community Learning Center in Willimantic. • Continuing Education Site Expansion: 4 new Continuing Education programming sites were added to increase convenience and reduce transportation time and costs; they are located at libraries in Canterbury and Sterling and in Region 8 and Region 11 high schools.
• Attendance Incentives: Implemented a new “Student of the Month” initiative this year to recognize students with significant academic achievements, along with a raffle for students with exemplary attendance. • Program Expansion: Expanded offerings in our Credit Degree program to include subjects like Video Conferencing, Poetry, Sociology, Criminal Justice and Anatomy, all of which are popular among students. • Online Expansion: Increased participation in our online courses, like Oddysseyware and the ESL “Tell Me More” program, making it easy for students to pursue their coursework on their own schedules, night or day, at home or from any place where Wi-Fi is available. Increasing Access to Participation in Educational Programs Added 8 new program sites, exceeding our goal of 5, resulting in 62 new enrollments; local program site expansion is designed to decrease both travel time and costs for our adult learners. • Stafford Collaboration: A new collaboration with Safe
An I-BEST student, left, absorbs critical software skills and works toward his GED, thanks to this innovative program. Program Improvement Grants The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) awarded us 7 Adult Education Program Improvement (PIP) grants: • Transition: Preparing for 21st Century Careers Secondary: 50 adults and older youth without a high school diploma are preparing for 21st-century careers through this grant.
[Three things I like about The I-BEST program] “• The first thing I like about this program is learning how to utilize the computer in a more professional way • The GED part of the program is more informative and uses technology along with book based learning something you do not get in other GED prep classes • The job seeking end of this program helps us to understand and guide us in the right path, not just for immediate employment but long term careers I honestly do not think there is one particular part of this program that is more important than another. Each aspect of the I-BEST program works with one another to achieve overall success. For me it is the combination that has encouraged me to go on to college and a career I had no idea I could achieve.” — Lori Fisher, I-BEST student 30
Adult Programs • Windham Family procedures, and learn about the How much did we do? Learning Project: U.S. government and history 20+ economically in order to become informed More than 200 adult learners and educationally parents, workers and community earned their high school disadvantaged, limitedmembers. credential, an increase of 19% English, immigrant • Transition to Post-Secondary: parents from the Windham Our Post-Secondary Focus community attend classes program includes formal, where they are learning contextualized classroom English-speaking, reading, writing, and numeracy skills; and experiential components that build off a career parents also learn strategies for literacy development in exploration module, which guides students in developing young children. employment goals. • Non-Traditional Adult Education Project: 20+ adults, historically underserved due to significant barriers to participation, are targeted in this project. • I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) Academy: 12 adult students are earning their GED, while also earning nationally recognized software application credentials in this integrated, contextualized learning experience. • National External Diploma Program (NEDP) Expansion: 15 students will benefit from an expansion of our high school completion options in Stafford. • English-Language/Civics Project: 20+ immigrant and limited-English Windham residents are receiving English reading and communications instruction so they can better understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens and immigrants, navigate naturalization
English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) Programs • Overview: Our 2 regional learning centers provide the majority of our ESL programming; 210 students are enrolled in one of 16 classes at the Community Learning Center in Windham; and 57 are enrolled in one of 6 classes at the Northeast Learning Center in Danielson. These programs are supplemented by 12 classes at community-based locations, where an additional 149 students are enrolled. • New Classes: New classes added this year include a Saturday Family Literacy program at Windham Mills, as well as ESL and Spanish GED classes held at our Family Literacy program in Windham. Employment & Training We are the largest provider of employment and training programs in northeastern Connecticut, supporting highneed area residents who face significant barriers to economic self-sufficiency. • Under- and Unemployed Adults: Served more than 644 high-need, underemployed Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) clients. As a result, over 1/3 (152) entered employment and another 1/3 (157) entered advanced skills training programs. JFES clients are recipients of Temporary Family Assistance and are expected to move rapidly into the labor market; WIA clients are either dislocated workers or low-income adults lacking the in-demand job skills needed to obtain employment.
It’s never too late to improve your English skills, as students discover during an English-as-a-Second-Language class.
• Vocation Skills Training: Served 218 economically disadvantaged adults in our classroom-based,
“I am pleased to report that this [JFES] program continues to be strong and the exceptional level of administrative support and oversight, as well as the highly motivated staff, contributes to the success of the program.” — Carol LaBelle, Director of Programs, EWIB “I learn something new every day coming here, and I would have to say that that is the most valuable aspect of this class. Although you get a certificate and all of that, learning is the most important thing to me. I am very happy that I joined this class, and even happier that it is run by such a pleasant, informative, and understanding person like my teacher. I appreciate everything she has taught me, and I am so happy I enrolled in it.” — Kayla Bourbeau, JFES Customer Service student 31
Adult Programs (TVCCA) at CTWorks in Danielson and Willimantic sites with the addition of a WIA Adult and Dislocated Workers program (enrolling 173 new adult participants) and Core Services, both of which help unemployed and under-employed adults find appropriate skills training and/or employment. As a result of the expanded TVCCA collaboration, total staff at CTWorks sites in Danielson and Willimantic grew from 7 to 15 employees.
Employability and training programs like this Customer Service class give students an edge when competing for jobs.
Continuing Education Reorganization The Adult Programs division has made both structural and personnel changes in an effort to become more fiscally sound and programmatically targeted to the lifelong learning needs of our area’s residents. Personnel were reorganized and a coordinator with vocational skills expertise was hired to better focus our programming. The fee and payment structure was changed and we revised our approach to marketing to increase visibility and access, while reducing costs. As a result, while we are offering fewer courses and have lower enrollments, fewer classes are being cancelled, fewer instructors and support staff are needed, and cost reductions are significant.
employability and training programs to date; classes included skills development in customer service and software applications, as well as employerrequested “soft” skills like punctuality, teamwork, What difference did it make? attendance, relationships Served 644 high-need, with authorities/supervisory personnel, positive attitudes underemployed JFES and WIA and personal appearance. clients, resulting in 1/3 enrolling
Enrollment Down A 42% decrease in enrollment parallels statewide trends and is • Integrated Basic and in skills training and more than attributed to high gas prices and Vocational Skills Training: 1/3 entering employment their impact on transportation Nine (9) students are costs for students, as well as, earning both their GED on the positive side, increased and certifications in nationally recognized software programming at the local high school level designed to applications, including Microsoft Office Suite, keep students in school until they graduate. Quickbooks and Adobe, in our I-BEST pilot, begun in January 2013. This competitively awarded pilot, GED Student Communications funded by both the Eastern Connecticut Workforce With the revised January 2014 online GED approaching, Investment Board (EWIB) and the CSDE, is designed we have ramped up our efforts to reach all the students to simultaneously boost literacy and work skills so that who are in the process of attaining their GED, particularly students can earn credentials they need to attain wellthose who have completed only portions of the current paying jobs. One student is completing her classes and test; their results will expire on December 31, 2013. preparing to transition to Quinebaug Valley Community Connecting with students is difficult, however, since College. contact information has changed for most of these • CTWorks Expansion: Expanded our collaboration individuals. with the Thames Valley Council for Community Action
“The belly dancing class was fun. [A.] is a great teacher and really knows her stuff. I am looking forward to the intermediate class. Registration was easy online ... .” — Mary Ryan, Continuing Education student “Hi, I am responding to your recent email about Aqua Zumba. I and my friend both thoroughly enjoyed the class. Exercise is often the most difficult action in our life and the form makes all the difference. I would commend the form (because it is aqua) and the instructor as both motivating and delightful. She actually smiled throughout the class, every class.” — Karen Siembida, Continuing Education student 32
Adult Programs Educator Evaluation New Connecticut requirements for teacher evaluation are not a good fit for certified adult educators. As a result, the CSDE has delayed implementation until 2014, and convened a task force of adult educators to recommend modifications for evaluating their adult educator peers.
National External Diploma Program Because this credentialing program will also (like the GED) soon move to an online-only testing format, addressing the needs of students who lack sufficient computer literacy skills, will be critical to their accessing coursework and attaining their diploma.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014
Transition to Employment Continue to increase our efforts to move all of our adult students into employment by incorporating workforce transition support into all of our programs.
Online GED Transition Continue outreach to all past GED students regarding the transition to the 2014 revamped, online GED. Prepare our current students, who lack computer literacy, with both the skills they need to take the new GED and the demanding content that they must master.
While not all adult students attend their graduation ceremony, those who did last year were happy to pose for photos. This year, a total of 208 students graduated from our combined high school credentialing programs.
“Thanks for getting back to me. Considering the timeline and long holiday weekend for some, I showed up anyway and it was great! Jessica does an excellent job keeping instructions easy to follow, keeping us motivated (pumped up), and keeping it fun (everybody was smiling, and sometimes laughing). She was very welcoming and answered all my questions and/or concerns. I am 60 yrs. “young” and the Aqua Zumba lessened the impact on my physical structure, which I have to modify in my cardio kickbox classes. It was a terrific workout! I did not know anyone and everyone was so very nice. I hope to recruit some of my friends! In other words...it was FANTASTIC FOR ME! Thanks again.” — Linda LaChapelle, Continuing Education student 33
EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVES Overview Early Childhood Initiatives, which focuses on children from birth to grade 3, offers a wide array of consultation, professional development 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, accreditation and leadership training. Parent education is also provided. We oversee direct services to children and their families as the administrator of federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Windham and Tolland Counties, as well as through the northeastern Connecticut, regional Birth-to-Three Program.
Goals 1. Families support the positive social-emotional, physical, language and cognitive development in their children. 2. Programs serving children from birth to age 8 are of high quality. 3. Children achieve school success by age 9.
comprehensive Head Start/Early Head Start services includes health, nutrition, education and family support, as well as dental and mental health programs. Using evidence-based curricula to implement services and ensure success in kindergarten, Head Start/Early Head Start are provided through home-based and center-based programs in order to best meet the needs of children and their families.
4. EASTCONN early childhood programs and services serve as a resource to families, programs and institutions.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments
Head Start students, who pause for a chat in the midst of playing, benefit as much from positive social interactions with peers as from other skills-building and academic preparation. Direct Services to Children and Families • Head Start/Early Head Start: These federally funded child development programs serve 471 lowincome children and their families at a total of 9 sites across Tolland and Windham counties. The list of 34
A productive Birth-to-Three home visit results in a parent supporting her child’s verbal development by pointing to pictures. • Birth-to-Three Programming: Our Birth-to-Three Program is now providing services to children and families in all 33 towns in EASTCONN’s catchment area, an increase of 8.6% over last year. We have increased our caseload, staffing and budget and are now considered a medium-sized provider of birth-to-three services.
Early Childhood Initiatives families have set. For the first time, a mid-year check-in was conducted in February to capture the work that is in process; results help guide intervention and program improvement efforts. Almost 90% of families participated; results indicated that not only are they making some progress on previously established goals, but they are working on a variety of additional goals that they themselves have set.
Early Childhood math expert Dr. Juanita Copley, seated, demonstrates math lessons that will engage young minds.
– 88 children and their families accessed ongoing services and 90 children were evaluated; average monthly enrollment was 55, up from 50 in 2011-12.
Connecticut Preschool Assessment Framework (CT PAF) Ctpaf.org, the EASTCONN-developed Web-based tool for the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Framework, was used in 285 classrooms in 116 communities across Connecticut. Use of this time-saving and cost-effective data management tool enables teachers to display assessment results for individual children and entire classrooms. Teachers can easily view assessment results by each standard, so they can forge more effective instruction plans and track individual students’ progress over time.
– 92% of children met their Individualized Family Professional Development Service Plans goals, which address developmental Provided 38 workshops to 485 skills and progress made participants on a range of topics when transitioning out What difference did it make? that included intentional teachingof the program at age Children in classrooms that to-standards, using assessment 3. During this fiscal year, to inform instruction, leadership implemented Scaffolding Early Birth-to-Three saw an and supervision skills, providing Learning demonstrated a larger increased number of curriculum nights to families of children with diagnoses increase in language skills than preschool children, language and that impacted their ability those in classrooms that did not literacy, and scientific inquiry. to make substantial developmental gains. Improving Executive These children have made Functioning & Early Language/Literacy Skills overall progress and have transitioned into preschool • Implemented Scaffolding Early Learning (ScEL) in programs in their LEAs, where they continue to collaboration with McREL, a national leader in researchreceive services. based education practices, in 34 preschool classrooms in the region, an increase of 240% over last year. Analysis of Family Goals & Stress Factors Evaluation results from the first year of implementation Early Head Start/Head Start continued to use the indicate that children in classrooms that implemented multidimensional Family Functioning Scale to measure ScEL demonstrated a larger increase in language skills the achievement of family-defined goals and the stress than children in classrooms that did not. factors that impede them. By comparing scores from the beginning to the end of the year, families and staff can see how much progress has been made on goals that
• Provided 3 training sessions on executive function to 200+ teachers (preK-grade 3), administrators and
“I have been privileged to work with EASTCONN in Hampton, Connecticut, many times in the last few years as a presenter in the area of early childhood mathematics. [Your staff] are outstanding early childhood educators and I highly respect them as facilitators of high quality professional development. Their dedication to the development of young children and the education of their teachers is simply amazing and EASTCONN is indeed fortunate to have their expertise. Because of my work on the Common Core Content and Practice Standards for Mathematics, I am asked to work with many school districts and states to support their initiatives. EASTCONN has specifically understood the necessity of working with school districts to support them in these important efforts. The focus of my work with EASTCONN has been and continues to involve the implementation of the Math CCSS. Over the past few years I have worked in more than 20 states presenting and facilitating curricular development and pedagogy. Because of my husband’s illness, I am only accepting half of these requests. Please know that I always accept the requests of EASTCONN because of the quality of their interactions, their many kindnesses to me, and most importantly, their beliefs and integrity to professional development for teachers of young children.” — Juanita V. Copley, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, University of Houston 35
Early Childhood Initiatives Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Implementation Support Supported the implementation of CCSS in the early grades with a focus on helping primary grade teachers develop the skills needed to teach “math thinking” in young children and to respond to the shifts in standards affecting the way that curriculum, instruction and assessment must be addressed in the early grades.
Agency staff provide regional workshops and trainings yearround for early childhood providers across the region.
• More than 150 teachers and administrators participated in 2 professional development sessions focused on CCSS preK-2 mathematics and delivered by nationally known math expert, Dr. Juanita Copley.
• Served on the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) CCSS Mathematics Team to review units and lessons from other states to determine alignment of critical components for use in Connecticut school districts.
related service staff, as well as 2 workshops for 125 parents. Longitudinal research has demonstrated that the presence of executive function skills in preschool is predictive of school and life success. Providing children opportunities to gain executive function skills, including working memory, inhibitory control, attention to task and cognitive flexibility, can impact school success. NAEYC Accreditation Support Supported 24 preschool/kindergarten classrooms, in both publicly funded and non-funded, community-based and public-school-based settings, to meet national standards of high-quality early care and education, as defined by the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC accreditation is nationally recognized as a primary indicator of program quality and is required for all programs funded through Connecticut’s School Readiness Initiative. High-quality early childhood programs help to ensure children’s readiness for successful transition to school. Currently, 54 community-based and public school programs in the EASTCONN region are NAEYC accredited as a direct result of EASTCONN’s support.
It’s never too early to start reading, as these young girls, part of the Early Head Start program, discover with their teacher.
“EASTCONN has gone out of their way to support my transition into a new administrative role. While I have fourteen years of experience within the program, my responsibilities have changed dramatically ... They have been generous with their time and expertise. Their support has ensured a smooth transition for our program.” —Aliki Caraganis, Director of Early Childhood Education, Windham Public Schools “I am so happy to share with you how [Early Childhood staff] helped our school receive our first NAEYC Accreditation. [You] came to our school at least once a month for over a year and worked with my staff and myself to set up a schedule to complete the requirements for NAEYC. [You] showed us how to set up surveys, organize files, set up classrooms, design forms needed for portfolios as well as preparing us for site visits from both the NAEYC and ECERS committee. [You] also had so many positive, uplifting words through this very long stressful process. [Your staff member] kept us focused and on track. It was a pleasure to work with [you], and all of us at St. Joseph School learned so much. It was because of [your] dedication and commitment to success that we achieved our goal of accreditation.” — Sharon A. Briere, Principal, St. Joseph School, Thompson 36
Early Childhood Initiatives
2012-2013 Challenges Increasing Numbers of Children with SelfRegulation and Social-Emotional Challenges We are seeing an increase in the number of children with social–emotional and self-regulation issues across our early childhood programs, including Birth-to-Three, Early Head Start and Head Start. As a result, we have been implementing strategies to support the development of self-regulation, have increased consultation in classrooms by mental health professionals and have increased referrals to mental health professionals for services. However, the lack of clinicians trained to work with infants, toddlers and preschool-age children and the wait-time from referral to intake pose significant challenges to addressing children’s needs. Bright colors, big play spaces and carefully chosen toys promote cognitive and motor skills among Head Start youngsters. 3-to-3 Initiative This initiative focuses on building strong connections and instructional coordination between learning experiences across the critical early childhood years; research consistently demonstrates that the cornerstone of student success is the learning that takes place from preK through grade 3.
• Served on the state leadership team examining the alignment of educational standards, curricula, assessment and professional development.
• Supported 4 statewide 3-to-3 symposia attended by more than 500 educators, administrators and boards of education members.
National & State Presentations • National Proposals: Early Head Start collaborated with the University of Connecticut in the development and submission of 2 proposals to the Zero-to-Three National Training Institute related to our work on increasing positive parent-child engagement and on supporting parents to decrease stress factors and to meet established goals. • State Presentations: Staff presented at the October Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children Conference on “Using the Classroom Portfolio for Professional Development and Reflection” and at the Goodwin College Literacy Conference on “Enhancing Oral Language” in May.
Playground negotiations, as early as preschool, help youngsters develop critical social-emotional strategies for life. Access to Services There are multiple challenges related to the provision of services that many families of young children in our region need:
• The need for Head Start/Early Head Start services exceeds available slots due to inadequate funding.
• There are inadequate center-based programs for infants and toddlers, and inadequate funding to support the demand for high-quality, center-based services through Early Head Start; currently there are 40 center-based slots in the region and 79 families on the waiting list.
• The availability of occupational therapists and physical therapists with expertise in infants and toddlers is inadequate to meet demand.
“The CAS and EASTCONN coordination of P-3 professional development serves as testimony to true collaboration - the focus is on closing the achievement gap. Our Age 3 to Grade 3 team has made significant progress over our three-year tenure providing symposiums and workshops in an effort to build strong, cohesive early childhood educational systems, and to give our students the best chance to succeed. [Your] leadership and contributions on our 3-3 leadership team has provided guidance in selecting experts in the field of early childhood, keeping our focus on the importance of school and community relationships and staying with our vision of ‘Closing the Achievement Gap: Getting PreK-Grade 3 Right.’” — Regina Birdsell, Assistant Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Schools 37
Early Childhood Initiatives
A happy group of children at the Early Head Start/Head Start site in Killingly have fun jumping and dancing to upbeat music.
• Families that qualify for our Birth-to-Three services are choosing not to access services because of their inability or unwillingness to pay the sliding-scale fees.
Professional Development Challenges There are multiple challenges with meeting the professional development requirements associated with state funding and/or NAEYC accreditation:
• There is a lack of coordination across state-funded professional development initiatives.
• Release-time and substitute coverage present challenges for our local programs.
• Sometimes demand for professional development is greater than our capacity.
• Our professional development services are costprohibitive for some community-based early care and education programs.
K-3 Assessments As the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) progresses, our districts are faced with the selection and use of appropriate K-3 assessments that align with the new early childhood standards.
Implications & Plans for 2013-2014 Early Learning & Development Standards Promote the adoption of Early Learning and Development
Standards (birth-to-5) across the region through professional development opportunities and implement them in our Birth-to-Three, Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Professional Development Initiatives • Align the professional development we provide with the early childhood teacher standards and the Core Knowledge Competencies for Early Childhood; these standards and competencies are the foundation of the early childhood teacher credential.
• Provide professional development on self-regulation and executive functioning to preschool and primary grade staff.
• Support districts as they adopt and use appropriate assessments aligned with the CCSS for K-2.
Parenting Training Offer workshops for parents on self-regulation and executive functioning in young children. Mental Health Collaboration Increase services and collaborate with mental health professionals to address needs of parents and children in Head Start and Birth-to-Three. Increase Funding & Services Explore additional funding sources to supplement the preschool services and services we provide to infants/ toddlers and their families.
“So I can definitely say it’s not just about kids, it’s about helping families too … There’s just so much we’ve gained from Head Start program and Early Head Start program. I couldn’t ask for anything better.” — Jessica O., Head Start parent, Stafford “I just wanted to take a little bit of time to tell you how I feel about having you as one of our few in-home guests helping me with [J.]. You have made such a huge difference with every visit we have had with you. I get so excited seeing the way that [J.] responds to you in such a positive way.” — Martha, Birth-to-Three parent, Stafford Springs 38
FACILITIES / IT SERVICES Overview The primary responsibility of the Facilities and Information Technology (IT) Services Department is to maintain and support almost 175,000 square feet of agency-owned-and-operated facilities, including all exterior landscaping and maintenance. Facilities and IT support is also provided on a fee-for-service basis to member districts, their municipalities, community-based organizations and others as requested. Facilities helps internal staff and external member districts provide safe and healthy learning and working environments through services that include: asbestos inspection and management; hazardous materials management; training and consulting; radon testing; IT support; facilities/maintenance audits; and facilities management and staffing consultation.
Goals 1. To continue to provide high-quality asbestos consulting services by a licensed asbestos inspector/management planner to member districts, ensuring their compliance with federal and state AHERA regulations. 2. To continue to offer radon-testing services to member districts and day-care providers, ensuring compliance with Connecticut Indoor Air Quality regulations. 3. To provide these quality services in a cost-effective manner, while competing against the private, for-profit sector in a challenging economy. 4. To provide an IT network and infrastructure that supports enhanced educational applications along with Internet-based learning programs, which improve and increase student learning outcomes in a cost-effective manner.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Asbestos Management Services • Provided 6-Month Asbestos Reassessment Designated Person Services to 5 member school districts that are without trained persons on staff, helping them meet federal and state requirements.
• Provided 3-year Asbestos Management Plan updates for 6 member school districts.
• Developed new Asbestos Management Plans for Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) and provided training for State of Connecticut-employed maintenance staff, as required by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CDPH) and federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulations.
• Developed a new Asbestos Management Plan for a RESC Middle College program and provided training
materials to their Maintenance Director to train his maintenance staff in accordance with CDPH and AHERA regulations.
• Provided a pre-demolition asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) inspection to a local town.
Radon Testing • With an on-staff, Nationally Certified and CDPHapproved Radon Technician qualified to test schools in Connecticut, EASTCONN provided the required 5-year re-testing Radon Measurement to 2 member school districts; also provided radon re-testing for another RESC. All EASTCONN radon testing was previously a contracted-out service that is now performed in-house and offered to member districts, resulting in increased availability and reductions in cost.
• Continued to work closely with the CDPH Asbestos and Radon Unit, to resolve any school district compliance issues, as they occur.
Hazardous Materials Management Assistance • Provided Hazardous Materials consulting services to a member school district with proposed renovation projects on the slate for 2012-2013. This included assistance with procuring price quotes for predemolition asbestos inspections, as required under EPAissued NESHAP regulations.
How well did we do?
“This level of service is rare in any business these days. EASTCONN should be commended ...” 39
Facilities/IT Services installing cameras and both FOB and buzzer systems.
• Attended statewide symposium on school safety and provided colleagues on the EASTCONN Management Team with recommendations for improving safety and security in all agency facilities.
• Collaborated with EASTCONN directors in the development of an agency-wide facilities security and safety plan that incorporates best practices across the country.
Facilities Improvements • Supervised the repair and replacement of the aging roof at our Educational and Vocational Center in Columbia and saved approximately $45,000 in projected expenses through effective local contract negotiations. Facilities Director Michael Akana provides mandated asbestos training to maintenance staff from member districts. IT Services Highlights • Secured a total of $119,105 in 2012-2013 e-Rate funding.
• Acquired and installed a high-quality playscape, with plans to install a second, at EASTCONN school sites, creating appropriate outdoor recess spaces for students.
• Installed a 14,000 KW generator to support the agency’s main server, allowing for continued operation of critical functions, like payroll, during power outages.
• Provided IT support (“break and fix services”) to 2 member school districts and 1 municipality. • Provided ongoing technical support to the CSDE Kindergarten Inventory database. • Provided database development and support for student information system to 1 district. • Provided technical support and programming services for ctpaf.org, the EASTCONN-developed online application used across the state to monitor the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Frameworks. • Improved EASTCONN infrastructure by investing in new network equipment and servers. • Completed the upgrade of EASTCONN e-mail system to Exchange 2010, resulting in quicker access for all agency staff, and more efficient storage. School Safety and Security • Upgraded security at 3 EASTCONN school sites by
IT staff work on a new security system module, part of recent, security upgrades at many of the agency’s facilities.
2013-2014 Challenges Technology Advances It is challenging to remain knowledgeable about new technology advances and their potential impact on services provided to customers, both internally, within the agency,
“EASTCONN has been providing Hampton Elementary School with technology services for the past 3 years. The level of service that we have received this year has been extraordinary. The technicians have worked with us to problem-solve to the highest level possible, allowing us to maximize our current technology while guiding us to invest wisely in new technology, infrastructure and services. The service EASTCONN provides us through the RESC is something that we could not provide for ourselves as a small district. EASTCONN has worked carefully with us to keep our budget within a manageable range without the sacrifice of essential services; listened to our long-term and daily concerns and responded usefully; assigned us top-notch “techies” who give us good advice, speedy service, and exhibit a good “bedside manner”; and built a positive rapport with administrators and employees school-wide.” —Paul Graseck, Superintendent Hampton Public Schools and Elise I. Guari, Principal Hampton Elementary School 40
Facilities/IT Services Supporting Mobile Technology 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, as well as accommodating our mobile users with applications and communications tools.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 Regional Facilities Collaboration Reconvene the Facilities Directors Forum, concentrating on regional solutions to common challenges that face our districts, both legislatively and economically.
Fast-paced advances in mobile technologies require that IT staff stay abreast of current trends in order to provide proper support for the latest network systems and applications. and externally, for member districts. IT staff must support a wide range of technology applications, from administrative support systems to learner support systems to physical plant systems. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and ensuring that staff knowledge is current, continues to be both expensive and time-consuming.
Service Growth Manage and sustain appropriate growth by increasing the number of districts accessing one or more of our services (including asbestos-related support, radon testing, network support and consulting) by 10% annually. School Security Implement legislative school security measures passed by Connecticut lawmakers.
Staff Capacity Demand continues to grow both in-house and from our member districts for cost-effective, accessible IT support. In order to continue the growth of our technology support services, we must maintain adequate staff capacity, both in numbers and in skills/knowledge. Facility Security Maintaining safe and secure working and learning environments is an ongoing challenge for our Facilities team and we are currently working on strategies that maximize the utilization of technology.
Playgrounds similar to this will be installed at our EASTCONN schools by Facilities staff, ensuring a safe and fun-filled outdoor recess experience for students.
“In Hampton we recently needed some updated radon testing completed. We sent the email to Mike Akana, Director of Facilities & Information Technology, and Hazardous Materials Program on a Friday evening. By Monday morning he was at the school with the necessary items to begin our radon testing. This level of service is rare in any business these days. EASTCONN should be commended on its level of professionalism and service provided to the local schools.” — Paul Graseck, Superintendent Hampton Public Schools and Elise I. Guari, Principal Hampton Elementary School “We were fortunate to have IT colleagues with skill, creativity and patience to collaborate with as we rolled out the new agency site. We could not afford to purchase the level of expertise they provide and the results are always beyond our expectations.” — Dotty Budnick, Director, EASTCONN Marketing & Communications 41
FINANCE Overview Finance provides a full array of organizational financial services, including payroll, accounts payable, billing/accounts receivable, accounting/bookkeeping administration, budgets, fiscal grants management and financial management, as well as directly supporting portions of the agency operations relating to cooperative purchasing, transportation and facilities.
Goals 1. Utilize technology to provide enhanced customer service with improved processes that also minimize/reduce costs whenever possible. 2. Establish a regional health collaborative to provide savings opportunities to the agency, member districts and related municipalities by 2013. 3. Reorganize the Finance Department’s functions, roles and responsibilities to provide effective, high-level customer service to internal and external customers. 4. Update fiscal operating policies and procedures to ensure they conform to current and best practices in order to maintain a highly efficient finance office and demonstrate compliance with proper accounting practices.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Business Office Volume Processed almost 13,500 financial transactions in the management of our agency’s $71 million budget, an increase of 12% over last year; issued almost 3,500 mentor payments, totaling $1.58 million for the TEAM contract alone.
The agency’s 125 grants, totaling about $22 million in 20122013, come from state, federal and private funders, some of whose logos appear above. and services, which would otherwise not be available in our region, at little or no cost to districts; the resulting programs and services directly and indirectly benefit citizens of all ages from all 36 member districts. Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) Realized our goal of establishing a regional health collaborative by 2013; provided administrative staffing support in its first full year of operation. The full-time administrator provides support to ECHIP’s 11 members and their board of directors, including the facilitation of renewal rates. Members expect to see significant cost savings. Also provided budgeting support to the agencywide, first-ever Health and Wellness initiative and Health Fair, both of which grew out of our ECHIP membership.
Grants Management Provided fiscal management for 125 federal, state and private grants and contracts, totaling approximately $22 million. Our grants come from a variety of state, federal and private funders, including the Connecticut State “Back-Office” Support Department of Education (CSDE), the state Department Local district administrative functions, including “back of Social Services, the state office” functions, are areas where Department of Children and we are actively exploring potential How much did we do? Families, the state Department cost savings, either through direct Provided fiscal management for of Labor, the National Math and staff support or through facilitated 125 federal, state and private Science Initiative, and the U.S. collaboration. Such strategies are Department of Labor. These grants and contracts, totaling designed to save local district grants, many of which are resources, while maintaining approximately $22 million competitive, provide programs or improving the quality and 42
Finance effectiveness of operations through the use of fiscal management software and other technologies. • Direct District Support: Provided fiscal management services to a member district, including budget management, accounts payable and payroll, resulting in enhanced services for the district, increased effectiveness and cost savings over its in-house provision of comparable services. • Regional Consortium: Awarded a competitive CSDE grant for the purpose of facilitating regional collaboration across EASTCONN member districts in the delivery of “back office” functions.
What difference did it make?
Cooperative Purchasing members realized estimated savings of 10-15%, or between $1.4 and $2.1 million this year
Cooperative Purchasing Expansion Increased the variety of cooperative purchasing products and services for our member districts. Total cooperative member purchases exceeded $14 million, an increase of 7%, or about $1 million, over last year. Members realized an estimated average savings of 10-15%, or between $1.4 million and $2.1 million — savings that could be redirected to support other local/educational needs. Cooperative purchasing vendors also paid a total of more than $202,000 in rebates to members. Expanded food options have helped our cafeteria food members meet Federal Lunch Requirements. Construction Grant Closeout Successfully closed a long-pending construction grant covering the renovation of the agency’s Hampton Administrative Offices. Agency Copier Renewals Conducted an analysis of all current copier/printer equipment and usage data to produce a request for bids, resulting in the need for fewer, more efficient machines at both a lower lease rate and per-copy cost. Future savings are estimated at $50,000 annually.
Area food vendors share samples of their products during an expo for Cooperative Purchasing members.
Business Office Reorganization Created new positions to better support the business office workflow, including a Finance Coordinator, an Accounts Receivable Senior Bookkeeper, and a Finance Administrative Assistant, resulting in enhanced accounts
“Union School District, Connecticut’s smallest, has achieved continuous success by keeping things small and simple. When complexities arise, either educationally or operationally, we turn to EASTCONN for effective solutions. Most recently, we collaborated with EASTCONN to provide our back-office services. Working closely with [your Finance staff], we began by transferring payroll and accounting services. The immediate result was an upgrade to a top-of-the-line software program and a drop-in our auditing costs. As we move forward, we are looking to grow our capacity for budget planning and management. We are also confident that with EASTCONN’s assistance, we can meet and exceed any State accounting and reporting requirements.” — Joe Reardon, Superintendent, Union Public Schools “With a limited budget and minimal staffing in our small district, it is absolutely essential that we have competent and reliable people in every single position. I rarely call upon outside resources for assistance since the fund allocations dictate that I spend money only on absolute requirements. It was a great privilege to have somebody with your depth of understanding volunteer to contribute to our hiring process. I am very grateful for the time you dedicated to ensuring that we made a good decision in hiring the next person who will keep our financial records.” – Linda O. Loretz, Principal/Superintendent, Eastford School District 43
Finance receivables procedures and increased support to ECHIP, the K-12 Student Services division, the Transportation division and Head Start. Process Improvements • Developed an enhanced analysis of LEA purchases over a 2-to-3-year period in order to identify district trends.
• A process for revenue reconciliation was developed along with new protocols for staff review and reconciliation of the draft audit.
• Converted to a more secure and user-friendly credit card process through Authorize.net.
• Enhanced our risk management by putting all insurances out to bid and ensuring that they are effectively meeting our needs in the most cost-effective manner.
• TimeClock Plus, our online timesheet system, is now operational for all hourly personnel, resulting in a more efficient payroll process with fewer errors and significantly faster processing.
2012-2013 Challenges New Business Opportunities Remaining nimble enough to address new business opportunities that appeared throughout the year. Provide Fiscal Support In order to provide effective fiscal support to districts we must also work to ensure consistency with local municipal fiscal systems and protocols. Deploy Staff Strategically As we direct support to districts we must reallocate and redeploy our staff resources, while maintaining adequate support of our agency fiscal systems.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 “Back Office” Support Collaborate with districts to determine how we can best support their “back office” functions in order to both improve operations and enhance service quality, while maintaining or reducing costs. Cooperative Purchasing Improvements Continue expanding and improving our cooperative purchasing strategies and processes. Regional Health Insurance Cooperative
TimeClock Plus, the agency’s efficient, new, user-friendly online timesheet system, has streamlined the payroll process.
• Expand membership and collaborative activities, resulting in reduced health care costs.
• Prepare for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“I would like to thank … the Finance Department for the continuous support I’ve been provided since my arrival at EASTCONN. The Finance Team has been extremely welcoming and really rallies around the work I’m doing. I would especially like to thank [S.] for the extensive work she provided [including]… setting up the ECHIP bank reporting system … to encompass each of the 11 member entities … a system that allows me to track current cash flow, claims paid out, refunds paid in, monthly and yearly budget measurements, all tying into a YTD spreadsheet, per entity, that loads into a master spreadsheet posting the entire ECHIP account. This reporting capability allows me to view ECHIP at a glance or down to the entity level …” — Larisa Carr, Administrator, Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) “[The Finance Office] manages over 350 student tuition slips for us with uncommon accuracy … When billing conflicts arise, [D.] brings her calming nature to provide an explanation or help find a solution. [D.] is one among many unsung heroes in our central office …” — Tom Cronin, Director of Education Services, EASTCONN “… We utilized important components of the [EASTCONN] Cooperative Purchasing program made available to area school systems. We particularly used many of the paper products and the milk procurement in our food service program.” — Richard E. Packman, Superintendent of Schools, Pomfret 44
HUMAN RESOURCES Overview The Human Resources Department provides services to more than 550 employees in a wide variety of positions across a diverse range of programs in a constantly changing agency. Services include recruitment, new-hire support, benefits management, employee relations and related administrative services associated with continuing employment.
Goals 1. Proactively expand technology applications to enhance HR customer service and improve work processes that reduce administrative costs. 2. Promote and sustain the “EASTCONN Way” work culture throughout the agency to encourage all employees to deliver the highest quality products and services that exceed customers’ expectations. 3. Provide assistance to member districts in meeting their HR management needs to achieve efficient staffing, operations and regulatory compliance. 4. Develop and implement successful EASTCONN employee wellness program.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Employee Acquisition • Recruitment & Hiring: Processed more than 4,800 job applications in response to over 170 job postings/ ads, conducted more than 500 employment interviews, and responded to more than 4,300 employment-related telephone inquiries during 2012-2013.
• Researched the provision of regulatory compliance training, HR audits, internal investigation services and health collaborative supports on a fee-for-service basis for our member districts. New Employee Orientations • Held 3 employee orientation sessions attended by 85 new employees. These important trainings introduce new hires to our agency history and structure, mandatory trainings and our “EASTCONN Way” work culture; includes group exercises demonstrating such key principles as customer focus, teamwork and collaboration. • Oversaw the updating of our orientation video to incorporate 6 new interviews and new “B Roll” footage; this video, and the interviews in particular, provide reallife examples of EASTCONN’s beliefs in action. • Incorporated “EASTCONN Way” principles into the new employee orientation process, including a new multi-media messaging initiative. Feedback from employees and their supervisors has been very positive, with more than 95% reporting that staff benefited from the trainings.
• Employee Recruitment & Hiring Services: In a pilot project, provided our online AppliTrack system on a fee-for-service basis for the recruitment of both central office and instructional personnel for a member district; HR screened and interviewed applicants, providing the district with a short list of top candidates. More than 300 applicants responded to 20 job postings listed on EASTCONN’s job board. Employee Training • Coordinated the delivery of agency-wide mandatory training, ensuring agency compliance with legal mandates associated with annual training of both direct services and supervisory personnel. Organized and delivered customized, mandated, employee training to more than 300 employees from 3 of our direct services programs: Student Services, Adult Programs and Head Start.
Agency staff concentrate on a tricky, collaborative, teambuilding exercise during an EASTCONN Way orientation.
Human Resources Employee Relations • Instituted new initiatives designed to improve relations with our teachers’ union through regular meetings, problem solving and improved communications. Ten (10) meetings were held and no grievances were filed; when surveyed verbally, more than a dozen managers, representing all K-12 and Adult Programs staff, expressed satisfaction with improved employee relations.
• Participated in a cross-division work team focused on the recruitment and retention of key employees and succession planning. Analyzed hiring and retention data and researched best practices at other, like agencies, and developed and presented recommendations designed to produce quality staff hires and longer rates of retention.
Electronic Management Systems • Conducted research on the “self-service” software upgrade of our MUNIS fiscal/personnel information management system and prepared an upgrade plan for the transition.
• TimeClock Plus, the new electronic payroll and time/ attendance system for all hourly staff, is now fully operational, resulting in a more efficient and costeffective process and a 10% reduction in Human Resources staff support for payroll.
1,135 educators in northeastern Connecticut accessed our fingerprinting services this year, thanks to our well-trained staff and multiple, convenient locations. participant expectations check sheets. Participated in MTR minority teacher hiring/retention and peer networking workshops. Shared Services In spite of a difficult economy, numbers stayed largely constant as HR continued to provide 45 alternative staffing solutions to our member districts; 2 LEAs added paraprofessional positions and 1 new LEA contracted with us.
Fingerprinting Services Statewide Minority Teacher Recruitment • This year, 1,225 people used our fingerprinting services, Participated in Minority including individuals applying Teacher Recruitment (MTR), to be substitute teachers in How much did we do? a comprehensive Connecticut area districts, and candidates As an MTR Alliance member, we State Department of Educationin university-based teacher administered 48 Praxis Test prep funded, Regional Educational preparation programs. Service Center Alliance and math sessions to 150 minority • Services are delivered on-site to program that encourages and educator candidates future teacher candidates at both supports minority teacher the University of Connecticut in recruitment and retention. Storrs and Eastern Connecticut Administered 48 Praxis State University in Willimantic. test preparation courses for 150 participants statewide • Researched and recommended the transition to electronic through MTR; Praxis courses provide tutorial support for fingerprinting as a means for improving customer minority candidates planning to take the Praxis I and II service, expanding our customer base and increasing our examinations, which are required for teacher certification. revenue by an estimated 5% annually. Developed and implemented Praxis instructor and
“ ... thank you for doing my fingerprints today for Woodstock Academy. You were very professional in the way you handled your job. I can tell you take pride in the work you do and you did it with a pleasant personality. You made something I did not want to do easy. Thanks again!” – Aaron Patterson, Athletic Director at Woodstock Academy “The Human Resources Department has worked very hard to understand the diverse job needs and qualifications our Adult Programs require to be successful. The Human Resources team has been an exceptional resource for our staff as well as our students who are preparing for the world of work, and has been an integral part of our success in the Adult Programs division.” – Richard Tariff, Director of EASTCONN Adult Programs 46
Human Resources Wellness Initiative Created a cross-agency wellness committee that met on a monthly basis in collaboration with the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) administrator and our insurance broker. This collaboration resulted in a 6-week walking program, involving 133 registered staff participants from across the agency. Staff used an American Heart Association online tool to track their walking totals, which equaled 16,234,973 steps, or 8,010.65 miles over the course of 6 weeks. The culminating Health and Wellness Fair also provided free on-site health screenings for employees through the Northeast Health District’s “Be Well Program” in collaboration with ECHIP. These initiatives are designed to improve employee wellness and help contain health-care costs.
2012-2013 Challenges Electronic Payroll System Transitioning from a paper-based timesheet process to an electronic payroll system has required considerable technical set-up and debugging, along with a significant investment in supervisor and employee training. During implementation, numerous technical problems have required time-consuming resolution efforts involving many different parts of the agency.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 Electronic Payroll System • EASTCONN Rollout: Continue to provide payroll system training and troubleshooting support; develop a system audit strategy and tools to assess process improvements and efficiency gains. • LEA Assistance: Explore an EASTCONN/TimeClock Plus™ joint-venture training package to assist paper-to-Web electronic conversions for LEAs currently using Munis. Regional Health Insurance Cooperative Continue to assist with the regional implementation and maintenance of the year-old Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Cooperative (ECHIP), both internally with employee health-and-wellness initiatives, and externally, by working with ECHIP members. Staff Training Expansion & Enhancement • Facilitate and expand program-level delivery of agencymandated trainings, including elements of our newly redesigned “EASTCONN Way” training. • Use Web-based technology for tutorial training, as appropriate, to increase and facilitate access to training. Web-based trainings may include direct services’ annual mandatory training, new employee orientations and employee recruitment/marketing training.
Minority Recruitment Given the demographics of our 36-district region, minority recruitment is challenging. And yet, the agency’s minority employment increased from 9.2% in 2011-2012 to 10.8% in 2012-2013. Minority employment among towns in the EASTCONN region is currently 8.7%.
Emergency Preparation & Response Training Organize and implement management-level tabletop exercises throughout the agency to increase appropriate incident-response awareness and preparedness in the event a critical situation arises. This approach has been shown to prepare individuals effectively for real-life scenarios that they might encounter.
Maturing Workforce As the most experienced employees retire from the agency, it is essential that the knowledge, skills, institutional memory and culture are sustained through a combination of effective recruitment, induction and mentoring initiatives, including new employee orientation meetings and related employee training.
Regional Recruitment Initiative Continue to explore the expansion of EASTCONN’s electronic job applicant tracking system (AppliTrack) to support a regional LEA recruitment initiative, including reduced cost-shared advertising and the delivery of real-time electronic job applications for participating LEAs.
“The Willington School District benefits significantly from EASTCONN’s Shared Staffing. EASTCONN’s Human Resources Department manages all aspects of hiring and maintaining quality paraprofessionals for our district. EASTCONN offers us attractive paraprofessional staffing solutions.” – Holly DiBella-McCarthy, Director of Pupil Services, Willington Public Schools “As a new employee at EASTCONN, I appreciate the open door in the Human Resources Department. [Staff] have been responsive to my numerous questions regarding support staff and clarifying EASTCONN’s policies and procedures. The whole team makes an effort to meet employees’ needs every day. The EASTCONN’s “Walk for Health Program” is a wonderful way for me to meet my personal health goals, while helping us all to stay or get fit. I look forward to taking part in other health-related initiatives.” – Diane Gozemba, Assistant Director of EASTCONN Early Childhood Initiatives 47
K-12 STUDENT SERVICES Overview Student Services offers a continuum of services for low-incidence 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.
Goals 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.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments
MAGNET SCHOOLS OVERVIEW Rigorous Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment • NEASC Accreditation EASTCONN’s 2 magnet schools, Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) high school and Quinebaug Middle College (QMC), continued the process of seeking accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). A formal site visit to each school by the Commission for Public Secondary Schools (CPSS) was conducted in May 2013. – New and Innovative Course Offerings: ACT and QMC continue to enhance their educational programming for students through unique, interdisciplinary courses that connect students to their interests and to the skills they will need for successful college and career experiences. At ACT, a new course, “Fitness Video Production,” allows students to demonstrate their learning of fitness concepts, while enhancing their knowledge of video production. The fitness videos they create, which demonstrate the benefits of and proper techniques for exercise, are suitable for sharing with students in elementary, middle and high schools. QMC students engaged in several new Service Learning courses in 2012-2013, 48
including Music Makers, in which students learn to perform various genres of music in ensembles, and then perform for Quinebaug Valley Community College coffee houses and local retirement homes. – Senior Capstone Project: 24 students at ACT and 32 students at QMC were engaged in the Senior Capstone Project program, which has finished its 3rd year. The Capstone Project gave seniors an opportunity to apply the interdisciplinary skills and knowledge they had acquired during their years in high school toward an in-depth investigation of a topic of their choice. Frequently, student projects have the potential for lasting impact on their school or the community. Capstone projects of note this year included: an investigation of the impact of social networking on student in-school social interactions; development of a political platform for running for state representative; development of a community service project to help and empower the underprivileged to obtain services they need; and the creation of a public presentation on bullying, delivered to area middle and elementary students.
ACT Creative Writing students were among regional finalists in the acclaimed Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards contest.
K-12 Student Services
ARTS AT THE CAPITOL THEATER (ACT) ACT Enrollment Increases ACT experienced a 6% increase in full-time student enrollment this academic year, with a total of 140 students from 38 districts, including 6 students from new sending districts and 2 districts outside our region. ACT Performance Expansion ACT continued to offer an increasing number and variety of performance opportunities for its students. These public performances also provide opportunities for potential students and their families to see ACT in action and support efforts to be involved in the greater Windham community and celebrate multicultural experiences in the arts. • Performances increased by 10% and more than 2,000 audience members visited the Capitol Theater to see ACT students perform in many sold-out productions. • ACT students collaborated with Eastern Connecticut State University in the production of The Big Read, an interdisciplinary and artistically interpretive event based on Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories, which was performed in Spanish and English. ACT Student Achievements • Sixteen (16) Creative Writing students were recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, one of the world’s oldest (continuously operating since 1923), largest, and most prestigious writing contests. The 16 ACT writers include students in grades 9 through 12 from 12 different towns, including Coventry, Colchester, East Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Plainfield, Pomfret, Tolland, Vernon, Willimantic, Willington and Woodstock. • “Bread Loaf” and Sunken Garden Poetry contest: A sophomore and a junior, both in ACT’s Creative Writing classes, were invited to the prestigious “Bread Loaf” New England Young Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College this spring; that same ACT sophomore is also a finalist in the youth division of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, held each year in Farmington.
ACT students proudly won 1st Place and $5,000 in the annual, statewide DMV video contest promoting safe teen driving. • Students from the Audio/Video Production program at ACT won First Place in a statewide Department of Motor Vehicles video contest by creating a public service announcement (PSA) on the dangers of distracted teen driving. They competed against 148 other high school videos. ACT students created and directed the video, and this year’s submission was the first original “rap” song entry. Dan Boisvert, ACT’s audio/video teacher, is also the only teacher in the state to have supervised a Top 10 winning DMV contest video for the 5th year in a row. • An increasing number of ACT seniors have been accepted to several competitive colleges this year, including Emerson, Drexel, Duquesne and UConn. ACT Year-End Highlights • On November 21, 6 more students were inducted into ACT’s chapter of the National Honor Society in its 2nd annual induction ceremony. The students are from 5 communities, representing Vernon, Plainfield, Tolland, Coventry and Windham. • On June 8, 2013, ACT’s third senior class graduated all 24 seniors from 13 different districts, including Colchester, Coventry, East Hampton, Killingly, Lisbon, Moodus, Plainfield, Stafford Springs, Windham, Woodstock, Region 8, Region 11 and Region 19.
“I would like to share our wonderful experience with ACT over the past four years. As you know B. is a graduating senior who has been accepted into his first choice college, Drexel University, as an electrical engineering major, in the honors and accelerated Master Degree Program. He has thrived in his four years at ACT growing as rapidly as the school. I am confident that his success is a result of his hard work and the quality, creativity and flexibility this unique high school experience. When I think back to the decision to attend ACT I had many concerns, all of which have been unfounded or resolved allowing my son a customized high school program with strong academics and a fabulous arts experience! In retrospect, I am grateful for many things, small class size, honors, AP and college level classes on site, online and at QVCC and ECSU enhancing the course options available through a small staff as well as the receptiveness to parents and opportunities to visit the school and enjoy performances. Mostly, I am thankful that in four years I have never once had to coax or prod my son out of bed on a school day to attend - he was always up and excited to get to school. This I believe to be the strongest testimony to the ACT Community!” — ACT Parent 49
K-12 Student Services
QUINEBAUG MIDDLE COLLEGE (QMC) QMC Enrollment QMC reached full enrollment, with 111 students from 17 communities throughout the region; there was a waiting list of 53 students. QMC’s new building on the QVCC campus, currently under construction, will help to address the growing interest of area students in the opportunities available at QMC.
service as the school’s Peer Mediators and members of the Judicial Board. • All QMC students participate in CPR and first-aid administration training through which they become eligible to obtain Red Cross certification. One (1) student who completed the program this year reported having performed CPR on his medically fragile mother, which may have saved her life. Opportunities & Collaboration • QMC and QVCC: 67 QMC students were enrolled in 49 college courses at QVCC during the 2012-2013 school year. Approximately 60% of students earned grades of B or higher in their college courses, and 5 students taking college classes during fall 2013 made the QVCC Dean’s List. In addition, 3 QMC staff members are currently teaching courses at the college. • ACT and QMC International Field Experience: 12 students and 4 staff members from ACT and QMC went abroad on a 10-day field experience to Italy, where they explored the art and architecture, history and culture of Genoa, Rome, Pompeii, Venice and Florence.
QMC students, many of whom are non-traditional learners, benefit from smaller, more personal learning environments. Expanding Curriculum • Eight (8) new courses and learning opportunities were added to the curriculum at QMC in 2012-2013. Courses in Italian II, World Literature, Native American History and Culture, Public Speaking, Consumer Mathematics, Teen Outreach Program, Cultural Connections and Peer Mentoring offer students opportunities to achieve their graduation requirements and complement the courses available to QMC students through QVCC. • A course in Environmental Science, taught by a QMC faculty member, is articulated with QVCC as an offering to its college students. • All QMC students participate in a 6-week program to become certified peer mediators; some students choose to continue to develop and apply these skills through
QMC Student Achievement & Accomplishments • 44% of QMC students received academic achievement recognition for their work during the fall semester of 2012-2013; 35% achieved honors (all grades above A and B averages) or high honors (all grades above A averages). • 32 of 33 QMC seniors graduated on time in June 2013, achieving a 33% average GPA improvement from Grade 9 to 10, a 52% improved absence rate, and 70% improved credit standing by the end of their first year (as sophomores) at QMC. • QMC seniors have received acceptances for an increasingly diverse range of colleges, including Sage College, Utica College, Johnson & Wales University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Western Connecticut State University, Ripon College, Richmond College, Becker College and QVCC. • A graduating senior is creating a QMC Alumni
“… I have a future now and I’m just so happy. I will have a life, and I will succeed. Thank you.”
— K., QMC Sophomore
“… Coming to this school has made me think about life in a whole new light. I see success in my future, in social and intellectual ways. I have more of a reason to live and more of a reason to smile. My pessimism has gone. For that I am thankful to have been able to come to QMC.” — K., QMC Sophomore “… I have realized a lot about myself. I am a completely different person. I’m not just doing my work to get it done. I am doing it because I want to and because other teachers care about my future. I used to be afraid of thinking about my future but now I am starting to figure things out. If I hadn’t transferred schools I would not be where I am today.” — M., QMC Sophomore 50
K-12 Student Services Association, enabling alumni to stay connected with each other and continue the positive support they receive from their peers.
CAPITOL THEATER ARTS ACADEMY (CTAA)
Community Collaborations & Partnerships • Sponsorship Award: Received a $1,000 sponsorship grant from the Savings Institute toward the production of the Summer Musical Theater Program. • Community Performances: Participants in CTAA’s Summer Musical Theater Program performed in Willimantic’s Third Thursday Street Festival, presenting pieces from Singin’ in the Rain and other small projects. CTAA also performed at the McSweeney Senior Center (now Windham Senior Center) and Regency Rehabilitation during the summer. • Community Collaboration: CTAA collaborated with EASTCONN’s after-school program at Windham Heights, Arts in the Afternoon, providing space for a gallery exhibit, a day of arts programming during April vacation and tickets to the CTAA production of 13. CTAA & ACT: Opportunities and Collaborations CTAA and ACT share classrooms and performance spaces at EASTCONN’s Capitol Theater in Willimantic. Their co-location allows us to maximize facility use through extended-day programming, and provides many opportunities for student and faculty collaboration.
The CTAA student cast, grades 4-12, for the Broadway musical“13” put on sold-out performances to rave reviews. Expanding Enrollment & Programming • Participation in CTAA, EASTCONN’s regional, afterschool community arts program, grew by 10% this year to a total of 173 students. • Performances this year included the musicals Singin’ in the Rain and 13, as well as The Nutcracker. The annual Dance Recital in May showcases the talents of CTAA’s dance students; all shows were nearly or completely sold out. • The Summer Musical Theater Program enrolled 43 children, who participated in last summer’s production of Singin’ in the Rain. • Developed a new Summer Musical Theater band program, with several CTAA students performing alongside professional musicians as members of Singin’ in the Rain’s live pit orchestra.
• In the last 2 school years, 11 CTAA students applied to and/or enrolled in ACT, while 16 ACT students have attended CTAA classes; this fall, CTAA’s ballet class provided ACT students with additional instruction, enabling them to advance to higher course levels at ACT in coming years. • Between 2010 and 2013, 36 ACT students worked in paid or volunteer positions for CTAA, becoming role models for CTAA students and enhancing both their learning and motivation. Most Summer Theater Program volunteers are able to earn all of their ACT-required volunteer hours in one summer; many come back to work with CTAA again.
SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS Educational Vocational Center (EVC) & Northeast Regional Program (NRP) NRP and EVC programs merge best practices in academic, vocational and clinical programming to meet the needs of students in grades K -12 with social, emotional and
“Our family can’t imagine life without CTAA. Both kids are eager to learn which production will come next. We are just so thankful that CTAA can provide such a reasonably priced program that both of our children enjoy and excel at. Please share our thanks with everyone at the program. It is essential that everyone know that this program truly makes a difference.” — Kerry and Jason C., CTAA Parents “As a parent of a son who has been involved at CTAA, Matthew has become more secure in himself because of CTAA programs. The staff is professional and very informative in their field of expertise.” — Judy H., CTAA Parent 51
K-12 Student Services behavioral issues. For these non-traditional learners, NRP and EVC provide integrated, hands-on day treatment programs.
• Student Outcomes: 7 seniors are graduated in June 2013, and 10-20% of our students will return to less restrictive settings. We are currently collaborating with QMC on a transition plan for 4 of our students, who will transfer to the magnet school. Autism Program & Services Our Autism Program has grown to serve 7 students from 5 districts (including Pomfret, Killingly, Windham, Andover, and Mansfield) in 2012-2013. We provide comprehensive educational and behavioral services, with staff from multiple disciplines in a model that follows best practices grounded in applied behavioral analysis. Inclusion remains the Autism Program’s ultimate goal and drives the philosophy, staffing and instructional programming for our students.
An EVC teacher helps her young students with a hands-on journal entry as part of a long-term classroom project. • Full Enrollment: Reached full capacity, serving 76 students from 22 different local communities. • Improving Behavioral Supports: Collaborated with UConn in the integration of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). Enhanced behavioral support in our programs and improved the success rate of our interventions and assessment techniques. Creation of a School-Wide Information System (SWIS) resulted in fewer restraints or seclusions. Collaboration with state and local police resulted in no arrests at either site during 2012-13 (down from 1 arrest last year, but down significantly from previous years), which, in turn, allowed for the use of alternative approaches to discipline, such as community-based juvenile review boards. • Expansion of Extended Programming: Served 34 students in the 2012 Extended School Year program, nearly double the students served in the previous year; we are on target to serve 40 in 2013, an increase of nearly 18%. Increased family collaboration and connections through 8 evening opportunities that included family nights and parent support groups.
• Provided consultation and training services to 4 school districts to develop in-district programming for children with autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disabilities. In-district programming enables students to be educated in their home schools and provides parents the opportunity for continued participation in their school community.
An Autism Program student receives direct instruction, aligned with his individualized education plan, aimed at helping to prepare him for day-to-day challenges.
“When sending my students to the EVC and NRP programs, I know they are in good hands and that the staff will work hard to assist the students in reaching their full potential. I feel that these are extremely strong programs and I will continue to look to them when outplacing my students.” — Amanda Brown, Director of Special Education “As the Resident State Trooper in Columbia for the last 12 years, I have witnessed first-hand the positive growth and improved Communications between EASTCONN and Troopers that are requested to respond to the school. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated group of Professionals who understand the balance of Public Safety, Education and the unique needs of the students. I look forward to continued growth and service to the needs of the students, Staff and community at large.” — Tfc Don Aitken #408, Connecticut State Police, Columbia Resident State Trooper 52
K-12 Student Services • Transition supports are in place for 1 student, who is being actively transitioned back to the sending district. Time spent in the home school is being increased, with the student being jointly supported by EASTCONN and home school staff; time in-district is expected to double to 2 full days by fall 2013.
How much did we do?
Autism consultation services and professional development were provided to 14 districts, up from 3 last year
Expanding Capacity: Psychological/Behavioral Services Our member districts are experiencing an increase in the identification of students with autism spectrum and behavioral disorders, while also focusing their efforts on education reform initiatives that require a shift in emphasis to systems-change, data-driven decision-making and school climate. Based on this need, we have increased our capacity to provide psychological/behavioral services to our districts. • Added a licensed psychologist and a Ph.D.-level Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) to provide diagnostic assessments, behavioral assessments, consultation and training. • Grew from 3 districts to 14, for whom we provide consultative services and professional development. Districts included: Canterbury, Chaplin, Eastford, Griswold, Mansfield, Plainfield, Pomfret, Sprague, Tolland, Thompson ,Union, Voluntown, Willington and Windham. Services included: – Assessment and evaluation services to 6 districts. – 15 professional development sessions: in 4 districts for paraprofessionals; to special education teachers and school psychologists; and to ConnCASE members. – Collaborated with 4 districts to develop autism services within the home school. – Supervised 1 member district’s BCBA intern. – Provided full-time school psychology services in 1 district. – Delivered training in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to 2 districts. – Provided systems analyses for psychological/ behavioral services in 1 district. Related Services Group (RSG) RSG supported a total of 387 students, from preschool to
21 years of age, through direct therapy, co-teaching, classroombased therapy, and professional collaboration, across a wide range of settings. RSG includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, an audiologist and speech-language pathologists.
• Direct Therapy to Students: Of 387 students served (and their educational teams), 65 students received support in occupational therapy, 198 received support in physical therapy and 124 received support from speech-language pathologists.
• Supporting District Staff: 3 districts (Killingly, Hampton and Region 19) purchased new or enhanced contract services from Related Services, allowing the districts to expand their continuum of student services without having to hire additional staff.
• RSG Center: EASTCONN has a growing library of assessment materials for use in all related services, including psychological services. The opening of the Related Services Group Center, located in the EASTCONN Assistive Technology Library, has provided a central location for housing testing materials, computerized scoring assistance and a resource library of items used in therapy. The RSG resources library allows therapists to experiment with various therapy tools to determine their use for students in our programs and districts, and to borrow new items for use in therapy sessions.
AT trainings and workshops demonstrate the latest Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) technology to improve learning outcomes for children across the region.
“Choosing EASTCONN has been an excellent choice for my 8-year-old son thus far! He is excited to go to program everyday! My child is making new friends and feels so good about himself. This program [has] been able to provide a very individualized program for my child. The staff communicate very well as they also listen to my concerns and input. Thank you, Putnam EASTCONN. You have been a true blessing to my son and I.” — Heather D., Parent 53
K-12 Student Services Assistive Technology (AT) • Services and Staff Expansion: 15 districts received assessment services from our AT team. Provided 23 districts with individualized training and consultation and 23 districts elected to purchase an AT Consortium package. • Vendor Partnerships: As a result of partnerships with a variety of vendors, students have access to AAC devices for assessment and trial. EASTCONN served as a host site for vendor-sponsored training and provided 3 Open House opportunities, which were well-attended, to see and discuss the use of assistive devices. • Professional Development: Provided a variety of professional development to districts, including a total of 61 trainings that reached 346 educators and service providers. Five (5) region-wide AT sessions were attended by nearly 150 educational professionals. Among the topics most in demand was keeping pace with the rapid changes in technology, and in particular, the use of the tablets and selected applications for both their communication and educational use. • Promoting Awareness: The AT team promotes awareness of resources that are available in our region in a variety of ways. AT distributes an e-mail to districts with a Featured Item of the Week, with information regarding how to borrow the featured item or obtain further information. Information about those items is archived on the EASTCONN Web site, as well as on the Connecticut Tech Act Project Web site. AT also contributes to the Connecticut Tech Act newsletter, which is distributed to special education directors and staff across the region.
Young Adult Program Continued to provide progressive transition programming for 4 young adults, ages 18-21, with developmental disabilities, through meaningful vocational experiences and the development of independent living skills. Strong partnerships have been developed with families, adult service providers, the Connecticut departments of Education and Developmental Services and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, which enable the program to provide successful transition-to-adulthood supports for each program participant after they have completed their public school education. There have been 6 new inquiries for referrals from 4 towns within our region, 2 of which are from towns that have not previously used the program’s services.
2012-2013 Challenges EVC & NRP Capacity Issues Lack of space and program capacity is a problem, now that both EVC and NRP programs are fully enrolled. The NRP facility is too small for current demand, with approximately 20 students unable to be accommodated within the existing program. Given the needs of our students for mental health and psychiatric services, providing adequate clinical programming is essential, and finding qualified, high-quality staff has been challenging. We continue to seek additional community-based mental health services to supplement our in-house clinical supports. ACT Highly competitive colleges require advanced lab sciences for their incoming applicants. These are difficult to provide, given the physical limitations of ACT’s current laboratory facilities. Magnet School Transportation Transportation issues for schools of choice continue to be a logistical and financial challenge, since non-partner districts are not required to provide transportation for their students. Technology Demands In order to allow for the creation and maintenance of multiple pathways for student learning through new technologies that are increasingly embedded in instructional practices at our magnet and special education programs, new purchases, updating and upgrades are needed.
As part of her progressive transition programming, this Young Adult Program student is learning new data entry skills. 54
Regional Shared Staffing Needs It is vitally important to be able to respond to requests from districts seeking part-time or temporary Related Services and special education staff. Finding highly
K-12 Student Services qualified staff, particularly in shortage areas such as occupational therapy and speech-language pathology, who are willing to work on a temporary or part-time basis at a level of compensation that is cost-effective for our districts, continued to be a challenge in 2012-2013.
Plans & Implications for 2012-2013 NEASC Accreditation Continue to progress towards the attainment of NEASC accreditation for our 2 magnet schools, ACT and QMC. QMC • Pursue the 9th-grade pilot that will enroll up to 20 incoming freshmen this fall, in anticipation of QMC building expansion; if successful, QMC will enroll students in grades 9-12. • QMC’s new, $22 million addition to the QVCC main building, scheduled for completion in 2014, will help accommodate expanding enrollment at QMC. The new, 38,000-sq.-ft. addition will include renovations to the existing cafeteria and library, as well as provide 6 new classrooms, a half-gym, an art room, a special education room, student gathering places, 2 new science labs, a fitness room, a music room, a health suite, 2 collaborative activity rooms and administrative and faculty offices. The project will allow QMC to expand from 105 to 250 students.
An Educational and Vocational Center (EVC) student works on an online project as part of his education plan. Investigative Services In addition to increased demand for our residency and truancy support services, we are experiencing increased requests for assistance in developing new or revised school safety plans and protocols. It is anticipated that demand will continue to grow, given new school requirements included in the newly enacted Connecticut gun-control laws.
Transition Planning Network Expand services for both our internal and external customers through our newly developed transition-planning What difference will it make? network. Staff from a variety of programs will collaborate The new $22 million addition will in the network, which includes allow Quinebaug Middle College to representatives from our expand from 105 to 250 students and Educational Services programs include 9th-graders for the first time (serving kindergartners through Assistive Technology students aged 21), EASTCONN’s (AT) Teaching and Learning division Continue to fund the and Adult Education. The transition Assistive Technology network will expand the services Consortium, now that AT’s award from the Connecticut that are available to students and schools, and will provide Tech Act Project has been extended through 2014. Funding essential information through in-service training and will allow AT to bring a package of training and services other communications systems to better serve students in to school districts as it also supports the use of assistive the areas of transition services, career planning and job technologies through the AT lending library, available to readiness. EASTCONN will be listed in a comprehensive all AT Consortium member districts. guide to transition resources and services publication that is produced as an outreach to local communities in Special Education Programs cooperation with Connecticut’s Bureau of Rehabilitative Accommodate students in the southeastern corner of the Services (BRS), the CSDE and Department of Mental EASTCONN region when NRP and EVC expand with a Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), as well as the third location in Plainfield. Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center (CPAC), Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs), and the State Education Resource Center (SERC). • Through collaboration with QVCC, QMC students will be able to enroll in a new manufacturing technology program offered at the college in 2013-2014.
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Overview Marketing and Communications is responsible for ensuring that current and potential customers, as well as other key stakeholders, have the information they need to access the agency’s employees, programs, products and services. This is accomplished in a number of ways, through the agency’s Web site, www.eastconn.org, and social media channels; through the publication and dissemination of a variety of print and digital collateral materials; and through the management of special events. In addition, Marketing and Communications provides direct services and support to colleagues throughout the agency to ensure that they have the skills and materials they need to communicate effectively about the features and benefits of their programs. Our division also provides the information colleagues need to explain other, related agency services and to make appropriate referrals; and is available to help design and implement communications strategies on a fee-for-service basis.
Goals 1. Member LEAs and other key customers, as appropriate, are knowledgeable about EASTCONN’s capabilities, understand how they benefit from them, and are able to use that information to make decisions about purchasing and/or accessing our programs, products and services.
streamlined delivery process and $2,600 in savings on newsletter postage.
• For the 6th consecutive year, our publications were recognized by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) for Excellence in Communications and featured at their statewide conference in the fall of 2012; the 7 CABE awards this year included first-place honors for the agency’s newsletter Connections, the 2011-2012 Annual Report and the 2012-2013 Programs and Services catalog; as well as honorable mention for 2012’s I Have a Student, the 2011-2012 Annual Board Update, the 16-month pop-up calendar and the 20112012 agency overview PowerPoint presentation to the Executive Board.
• Produced customized packets for special events and audiences, including member LEAs, state and federal legislators, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), the Connecticut Board of Education and others, enabling them to better understand the agency’s purpose and impact on those we serve.
2. EASTCONN program staff are able to communicate effectively with their customers (both internal and external) about the features and benefits of their own, as well as other EASTCONN programs, products and services, resulting in greater participation in, or utilization of, our offerings. 3. Marketing and Communications staff are assisting member LEAs and others to expand awareness of, and support for, public education.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments STRATEGIC PRINT COMMUNICATIONS Agency Collateral Materials • Designed, produced and distributed print collateral materials describing the features and benefits of all EASTCONN programs and services twice annually to 350 key decision-makers in our 36 member districts, including the Programs and Services Directory and I Have a Student. Also distributed were the agency’s 2011-2012 Annual Report, a 16-month pop-up photo calendar, 4 quarterly editions of the Connections newsletter, the 2011-2012 Annual Board Update, and numerous other EASTCONN print materials. Materials were also placed in brochure racks in all agency sites and made available for viewing or download online. Renegotiated printing contract, which resulted in a more 56
Seven (7) EASTCONN publications earned awards in CABE’s statewide 2012 Excellence in Communications contest.
Marketing & Communications Program-Specific Marketing Support Assisted program directors and their staff in the design and production of program-specific materials, including 64 new brochures/flyers, 8 course catalogs, 18 print ads, 6 posters, 5 fact sheets, as well as 9 electronic mailings, promoting specific program events and services. Provided graphic/logo design assistance on 5 occasions, as well as Web page design, multi-media presentation support, invitations, meeting and workshop handouts, handbooks and more. Provided, on average, 40 hours a month of copy-editing services, including speeches, grant proposals, Web site copy and more.
DIGITAL MEDIA INITIATIVES @eastconn: Distributed 9 @eastconn e-blasts, providing 5,499 subscribers, an increase of 234% over last year, with regular updates that link to upcoming agency events, professional development workshops and other useful links and resources; they were opened, on average, by 24% of recipients, with 787, or 18% of readers clicking through the entire document. The number of recipients increased substantially, due to a more accurate and efficient process of obtaining e-mail addresses from Conference Office registrants who requested subscriptions.
Providing content for newsletters and press releases requires staff to obtain news about successful programs first-hand.
eConnections: The quarterly eConnections electronic newsletter was distributed to 2,720 subscribers, an increase of 43% over last year. This electronic publication features key stories from the agency’s quarterly Connections newsletter with hypertext links to EASTCONN contacts and additional online resources, with 20% of recipients opening it on a regular basis. Employee Update: Our internal newsletter, the Employee Update, is distributed electronically to 550 employees 4 times a year, providing all staff with important information relating to their employment, their colleagues, our facilities and our programs. Additional copies are posted on bulletin boards in our main facilities. Our employees are our greatest asset when it comes to answering questions that customers have about EASTCONN and our programs and services. www.eastconn.org: • New Web site: Launched new, redesigned Web site, our 5th redesign to date, responding to user feedback; selected a more user-friendly application to support our planned decentralization of content management across the agency in an effort to promote easy and timely posting of content that is more relevant for different populations of users. Among the improvements are dynamic, customer-driven pages supported by changes made to our Programs and Services database, featured videos, and a completely redesigned “Register EASTCONN” landing page with improved functionality.
• Web Graphic Standards: A new document, outlining specific agency graphic standards for use by each program’s Web content managers, will make it easier for them to create a consistent look and feel as they design and provide content for their department Web pages. These new, vetted graphic standards, which will also create a more positive, consistent navigation experience for visitors to our program Web pages, should be posted on the agency Intranet by June.
• Traffic Report: A Web Analytics Dashboard was created, enabling us to more easily monitor and assess traffic on our Web site and inform decisions about how we need to improve form and function. Traffic increased by 1.8%
“People who watch ‘Education Matters’ are happy to learn about programs and activities that are developed for different constituencies. EASTCONN designs programs and developmental opportunities based on the needs they have identified in the diverse communities they serve. Whether it is literacy, ESL, GED, technology or support for teachers and students in our k-12 systems, there is something for everyone seeking to improve their lives. Dissemination of these opportunities through our show is effective because we share information in both English and Spanish, and transmit shows at a variety of schedules.” — Dr. Xae Alicia Reyes, educator and host of CTV14’s “Education Matters” TV Show “The EASTCONN Marketing and Communications Department has allowed me to more effectively describe our high-quality programs when reaching out to the community and our customers. I appreciate their timeliness, the pleasant interactions we have during the creative process and the professional quality of the materials that we ultimately develop together.” — Cyndi Wells, EASTCONN Staff Developer and Interdistrict Grant Coordinator 57
Marketing & Communications over last year with an average of 6,162 “unique” visitors monthly, 62.6% of whom were returning and 37.4% new. On average, our visitors spent 3 minutes viewing 2.2 pages per visit or 29,723 monthly page views; over 17% spent 3 minutes or more. Our most frequently visited page continues to be our job listings, allowing us to save both time and money recruiting job candidates through high-cost newspaper advertising. Eleven percent (11%) of our visitors came via mobile devices, 78% of which were evenly split between iPads and iPhones. The extrapolation of monthly averages indicates that by June 30, 2013, we will have had 74,000 unique visitors spending more than 8,000 hours viewing 161,520 agency pages.
The agency’s employee Intranet helps staff get the information and work forms they need, wherever there is Internet access.
Intranet Enhancements Continued to enhance our online employee Intranet so that employees can access agency information 24/7, no matter where they are, as long as they have an Internet connection. With many of our employees providing services off-site, • Web Page Support to they now have access to forms, Programs: Worked with our employee directory, customer How well did we do? program directors and staff databases, policies and other to produce new content and valuable information that enables We will have had 74,000 unique design for division Web them to be more productive visitors to our Web site, spending pages, following the launch when they are off-site. Among 8,000+ hours viewing 161,520 of the agency’s redesigned the new features are an easily pages, from July 2012-June 2013 Web site. Specifically, accessible log-in function for worked with key division Web site content managers and staff to expand the number improvements to School Dude and quality of Web-based, online Teaching and Learning access, enabling employees to more easily report IT and resources and links for educators; worked with Adult facilities problems. Programs staff to redesign Web pages aimed at adult learners; and assisted the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) administrator by helping SOCIAL MEDIA INITIATIVES plan and produce targeted content and graphic design for ECHIP’s new Web pages, housed on the agency’s Blogs: Over the last year, a series of blog posts from site. Also participated in Joomla Web-based training of Teaching and Learning, Student Services, Related content managers from Teaching and Learning, Early Services, Planning and Development, and the Eastern Childhood and Adult Programs, preparing them to Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP) manage their own division Web pages and content. administrator have been submitted for the agency’s Web site, demonstrating our staff’s broad range of educational insights, perspectives and expertise, while enriching our Web site’s content. All blog posts are made with Search “This year, Adult Programs needed to modify its pages on the EASTCONN Web site to better meet the needs of its customers. While that sounds like a simple thing to do, it is, in actuality, a complicated process. We knew what we wanted our Web site pages to do, but had no idea how to make the changes we wanted. With the help of [staff] from EASTCONN’s Marketing Department, and [staff] from EASTCONN’s IT Department, our Adult Programs’ section of EASTCONN’s Web site is now what we had envisioned.” — Suzanne Cimochowski, Assistant Director, EASTCONN Adult Programs “The Marketing and Communications team has been instrumental in working with Teaching & Learning staff in the design and development of our new Web pages. Together with the IT Department, they have provided thoughtful guidance and support to us that have helped us to refocus and reorganize important information and resources needed by our districts. The end result is truly something that will improve communication with our districts.” — Jim Huggins, Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology, EASTCONN 58
Marketing & Communications Engine Optimization in mind. Vetted links to outside, highquality education blogs have also been added, providing our customers and Web visitors with an opportunity to glean new perspectives from educators around the country.
to more effectively track former students and their postclassroom progress, information that is required by EWIB, their funder. A new Continuing Education page was initiated in the spring, with the expectation that it will ease communication challenges surrounding class schedules, expand the program’s marketing capacity at no cost, and help recruit new students and instructors, particularly those who are part of an as-yet-untapped younger demographic — a group that Continuing Education wants to attract. Now in its second year, Adult Programs reports that their Out-ofSchool Youth (OSY) Facebook page has led to increased attendance and improved contact with OSY students. The Facebook page for Capitol Theater Arts Academy (CTAA) has grown substantially, increasing its “friend” base from 25 to 174, resulting in greatly improved, program-related communications among staff, students and their families.
CUSTOMER RELATIONS MANAGEMENT The agency’s Facebook page helps inform our “friends” about education-related subjects and current events. Facebook • Increasing Fan Base: Grew the agency Facebook page to 235 fans, up 37% from last year. Through our Facebook fans, we are connected to 56,703 of their friends, an increase of 68%. The demographic we are reaching is 79% female, with almost 75% of our fans between the ages of 25 and 54, the age band for teachers and parents, our target demographic. On average, 58% of our fans view our Facebook page 2 or more times a week, an increase of almost 14%, while almost 30% check it 4 or more times a week. • Increased Posts: Continued our weekly Facebook content initiative in-house, where each program unit in the agency posts, on a rotating basis, an item of interest to the general public. As of the end of April 2013, there were 96 posts. This initiative increased the variety and frequency of our posts, as well as providing an opportunity to familiarize staff across the agency with both the ease of use and potential opportunities posed by Facebook in promoting their programs. Increased the “virility” of our posts through the addition of links, photos, and questions, resulting in increased numbers of “fans” clicking on our posts, commenting, “liking” or sharing them with friends. • Program Pages: Established several new Facebook pages to support internal programs’ efforts to connect with current and past students. A new Trail Blazers Facebook page has enabled its summer youth-employment staff
Customer Contact Database: • Our agency-wide Customer Contact Database was reviewed and updated. Key staff were assigned to maintain accuracy.
• A “Welcome Letter” initiative was introduced with the database, producing a welcome letter whenever new, key LEA staff are entered into the database; letters are followed by a personal phone call from a key EASTCONN Leadership Team member.
Elected-Official Communications Continued to provide our local, state and federal elected officials with informational updates on education-related issues in northeastern Connecticut through written and in-person communications. Copies of the agency’s Annual Report and Annual Board Update are provided to elected officials, so they can better understand the impact that EASTCONN, the RESC Alliance and our member districts have on public education, as well as the ongoing challenges this group is committed to addressing. Numerous photos were provided by our Communications staff to legislators, such as photos sent for social media use to state Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams, Jr., following his URSA/NASA Legislative Breakfast visit to Hampton; and to Congressman Joe Courtney, following his working visit to Hampton to discuss regional mental health challenges with the agency Executive Director,
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with your team the most on various projects to promote the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP)… [including] the creation of ECHIP’s first marketing piece, ECHIP’s Web site, Education Matters appearance, ECHIP/EASTCONN wellness initiative, to name a few… The work is always timely and represents ECHIP positively and as a professional program. ECHIP is the first of its kind, so marketing this program clearly was imperative… Thank you so much for working with me and helping me succeed.” — Larisa Carr, Administrator, Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program [ECHIP] 59
Marketing & Communications
TRADITIONAL MEDIA INITIATIVES
22 positive front-page newspaper stories about agency initiatives and student programs, as well as 17 agencygenerated stories in the Hartford Courant’s Sunday “My Towns” section, were a direct result of releases and staff communication with regional newspaper editors and reporters. Broad press coverage of the most positive agency programs and services has helped refine the public’s understanding of what the agency does and offers.
EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT
Helped produce 8 “Education Matters” TV talk shows this year, featuring topics that are relevant to local education. Charter Cable & “Education Matters” • Increased public awareness of our programs and services, especially within the greater Charter Cable TV region (30,000 households across northeastern Connecticut) through our continued media initiative on the “Education Matters” show; helped produce 8 shows, 2 more than last year, highlighting education topics of strategic interest to the region, including: “The Faces of ESL,” “Adult Education Opportunities through EASTCONN,” “School Climate,” “Cyber-Bullying and Solutions,” “Windham’s New Charles Barrows STEM Academy,” “About the Eastern Connecticut Health Insurance Program (ECHIP),” “QMC Updates,” and “A Look at EASTCONN’s Windham Heights After-School Program.” Have again secured permission to post the shows on our Web site, enhancing the multi-media features offered and expanding the information that is available to customers.
Crisis Communications Support In collaboration with the Director of Education Services, provided crisis management support, as well as communications and media guidance, to a member district during their response to a student incident and the subsequent statewide media coverage. Windham STEM Magnet Student Recruitment Support Provided Windham Public Schools with recruitment materials for their new STEM magnet school; produced a student recruitment “playbook” with step-by-step strategies, a complete English/Spanish student application packet; promotional materials, and exhibit equipment for open houses and information sessions delivered on the road. District staff noted that our assistance contributed to the large number of applications received.
• Of particular note is that the dual-language approach to this show expands our reach into the greater Windhamarea Spanish-speaking population, providing them with access to topical education-related information of benefit to them and their families.
Newspaper and Radio Coverage Distributed 60-plus press releases and/or media invitations to cover agency programs, resulting in newspaper, radio and Web coverage (at no direct cost to the agency) estimated to be worth more than $70,000. A total of
Positive news coverage results from timely press releases and other communications with media about agency programs.
“The CTV14 Public Access Show, ‘Education Matters,’ has greatly benefited from the co-production efforts of EASTCONN’s Marketing and Communications [department]. [Staff] has recommended and booked numerous guests who, being experts in their field, have provided our viewers with an in-depth look into many facets of education that cannot be found in any other media outlet.” — Scott Hill, Producer, Charter Cable TV “Education Matters” 60
Marketing & Communications
2012-2013 Challenges Premature Web Launch Even though our new Web site was still in development when our former site was irreparably hacked, we made the decision to launch the new site ahead of schedule, rather than spending time and resources shoring up the old Web site. Significant time was spent addressing the many issues that arose as a result of the earlier-than-anticipated launch and some features of the new Web site, such as the customer landing pages, were delayed until more pressing launch problems were addressed. Online Content Management As we continue to transition from centralized to decentralized content management, we’ve encountered many growing pains, including the challenge of obtaining staff blogs that are post-ready; posts for the agency Facebook page; and dealing with the software limitations of our open-source Web site platform, Joomla. The rollout of fully content-managed program Web pages has been slower than anticipated, due to division staff’s other agency commitments and challenges related to group training schedules. The new employee Bulletin Board, located on the Intranet, proved to be a disappointment with little employee use; the Bulletin Board has subsequently been removed. Expanding Needs for Tech Support As a result of the transition to a greater use of digital media, the Marketing division continues to grow increasingly dependent on IT staff. Our goal of having Web pages for every agency school and student program in place by June 2013 was not met, due to the need for IT support for page design, staff training and ongoing support beyond that which was originally projected.
visitors and growing, must zoom and scroll to navigate. During the next year, our internal Web Development Team will pursue the design and content of a new, mobile version of our Web site. It will be optimized for smaller screens and display only the most important agency and program information, easing navigation, accessibility and usefulness for our customers. • Intranet Improvements: Plans to provide agency-wide staff training, in collaboration with the IT Department, will enable program staff to update their own sections of the Intranet for the first time, facilitating the timely display of up-to-date documents and other useful, program-generated information, such as Human Resources and Finance Department forms. Training will allow program staff to be more self-sufficient, as they are trained to update their own documents, streamlining the posting process and creating easier access for off-site employees, who often need important forms during both daytime and after hours. Strategic Communications Support to Member Districts Continue supporting member districts in low- and no-cost ways, and seek outside funding to help provide strategic communications assistance to districts. Communications Support Package Offer package of low/no-cost communications services that our LEA members and others can access to assist them with effective messaging around their key initiatives; have produced an informational brochure describing these services. New and Expanded Markets Continue identifying potential customers for Marketing and Communications services beyond our member districts, and promote our services to them.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 Customer Data Initiatives Continue to collaborate with colleagues on identifying and sourcing better customer data in order to produce useful and informative customer profiles that describe the level, quality and impact of the services they access. Collaborate with colleagues in our Technology Solutions group to determine how to best survey the 7,000+ customers in our Customer Contact Database so that we can better customize our communications, according to their interests and requests. Digital Content Management • Web V: As the number of mobile-device users increases, we will need to explore how to optimize both the design and functionality of the Web site for mobile platforms. Currently, mobile visitors to our Web site, 11% of all
Above is a sampling of EASTCONN’s award-winning publications, produced year-round for the benefit of member districts. 61
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT Overview Planning and Development provides various services to internal agency departments and member districts, such as assessing needs and capacity; designing and developing programs, products and services; and identifying and applying to funding sources to expand education and support opportunities for learners of all ages. This agency division reviews and evaluates the impact and outcomes of programs and services, as well. Our work focuses on helping internal and external customers realize their goals by providing opportunities for educational success through a complement of planning, design, development, delivery, and assessment and evaluation strategies.
Goals 1. To collaborate with EASTCONN agency staff in developing and supporting rigorous, research-supported learning programs, services and products that better prepare learners of all ages for a changing academic environment and a technologically infused global economy. 2. To develop seamless relationships with our region’s school districts and expand our partnerships within a broad constituency of community representatives as a means of improving learning opportunities for students of all ages and strengthening our collective ability to identify and attract funding initiatives.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments
outcomes and accelerate student progress. The program is situated in our Adult Learning Centers in Danielson and Willimantic and provides an alternative pathway to learning success for those students most likely to leave school before graduation. Annually, this program will serve as many as 40 youth, who might otherwise fail to graduate from their district schools. How well did we do?
Interdistrict Grants demonstrate significant, positive impact on student learning outcomes with an 82% increase in identified content areas and a 90% increase in cultural competence
Interdistrict Grant Developments • New Interdistrict Grant Submissions: Three (3) new, innovative, interdisciplinary learning programs were added to EASTCONN’s existing Interdistrict offerings, representing a 12% increase in the potential number of students who can participate in these powerful learning experiences. Elementary Connections, Making Waves, and What Does it Mean to be Green? will collectively serve 700 students, grades 2-6, in sustained, integrated programs, featuring the arts, engineering, English language arts, math, social studies and technology. Planning & Development Director Maureen Crowley discusses grant opportunities with a Teaching & Learning team. Supporting Under-Credited, Older Youth Getting on Track to Graduate is a new learning option for at-risk students, using a personalized, blended learning approach, including small-group and customized instructional sessions, comprehensive learning assessment and support, internships and technology to boost learning 62
• Outcome Data: EASTCONN’s existing Interdistrict Grants demonstrate significant positive impact on student learning outcomes, including up to an 82% increase in identified content areas, and up to a 90% increase in cultural competence. As an outcome effect, students are better prepared for rigorous learning in selected domains and more culturally competent in working with diverse populations.
Planning & Development • AT Tools: Sought subsidies for new, costly assistive technology resources that will expand service options for our districts’ special education teachers, their students and families. Most of these assistive technology tools are too costly for any individual district to obtain, but through our regional approach we will continue to open new avenues for learning for students with disabilities by providing greater access to an ever-expanding breadth of specialized resources.
Colleagues compared notes during a Grants Development Council, which helps districts find alternative funding sources. Regional Grant Development Council Promoted opportunities for school districts to collaborate with one another with the intention of increasing their grant submissions and obtaining increased funding from a variety of private and public sources that might otherwise be beyond the reach of any single district. As the result, at least 4 new grants were submitted. Among other learning opportunities, these grant funds will support literacy enrichment activities for young, struggling readers, resulting in more students reading on-target come September, as summer reading skills-decay is minimized. Teaching Matters Blog Produced a blog focused on topical educational issues impacting today’s teachers and offered another avenue for sharing information about local and timely data, program needs, regional trends and issues and research relating to classroom practices. Discussions are meant to generate and share insights from educators about teaching trends and barriers for which regional solutions can be sought and new models proposed. Assistive Technology (AT) Resource Expansion • Expanding AT Services: Developed a new service application that will help expand our assistive technology reach, including the ability to offer assessment, evaluation and instructional support services to the region’s individuals over 21 years of age with vision and hearing impairments.
EASTCONN’s grant-funded AT library allows special education teachers to try new technologies with students at no cost. Community Collaboration • Collaborative Learning Opportunities: Continued our collaboration with several community-based organizations that serve the northeast region in order to expand professional development opportunities for educators and provide authentic, enriched learning opportunities for students. Working with such community-based groups such as Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), the WindhamARTS Collaborative, Thread City Development, Inc., the Windham Chamber of Commerce and others, we are helping to promote authentic and enriched learning opportunities for students of all ages. • The Big Read: Collaborated with ECSU on a second submission of The Big Read program, focusing on motivating and improving the literacy skills of struggling readers. Our first engagement with The Big Read, 2012-2013, resulted in an exciting public performance featuring ACT students’ interpretations of the selected text Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Stories.
“Access to [your] wealth of knowledge about grant writing, being part of a network of other districts who are also looking for grants to bounce ideas off of - and access to the expensive databases for grants that we could never afford to own in our district are three things to appreciate about working with the Grant Development Council. We have found and submitted four grants so far this year, which we would not have done if I were not part of this Council.” — Linda Robinson, Ph.D., Coordinator of Library/Media Services, Mansfield Public Schools “Your assistance and support were outstanding, and I appreciated your willingness to provide a range of assistance to the committee working on this grant application, as well as your breadth of expertise and knowledge that was shared, as well as your encouragement. Thank you.” — Gail White, President, Woodstock Historical Society 63
Planning & Development Among student works were bilingual monologues, poetry, a one-act play and a choreographed dance performance of the text, The Wave. This project offered a unique learning opportunity, aligned with the new Common Core State Standards, by engaging students in a close, intellectual relationship with text, which, when abstracted upon, was metamorphosed into new conceptual art. For those in the audience, the performances represented the powerful impact the expressive arts can have on improving cultural understanding and appreciation. • Arts Education: Promoted arts education in districts throughout the region in collaboration with WindhamARTS; for example, we are working to establish student galleries in available school sites throughout the region and developing new arts-related programs and services that connect students with public audiences.
Delighted educators interact with children’s author Rob Buyea during a workshop to enhance the rigor of Interdistrict Grant lessons for students from diverse school districts. Interdisciplinary Performing Arts Project Continued our collaboration with an author and playwright to develop an interdisciplinary performing folk arts project for students that will promote their creative writing, design, costume and technical production skills. This new arts learning opportunity represents an exciting venue for engaging students in an artist-in-residence model, in that they will work alongside professional artists in developing their own creative visions and voices. In the process, they develop writing, revising, designing, constructing, lighting, teamwork, critical thinking and arts-related skills.
2012-2013 Challenges Continued Reductions in Resources The current economic situation continues to challenge our ability to respond effectively in developing and improving programs, services and products. Federal, state and private foundations are all impacted by today’s economic realities, with more organizations, agencies, service providers and school districts seeking to expand their access to increasingly scarce funding sources. Today’s times warrant innovative and alternative strategies for raising the necessary funds to continue to develop and provide the kinds of programs and services customers expect from us.
Implications & Plans for 2013-2014 Supporting the Work of Our Directors Promoting greater futures-thinking among our staff is at the root of a series of roundtables we will be hosting to discuss research and analyze trends impacting teaching and learning in our public schools. From professional development to classroom practices, changes are impacting our educational landscape, including new teacher and administrator evaluation, Common Core standards, and emerging learning technologies, as well as others that will continue to develop and impact our region’s schools, in addition to our own programs and services. The roundtable series will result in improved knowledge and understanding of how best to maintain EASTCONN’s continued excellence as educational leaders in a highly changeable environment. We anticipate that new models in professional development and classroom practices will result, which will help us address the educational needs of our region’s students, in light of increasingly challenging economic times. Online Collaborative Learning Increase the frequency with which Teaching Matters blog postings occur, promoting a more sustained conversation among educators. Building a more robust online conversation will result in providing teachers with a locally based, collaborative learning community. Tap All Resources Continue to invest in the development of a more seamless process for tapping internal and external resources to meet more aggressive goals, as opportunities arise.
“I can’t think of anything to improve the wonderful service the Office of Planning and Development provides. [Your] excellent suggestions due to [your] vast knowledge and experience - which in today’s competitive grant environment is invaluable - is well-appreciated. [Your] office ... [is] easy to work with - making wonderful suggestions in a pleasant and helpful manner.” — Bev York, Professional Historian; Administrator, Nathan Hale Homestead 64
TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES Overview Our vision is to provide systemic professional learning for educators so that a culture of professional learning becomes embedded into the district culture and is not just an event that happens on certain days during the year. We’ve created opportunities for administrators and teachers to participate in regional professional learning communities and have expanded our capacity to provide training and coaching to districts that are engaged in data-driven school improvement efforts and educator evaluation. Next year, we will be expanding our delivery options for professional learning offerings as we seek to provide more online resources and opportunities for professional learning and collaboration for administrators and teachers in our region.
Goals 1. To improve and 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 improve and enhance the knowledge and skills of school leaders through the delivery of quality programs, products and services that enable school leaders to create positive school climates and a culture for professional learning.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Connecticut System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) Pilot Districts Provided training and technical assistance to 40 administrators and more than 200 teachers from 5 districts selected to pilot the implementation of SEED in our region; enabled the pilot districts to successfully implement the new evaluation system and provided important data for the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) as they enhance and improve the state’s next-generation educator evaluation system. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Implementation In preparation for the implementation of the CCSS, we provided a variety of professional learning supports: • Regional CCSS Consortia: 20 districts and more than 150 educators participated in 2 EASTCONN-facilitated CCSS consortia; 1 for English language arts (ELA) and 1 for math. For a second year, staff provided a series of professional development sessions for teachers and administrators, resulting in a deeper understanding of the standards and implications for instructional changes that will be needed as new standards are implemented. Participants were divided into cohorts based on their length of participation.
Dr. Karin Hess, a national assessment and curriculum expert, shares CCSS expertise with teachers at a writing workshop. • ELA Consortium Highlights: Cohort 1 was in its second year, representing 8 districts with 26 participants; they focused on the development of units of instruction. Cohort 2, including a new grades 9-12 group, had 34 participants representing 7 different districts; in its first year, Cohort 2 concentrated on the major shifts in instruction required by the Common Core. All teachers reported implementing the key skill of close reading and its significant, positive impact on student comprehension, involvement and motivation; teachers are building multiple strategies into their units. • Math Consortium Highlights: Began this year with 16 districts and a focus on formative and summative assessment development, curriculum planning and examining, and understanding the CCSS learning progressions. Participants created formative assessments at multiple levels. The preK-2 group focused on specific activities that could enhance and increase the rigor in early math learning, while the grades 3-5 and 6-12 groups began developing units, curriculum maps and pacing guides. 65
Teaching & Learning Services – Action Research: 37 participants, composing teams from 7 districts, engaged in an action research project with Dr. Karin Hess to support the development of a comprehensive approach to teaching opinion and argument writing across grade levels. The goal was to understand that there is a progression to learning specific content that needs to be considered when designing class units and assessments.
School administrators soaked in critical information related to the state’s new educator assessment and evaluation plans.
Student Success Planning (SSP) As districts began implementing their Student Success Plans, we provided support and training: • Regional Training: 8 districts participated in regional training combined with embedded technical assistance focused on strategies for the effective implementation of their SSPs. Naviance, the Web-based planning and organization software that many districts are using to support their SSP initiatives, was also included in the training.
• Professional Learning: Offered a variety of regional workshops to support our districts in the implementation of CCSS, including a day with Dr. Karin Hess, Senior • SSP/School Climate Network: 5 schools participated in Associate with the National Center for the Improvement our SSP/School Climate Network that provides a forum of Educational Assessment and head of the research for teachers to address ongoing needs and identify best project that created the Learning Progressions and practices for integrating these initiatives. Cognitive Rigor Matrix being used by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in the development Support for School Administrators of assessment tasks. The new With so many new education standards are widely different initiatives and mandates, in scope from current state How much did we do? supporting administrators was an standards and the workshops More than 100 teachers area of focus for the Teaching and provided an opportunity for and administrators from 31 Learning division during 2012educators to experience and different school districts 2013. Highlights include: apply them. attended workshops to support • Administrator Book Club: – Regional Workshops: implementation of the new 12 administrators participated in More than 100 teachers the EASTCONN Administrator English language arts standards and administrators from 31 Book Club, a forum that enables different districts attended them to enjoy a professional our 10 regional workshops focused on instructional learning experience that develops understanding of strategies to support implementation of the new ELA research through reflective, face-to-face and online book standards. Many new resource materials claiming to discussions with fellow administrators. be CCSS-aligned are of poor quality; we conducted extensive research to provide alternative, high-quality resources to our participants.
“ [The Assessment Forum was] very worthwhile & exciting.”
• New Administrator’s Academy: 6 administrators with 3 years’ experience or less, representing 5 districts, participated in a professional learning community — Elise Guari, Principal, Hampton Elementary School
“[A.] is a trusted advisor and coach as I value her opinion and ability to ask the right questions. [A.] makes me question why I am doing what I am doing and encourages me to connect back to school goals. I am developing leaders in my school partly because of [A.’s] belief that building capacity among the teachers results in on-going school improvement.” — Troy Hopkins, Principal, Ashford School [Impact of the CCSS workshop: One high school history teacher made several changes in his instruction based on his new learning and how he does pre-assessments, so they are formative in nature.] “… I am able to more quickly and effectively provide student feedback … the quality [of student work] has been very good, and because of increased clarity of expectations, I have been able to focus on the greatest areas in need of improvement.” — History teacher and CCSS PD participant 66
Teaching & Learning Services that focused on the multiple roles and expectations of educational leaders in today’s world. Job-embedded coaching was provided to each administrator to develop instructional leadership within each district’s learning community. • Administrator Online Professional Learning: 27 administrators, who also participate in our New Administrators Academy, PreK-8 Principals’ Consortium and the Administrator Book Club, engaged in online professional learning and discourse through the use of Edmodo, a simple and safe online tool for communicating and collaborating. This private, invitation-only social network provides an online platform where learning takes place both in relation to others and in relation to learning resources. • PreK-8 Principals’ Consortium: 17 area principals participated in this EASTCONN-supported regional professional learning network that promoted collaboration around curriculum development, supported professional development activities, and provided a forum for administrators both to share issues and concerns, and to collaborate on strategies for success.
opportunities to access and share resources, information and professional development. Among those managed by Teaching and Learning are: • Language Arts Council – 20+ educators from 19 districts participate in this council, which provides our districts with information, resources and professional development for implementing CCSS in English language arts. • Math Council – 16 educators from 11 member districts participate, providing them with up-to-date information, resources and professional development for implementing CCSS in mathematics. • Regional Staff Development Council – 28 educators from 26 districts participate, providing our districts with current CSDE information and offering a forum for regional collaboration around professional development opportunities and shared resources. • Science Council – 27 educators from 15 districts participate, gaining the latest information and connecting with resources for improving science curricula, assessment and instruction; participants also obtain the latest information about the next generation of science standards.
Regional Councils EASTCONN hosted and facilitated regional councils across a wide variety of content and functional areas, all designed to provide our member districts with
Conference Office staff collaborate with presenters to ensure that all logistical support needs are met.
Math Council provides renowned presenters, access to resources, peer support and the latest in best-practice methods.
Conference Office Services EASTCONN’s Conference Office provides logistical support to internal staff, as well as to external customers, including the CSDE, in the planning and managing of events, workshops and meetings:
“1. Educators throughout Connecticut are facing a significant challenge this year as we prepare to implement new state requirements for teacher and administrator evaluation. EASTCONN has provided a great resource for our district leaders through the series of seminars hosted on this topic. Beyond the basic information, they addressed individual questions and created opportunities for us to collaborate on developing our plans. This has been extremely valuable for small districts like Marlborough. 2. Small districts need outside perspective on important initiatives like Common Core implementation and the new Educator Evaluation requirements. EASTCONN provided consultation ... for our school-wide data team to address both of these topics. As a building leader in a small district, her knowledge and help with planning has been very helpful.” — Scott Nierendorf, Principal, Marlborough Elementary School
Teaching & Learning Services What difference did it make?
“The education ‘landscape’ is changing so quickly and these changes are of such magnitude, that we as a small district could never alone keep up ... without the help and guidance of EASTCONN.” • Regionally: Scheduled and provided logistical support for 326 workshops and 886 meetings.
• 9 mentor update trainings for 176 participants. • 1 training for initial reviewers with 11 participants. • 3 trainings for reviewer updates with 73 participants. • 1 district facilitator meeting for 28 participants. Connecticut Leadership Standards Managed the development of the revised Connecticut Standards for School Leaders for the CSDE through the facilitation of statewide focus group sessions, followed by the creation of an online job analysis survey; the resulting new leadership standards were approved by the Connecticut Board of Education and will serve as the framework for new administrator evaluation guidelines.
• Statewide: Managed 19 CSDE professional development grants, totaling more than $800,000. Scheduled and supported a total of 34 statewide events, serving more than 7,000 participants, including the annual Connecticut Assessment Conference. Scheduled and provided logistical support for 581 meetings, as well as 211 additional professional development workshops, attended by more than 2,000 participants. Teacher Education And Mentoring (TEAM) Program Provided workshops and facilitated meetings for teachers, mentors and reviewers in the northeastern Connecticut region: • 2 new mentor trainings for 60 teachers.
Collaborative workshops are typical of TEAM, the state’s professional development program to support new teachers.
A College Board workshop helps teachers use PSAT data to identify needed curriculum changes in math and English. Step2STEM/Advanced Placement (AP) Implemented the second year of a 3-year Federal AP and pre-AP grant, called Step2STEM, in collaboration with the CSDE. This grant program, in coordination with the Project Opening Doors AP initiative, provided professional development and support for pre-AP and AP teachers aimed at increasing student enrollment in AP courses, especially minority and economically disadvantaged students, and to provide support for vertical teams and curriculum alignment in grades 6 through 12. EASTCONN provided content-specific training for 195 high school teachers of math, science and English that resulted in increased teacher knowledge and pedagogy around AP classes. More than 100 teachers in grades 6-12
“… EASTCONN’S extensive support, including access to and tutelage from their exceptionally well trained and knowledgeable staff, along with the opportunity for our staff to attend a variety of quality and affordable workshops, continues to be the key to the pathway [toward] school improvement at Mary R. Fisher Elementary School. The education ‘landscape’ is changing so quickly and these changes and requirements are of such magnitude, that we as a small district could never alone keep up with the many mandates without the help and guidance of EASTCONN. “Specifically, some of EASTCONN’s many contributions to us have been a) the timely dissemination of important information garnered from meetings held at the state level b) the arrangement of collegial discussions for administrators, and c) the provision of CCSS ELA and Math consortiums that have been affordable to the district and again have provided the learning atmosphere that teachers feel is positive and supportive.” — Bob McKenna, Assistant Principal, Mary R. Fisher Elementary School, Thompson 68
Teaching & Learning Services participated in Laying the Foundation Math and English training that provides teachers with high-quality and rigorous instructional methods and materials. • Summer Institute: More than 90 English and science teachers attended a 5-day summer institute provided in collaboration with Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) and the College Board, where they learned effective instructional strategies for AP students. • STEM: Focused on raising awareness of and interest in courses and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields: – Delivered 3 statewide workshops in partnership with the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing and Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), designed to enhance school counselors and administrator understanding of STEM educational and career pathways. – More than 180 students from East Hartford, Windham, New London and Bloomfield participated in 4 summer enrichment programs designed to strengthen their awareness of STEM career options and interest in STEM courses. – Funded the development and hosting of an online STEM careers workshop for teachers during the summer of 2012. • Resources for Schools: The College Board gifted EASTCONN more than $37,000 of College Education books and teacher resources to distribute to grant schools, including Windham, Bloomfield and East Hartford. Support in using these materials has been provided to school counselors to ensure fidelity to the program. Minority Teacher Recruitment (MTR) Provided support to 150 minority teacher candidates, who took 24 PRAXIS I Prep Sessions and 24 PRAXIS I Math Course Sessions. These sessions are designed to
help prepare minority candidates for the Praxis I and II examinations that are required for teacher certification as part of the statewide MTR Alliance, which is designed to increase representation of minority educators in Connecticut. Perkins Consortium Six (6) districts participated in our regional Perkins Consortium, providing access to a funding source that they would not otherwise be able to access on their own; consortium members received professional development for 36 of their teachers on the design and implementation of pre-engineering, technology and computer-aided design (CAD) courses, benefitting more than 220 of their students.
2012-2013 Challenges Response to State and Federal Initiatives Assisting our member districts in developing a coordinated and systematic response to a multitude of new and demanding federal and state legislative requirements (e.g. teacher and administrator evaluation, student success plans, school climate plans, technology plans, CCSS, next generation of assessment and school improvement) requires that we increase our capacity in a wide range of content areas; member need for our support is further exacerbated by several years of budget and staff reductions in local districts, particularly in administrative support areas, which impacts our ability to provide support. Professional Development Constraints in Districts Limited availability of local resources continues to make it difficult for educators to attend regional workshops and to access the embedded coaching, training and technical assistance that is necessary for the planned, ongoing and systematic professional development that is needed to improve student learning outcomes.
Educators confer about strategies for implementing Common Core State Standards during a focused, fall EASTCONN workshop. 69
Teaching & Learning Services Regional PD for PreK-8 Schools Supplement locally delivered, on-site professional development targeted to preK-8 districts, with shared, regional PD on common professional development days as a way of saving districts money, while expanding training options. Secondary School Principals’ Network Launch a secondary school principals’ network for high school principals in our region that provides access to shared professional development and an opportunity to address common challenges in implementing secondary school reforms.
English language arts teachers map out lesson strategies during a workshop on Common Core State Standards that require educators to teach persuasive writing differently. Staff Capacity Maintaining a highly qualified professional development staff with the prerequisite knowledge, skill and experience that will allow EASTCONN to provide cost-effective services to our member districts is an ongoing challenge in these difficult economic times.
Expanded Scientific Research-Based Interventions (SRBI) Supports Expand SRBI-related services to support effective district implementation, including planning, data management and analysis, intervention support, classroom coaching, social-emotional and behavioral supports, and curriculum development. Regional Initiatives Continue to identify opportunities for regional collaboration to maximize and improve the use of district and agency resources so as to assist districts in meeting new educator evaluation requirements and CCS implementation.
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014 School-Improvement/ Turnaround Schools Collaborate with the RESC Alliance, CSDE and other strategic partners, to increase our capacity to support school improvement initiatives, the existing Turnaround Schools legislation and the requirements in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver, by increasing the number of staff trained in the evidence-based, successful school improvement practices. Educator Evaluation Collaborate with CSDE, the RESC Alliance, the Connecticut Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Advisory Committee (PEAC), and other strategic partners to support districts in the development and implementation of teacher and administrator evaluation plans and professional development as mandated in the new Connecticut State Board of Education requirements. Regional Curriculum & Assessment Development Continue regional CCSS ELA and Math Consortiums to provide ongoing support across the region for curriculum development aligned with the CCSS, professional development for instructional strategies, and development of performance-based assessments that are aligned with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. 70
A series of workshops at EASTCONN helped nearly 100 administrators learn crucial details about Connecticut’s new teacher and administrator evaluation and assessment system.
TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS 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. EASTCONN staff provides professional development for educators in effectively integrating into the classroom the latest technology tools and applications; provides infrastructure and network support; and develops and offers customized, online database solutions for efficient data collection and analysis.
Goals 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 student 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..
software, such as Microsoft Office. An online learning tool, called eLearning, complete with step-by-step audio and video components, was deployed and piloted by the administrative support staff of the Teaching and Learning and Technology Solutions divisions. Staff can voluntarily learn new skills, or be assigned courses to take in conjunction with goals set by their supervisors. These learning tools are now available to all EASTCONN staff, at any time, through our online Intranet.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION Video Teleconferencing Technology Awarded a Public Educational and Governmental Programming and Educational Technology Investment Account (PEGPETIA) Grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control to acquire and install high-definition video teleconferencing equipment in 4 of our conference/training rooms, as well as a mobile desktop video teleconferencing unit to be used by various EASTCONN staff.
• Collaborative Differentiated Learning: The acquisition of this equipment will provide an opportunity for teachers in EASTCONN’s districts to better differentiate their curriculum and expand opportunities for more authentic, collaborative learning experiences for students. We are partnering with a member district to produce a collaborative teaching and learning experience, using this equipment.
eLearning for EASTCONN Staff Our staff learning community is required to keep their skills up to date, especially in office productivity
Fifty (50) area educators regularly attended a Smart Board Users Group at EASTCONN to learn how to design more effective lessons, using interactive white board technology. Smart Board Users Group Thirteen (13) districts and 50 educators participated in our regional Smart Board Users Group, created to assist teachers in designing classroom lessons that help manage differentiated learning, engage digital learners, and save time through the effective application of interactive white board technology. Technology Council The EASTCONN Technology Council met 5 times with an average attendance of 15 educators, representing 12 different districts. This regional council, hosted and facilitated by EASTCONN, provided a forum for district technology coordinators, technology integration specialists and teachers interested in using technology to enhance teaching and learning. The council provided access to the latest information on state and federal 71
Technology Solutions technology initiatives, as well as an opportunity to share resources and information. Members received training and support relating to emerging technology tools and strategies, including such topics as creating video tutorials, technology tools to support assessment, online learning and alternative productivity tools.
What difference did it make?
transfer of student data between the two systems.
CTCurriculum.org is an important resource for supporting the transition to CCSS through the development and dissemination of quality lessons and assessments aligned to the CCSS
Virtual High School (VHS) Coordinated the delivery of online VHS courses to 4 participating districts, enabling 80 students in our region to access courses online, and allowing districts to increase the number of courses they can make available to students by providing access to over 200 semester-long and full-year courses.
WEB APPLICATIONS and DATA SYSTEMS SUPPORT
Educator Evaluation Data Management System Contracted with My Learning Plan to provide OASYS, a Webbased Observation and Appraisal Management System, used in the state Educator Evaluation pilot program for the online management of teacher and administrator data related to their evaluation goals and plans; 13 districts participated in the successful implementation of this system, which was coordinated and managed by EASTCONN.
Web Site Design and Support Provided Web design, hosting and user training services for both internal and external customers. • CTCurriculum.org: Designed and launched an enhanced version of CTCurriculum.org Web site for the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) that allows users to collaboratively review and comment on lessons and tasks uploaded to the site, resulting in an increase in the quality of the tasks. The site also supports uploading of scored student work and assessments. CTCurriculum.org is an important resource for supporting the transition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) through the development and dissemination of quality lessons and assessments aligned to the CCSS, along with English language arts and math unit templates.
Both agency staff and outside presenters help administrators stay current with education-related technology advances. Naviance and Student Success Plans Provided technical assistance to 8 districts in the initial set up and ongoing use of Naviance and provided end-user training in using the tools to create high-quality student success plans. Provided assistance for districts integrating Naviance and PowerSchool to allow for a seamless
• CTASCD: Provided ongoing support to the Connecticut Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (CTASCD) Web page. Designed by EASTCONN, this portal offers event management tools and a content editing system that provide embedded social media applications, all created to enhance engagement with their membership. • www.eastconn.org: Supported the redesign and launch of EASTCONN’s new Web site and pages: The registration portal was redesigned to aggregate the multiple registration portals that EASTCONN manages under a general registration link. In addition,
“The agency’s technology staff have provided critical assistance to the Marketing and Communications Department. When we sought technology-related staffing support for our Web Development Team, we were quickly provided with the time and talents of a talented technology staff member, who proved to be a wonderful asset. Staff also helped us mine previously untapped marketing information in the Conference Office registration database. The result was an improved process for obtaining that information, which has increased the vitality and usefulness of our external-contacts database for marketing e-blasts.” — Teddie Sleight, Manager and Media Relations Coordinator, EASTCONN’s Marketing & Communications Department 72
Technology Solutions TEAM (Teacher Education And Mentoring Program) Database • Managed the EASTCONN-developed Web-based accountability and data management system for TEAM, currently being used by 4,966 active beginning teachers and 4,174 mentors, as well as other educators, statewide. The online system provides all participating educators (district facilitators, new teachers, mentors, reviewers, principals and superintendents) with a realtime communication and data system that enhances communication between mentors and new teachers and provides a real-time record of their progress on module completion, as required by the CSDE certification regulations. The agency’s newly designed Web site, launched last fall, received critical support from Technology Solutions staff. the presentation of various local and state events was redesigned to reflect the site’s new look. The professional development (PD) search indices were rebuilt and redesigned to streamline search results and make it easier to find our PD offerings.
• Developed a bulk e-mailing system, which improved scheduled and ad hoc communications along with the user interface and ticket reporting.
• Developed a Chief Reviewer logging system to calibrate reflection paper reviewers and modified the Chief Reviewer system to allow multiple papers to be open at the same time.
• Agency Training: Provided 6 agency-wide Intranet training sessions for agency employees, who are being trained in how to use and maintain their division Intranet pages. Also provided instruction on the use of online tools required to maintain their pages. The employee Intranet is a secure internal Web portal that is a ready resource for efficient information dissemination to EASTCONN’s 550+ employees. Each department is expected to maintain its Intranet pages, providing relevant, work-related information to all staff, including news, events, documents, forms and time-sensitive announcements, as well as links to agency-wide applications like Applitrack and School Dude. • Teaching American History (TAH) Web Site: Continued refining and improving the recently redesigned Teaching American History Web pages, enhancing their usefulness to external American history teachers, who can now more easily access the vetted, 400-plus online history lessons for free at www. eastconn.org/tah. During the past year, staff not only improved the reliability of links contained in the TAH pages, they also improved their overall function. Work is ongoing to identify individual history lessons that are already aligned to CCSS, which will enhance the lessons’ relevance in the classroom.
Thousands of TEAM educators benefit from an EASTCONNdeveloped, Web-based, data management system.
CALI (Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative) Managed multiple online data systems supporting the coordination and delivery of CSDE’s CALI initiative; upgrades helped to increase data management efficiencies and provided greater ease of use for educators.
“I am writing this in regards to the Powerschool support for QMC. [T.] quickly jumped in and assisted in creating transcripts and answering any and all of my questions (and there were a lot). [He] responded promptly to any issue QMC may be facing. [He] is easy to talk to and even staff who are not so technologically inclined feel [he] can understand any issue they bring. I honestly don’t want to look back on a time before I had access to [him].” — Shannon Taylor, Teacher, EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College 73
Technology Solutions metrics after each completed administration of a CAT, such as first time pass rates, module rates, scores by module and individual scores.
CTPAF.org, an online reporting tool, was developed at EASTCONN to help preschools collect and analyze student data.
Teacher Evaluation Training Tracking & Support System Developed a system for CSDE and RESC teacher evaluation training staff, enabling them to coordinate and manage the statewide teacher evaluation system training initiative (SEED). The system supports all the management functions of coordinated training sessions, including scheduling, session length, audience, training outcomes and identification of future training needs. Online Surveys • Educator Evaluation Surveys: As part of the new Educator Evaluation Guidelines, districts are required to administer parent, staff and student surveys as a means to gather data to establish stakeholder and parent feedback goals. EASTCONN has collaborated with Victoria Bernhardt to make online surveys available to districts. Ten (10) districts utilized our services to establish goals for their teacher and administrator evaluation plans.
CTPAF (Connecticut Pre-School Assessment Framework) Developed a system of reporting tools for the EASTCONN-developed CTPAF system, used in 285 preschool classrooms in 116 communities across the state. The tools give users easy access to a variety of detailed, student-level and school-level reports. Using EDGE, our new business intelligence How much did we do? software, enables users to The EASTCONN-developed CTPAF have faster and simpler access application provides users in to data that is graphically 285 preschool classrooms in 116 displayed and easier to Connecticut towns with detailed analyze.
• Lighthouse Survey: Created an online Lighthouse Survey for the CSDE that measures beliefs around student achievement potential in high-achieving and low-achieving districts. This survey was implemented in 8 student- and school-level reports Connecticut school districts with Kindergarten Inventory local Boards of Education, school Continued to manage the administrators and educators annual online Kindergarten in each district. The CSDE has retained EASTCONN Inventory for all Connecticut districts. The Inventory to administer the survey system as it gains national provides the CSDE with critical data on the developmental momentum. progress of kindergarten students across the state. CAT (Connecticut Administrators Test) – Institute of Higher Education Portal In addition to managing the existing EASTCONNdesigned, statewide, online registration and data management system, which supports online registration for the CAT modules and produces various data pertaining to the administration of the CAT, a new informational reporting portal has been developed for the Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) with current and historical information about their candidates’ performance in all 4 modules of the CAT. Designated Deans and Directors of each IHE can view individual and overall performance
EDGE-Supported Data Management Acquired and deployed SAP Business Objects EDGE, a feature-rich business intelligence analytics system that allows us to make quicker data-driven decisions, capitalize on new opportunities and proactively respond to potential issues. EDGE provides easy-to-use dashboards and other reporting tools delivered through a secure, Web-based portal, enabling both our internal and external customers to schedule, run and publish their own reports on an as-needed basis. This allows us to integrate databases with office productivity software, like Microsoft Office, providing our users easy access to real-time data on demand. EASTCONN is the only RESC in Connecticut
“I thought [T.] was very good. [He] was able to answer specific questions for all kinds of scenarios. [He] basically moved from person to person and addressed issues individually ... [and] seemed very knowledgeable of the software and about what schools/teachers need as well. [He] was forthright with us and explained that it can take several years before people like PowerSchool. [He] had a good sense of humor and was very professional. I think [he] has a kind of “Let’s get it done” attitude that I appreciate. [He] handled my frustrations well—with humor and patience.” — Troy Hopkins, Principal, Ashford Elementary School 74
Technology Solutions Expanded PowerSchool support services for 3 EASTCONN schools and 2 EASTCONN districts by hiring a dedicated student information support specialist, who delivered focused training for 32 elementary and high school staff and teachers and provides technical assistance to increase the collection of student data, and report refinement and configuration of PowerSchool’s parent portal.
that has this reporting tool and the on-staff capacity to apply it in the education environment, where data demands continue to increase in frequency, urgency and importance.
An easy-to-use data management system helps Head Start educators generate and analyze critical information about students that is used for quarterly assessment reports.
• Head Start Assessment Reports: Reduced the assembly and generation of quarterly Head Start assessment reports from 3 days to seconds. Reports can be accessed and refreshed by authorized users with minimal training from any Internet-enabled computer; previously, IT staff were needed to produce reports. Continued development of this system is underway to develop trending reports.
• PowerSchool Student Focused Reports: Assessment data, attendance data and other student success indicators come alive visually when presented through a data dashboard. In addition, understanding how a change in one or more variables affects an outcome is easily demonstrated when using a data dashboard tool. Having successfully integrated PowerSchool with EDGE, report development for PowerSchool data is in progress. One of the applications of this integration is a School Performance Indicator Data Dashboard and another is a District Attendance Data Dashboard. In both cases, school level data is presented in a graphical representation with the ability to drill down on any data element that is displayed. EASTCONN is working toward the goal of producing a suite of PowerSchool Data Dashboard products.
• Software Integration: By further integrating the PowerSchool system with other educational software and reporting tools, student data is managed centrally, but made available to other tools as needed. The benefits include reduced errors in data input, reduced need to duplicate tasks across disparate systems when information changes, and powerful data reporting that is visual, accurate and current. PowerSchool has been successfully integrated with Naviance, a student success planning system, SchoolMessenger, a school-wide and parent alerting system, NutriKids, a school lunch management system and EDGE, a business intelligence analytics system.
SchoolMessenger Alerting System Configured and activated SchoolMessenger, a system enabling school-wide communication for alerts, emergency cancellations, and notifications for 554 contacts across 6 EASTCONN programs. Integrated SchoolMessenger with PowerSchool to keep all student contact information current. Trained 10 school staff in how to create and disseminate alerts, using SchoolMessenger. Technology Project Management Office Recognizing the need to address and prioritize a large and growing number of information technology projects throughout the agency, a project manager was assigned to assess each division’s technology project(s), prioritize
• Lighthouse Survey: EDGE has enabled us to make report data from the Lighthouse Survey easily and instantaneously available to survey administrators.
Student Information Systems Support & Integration Services • Internal Student Information Management:
Technology staff have designed and managed dozens of projects for external customers, as well as EASTCONN divisions. 75
Technology Solutions them and ensure they are accomplished. Since its inception in August of 2012, the Project Management Office, with the help of a dedicated team of information technology analysts, has identified over 50 technology-associated projects and has prioritized, addressed and/or completed over half of them. The project manager meets monthly with the Director or assigned Manager of each agency division to review progress, communicate issues and gather requirements for new projects. As the project management process matures internally, it has the potential to become an external service offered to EASTCONN’s districts. HazMat Inspections Tracking System An online, Web-based, hazardous materials inspection tracking system is nearly complete and will be deployed by the end of the year. The Facilities Department will be the primary user of this system, deploying it not only internally, but for EASTCONN member districts that rely on agency expertise to maintain regulatory compliance for asbestos abatement and radon testing. It is anticipated that the completed system will be available for sale to interested school districts and communities who must track their inspections schedules and state or federal reporting requirements.
2012-2013 Challenges Staff Capacity Maintaining a 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, given the current market conditions and the demand for highly skilled technology staff. District Budget Constraints Limited availability of grant and local resources continue to make it difficult for educators to attend regional workshops and to access the embedded coaching, training and technical assistance that is necessary for planned, ongoing and systematic professional development needed to impact improved student learning outcomes.
Thanks to our membership in CEN, we can capture professional development presentations for online viewing later, extending educators’ access to professional learning.
• Expanded Online Learning for Educators and Students: As member partners of the Connecticut Education Network (CEN), we have the capacity to connect our teleconferencing equipment to digital recording equipment housed at CEN, allowing us to capture professional development presentations for online redistribution at a later date and providing educators with increased, individualized access to professional learning. This technology permits the agency to reach a wider audience of teachers and students, greatly enriching the teaching and learning experience through collaboration with teachers and students worldwide; it also provides access to subject experts in a wide variety of fields.
Next Generation of Online Assessments Provide support to districts as Connecticut prepares for the next generation of online, computer-adapted, high-stakes assessments that will replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).
Implications & Plans for 2013-2014
Web-Based Data Management Solutions Continue to develop affordable Web-based assessment and data management solutions for schools, with an emphasis on tools that will enhance educators’ ability to make decisions, using data and to support changes in teacher evaluation.
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.
Expanding Markets Seek new customers for our technology products and seek new development partners as a way of both reducing costs to our member districts and providing a revenue stream for the research and development effort that is needed to remain current in the marketplace.
TRANSPORTATION SERVICES Overview Transportation provides services to agencies in the northeastern Connecticut region and school systems throughout the state. This division is not only expert in transporting students with special needs, it also transports other public school students, as well as adult clients going to jobs and job-training sites. In addition, the Transportation division provides specialized training, Student Transportation Vehicle classes for new drivers and yearly re-certification training classes for its present drivers, as required by the State of Connecticut.
Goals 1. Increase the number of customers who choose EASTCONN transportation services for their student transportation needs. 2. Provide the highest quality services in the most costeffective and time-efficient manner to meet customer requirements.
2012-2013 Highlights & Accomplishments Student Transportation • Transported 746 students daily, an increase of over 49% from last year, using a fleet of 110 specially equipped vehicles, to sites throughout Connecticut, as well as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our fleet includes yellow buses, 15-passenger buses, mini-vans, sedans and hybrid vehicles. All have cellular communications, safety equipment and first-aid on board, and some have integrated car seats and wheelchair lifts. • Provided transportation services to 19 member districts, including Head Start in Putnam, Killingly and Plainfield, in addition to 8 out-of-region, non-member districts and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. • Transported approximately 250 special needs, early childhood and Head Start students from a member district in a new 5-year contract. • The purchase of new, 2013 model-year buses will ensure that students are transported in the safest, most up-to-date vehicles. How much did we do? GPS Technology The on-board GPS systems installed in every vehicle are now linked to our Central Dispatch Center. In addition to improved efficiencies in both fuel and labor costs,
we have now improved driver communications and accountabilities, as well as enhanced customer service capacity. Driver Training All 85 of our drivers participated in mandatory annual training, which covers all state-mandated topics, including 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 disabilities. We supplement the training with a review of EASTCONN policies and procedures, including the prevention of sexual harassment. Adult Riders Continued our contract with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) to transport lowincome, unemployed adult riders traveling to skillstraining programs and job interviews, as well as to work sites; on average, 9 clients were transported weekly. Given the shortage of public transportation in northeastern Connecticut, this is a critically needed service. Driver Education Program Operational in 2 regional locations (Danielson and Willimantic), the Driver Education program continued to grow with the number of teen students now at 390, an increase of 12% over last year, and enrollment in the state’s mandatory 8-Hour Safe Driving Practices classes increasing by 10%; maintained level tuition costs for the 4th year in a row, making the agency’s driving program more affordable than its area competitors.
Transported 746 students daily, an increase of 49% over last year, to sites in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Plans & Implications for 2013-2014
Personnel • One of the biggest ongoing challenges is a shortage of prospective drivers who are not only qualified to participate in the state-mandated pre-employment training, but who are able to wait the 12-to-16-week waiting period to receive the required Department of Motor Vehicle-issued certification; many applicants lack the financial means to postpone earning income and must secure alternative employment in the interim; others lack sufficient basic skills to participate in the mandatory training, or to perform necessary job tasks.
Expand Regional Participation Continue increasing the number of districts and customers participating in the agency’s regionally coordinated transportation system for children with special needs.
• Driver absenteeism posed an additional challenge, requiring the assignment of drivers to multiple runs and/or the last-minute rearrangement of bus runs. • Leadership changes and a medical leave required existing supervisory staff to assume additional duties. Budgeting Challenges Rising fuel prices made it difficult to budget accurately. We are unable to take full advantage of fixed price contracts, due to the expansive geography we cover and the need to access fuel across Connecticut and in neighboring states. Driver Education Expansion Finding licensed instructors, particularly those who are also bilingual and available on an as-needed basis, continues to present a challenge.
In-Town Bus-Route Expansion Explore opportunities to increase the number of special needs students transported via in-town bus routes. New Vehicle Technologies Pilot new on-board-vehicle technology that will allow improved driver-to-home-base communication around driving conditions and other important information, leading to improved passenger safety. Staffing Continue to seek effective strategies for recruiting and retaining quality drivers and Driver Education instructors, including an expanded in-house program to train potential candidates. Driver Education Continue to aggressively market the new 8-hour Defensive Driving course.
“Region 19 currently contracts with EASTCONN for all special transportation services for students in district and out placed. Our programs include a Transition Program which runs 8:30-2:30; an Alternative Afternoon Program that runs from 2:30-5:30; students that require midday transportation; students attending EOS regular schedule; and a 4:00 late bus for special activities. A wheelchair bus is available on a daily basis. We are confident that all options for travel to placements out of district are reviewed to make it cost effective for R19. As a rule, upon request of service our needs are immediately addressed. The transportation office is quick to respond to calls if a student misses their travel connection, returning when possible. The new GPS system has been a very useful tool to help track down students’ attendance. We would highly recommend their service to other school systems.” — Steven Bayne, Director of Special Services, Region 19 “EASTCONN Transportation Services is professional and responsive. When our school district has a challenging transportation need, I can always count on the entire EASTCONN team to find a creative solution. They are willing to take whatever time is necessary to work out solutions that are in the best interest of the district and the students we serve. EASTCONN Transportation is willing to individualize driver and bus monitor training to meet our students’ diverse needs. The entire department is very professional as well as personable! Our calls are always returned promptly. We love working with [Transportation because it] consistently goes above and beyond for Willington!” — Holly DiBella-McCarthy, Director of Pupil Services, Willington Public Schools “As the Director of Student Services for the Columbia School System, I have worked with EASTCONN for nearly four years. During that time EASTCONN’s Transportation Department has been a true partner. They are proactive in their approach. EASTCONN, especially [J.], has looked for ways to help us save money while meeting the unique transportation needs of our students. They are quick to respond to inquiries, be it by telephone or e-mail.” — Brenda Morey, Student Services Secretary, Columbia Public Schools 78
EASTCONN Administrative Offices 376 Hartford Turnpike, Hampton, CT 06247 T: 860-455-0707; F: 860-455-8026; VM: 860-455-0029 www.eastconn.org EASTCONN Administrative Team Executive Director....................................Paula M. Colen Hampton......................... 860-455-1505................ firstname.lastname@example.org Adult & Community Services...................Richard Tariff Hampton..........................860-455-1562................ email@example.com Early Childhood Initiatives.......................Elizabeth Aschenbrenner Hampton..........................860-455-1518................ firstname.lastname@example.org Facilities/IT Services................................Michael Akana Hampton..........................860-455-1500................ email@example.com Finance......................................................John Baskowski Hampton..........................860-455-1502................ firstname.lastname@example.org Human Resources..................................... Steve Wapen Hampton..........................860-455-1554................ email@example.com K-12 Student Services............................... Thomas Cronin Hampton..........................860-455-1512................ firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing & Communications.................Dotty Budnick Hampton.......................... 860-455-1506............... email@example.com Planning & Development..........................Maureen Crowley Hampton..........................860-455-1513................ firstname.lastname@example.org Teaching & Learning Services..................Jim Huggins Hampton..........................860-455-1525................ email@example.com Technology Solutions................................Jim Huggins Hampton..........................860-455-1525................ firstname.lastname@example.org Transportation Services.............................Julio Nieves Columbia.........................860-228-6751................ email@example.com
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.
EASTCONN Board of Directors
Chairman..................... Mr. Herbert Arico............................ Regional District #19
& Willington Public Schools
Vice-Chairman............ Mr. John Adamo.............................. Windham Public Schools Secretary..................... Dr. Catherine Wade......................... Hampton Public Schools
Ms. Judy Benson Clarke................. Region #8
Ms. Diana Ingraham........................ Voluntown Public Schools
Ms. Sheila Johnson......................... Brooklyn Public Schools
Ms. Mary Kortmann........................ Coventry Public Schools
Ms. Karen Kramer........................... Tolland Public Schools
Mr. David Marcotte......................... Killingly Public Schools
Ms. Jennifer Nelson........................ Regional District #11
Ms. Katherine Paulhus.................... Mansfield Public Schools
Mr. Walt Petruniw........................... Canterbury Public Schools
Mrs. Tracy Rummel........................ Stafford Public Schools
Ms. Alycia Sanders......................... Chaplin Public Schools
Ms. Donna Smith............................ Pomfret Public Schools
Mr. Douglas Smith.......................... Plainfield Public Schools
Mr. Marshall Tourtellotte................ Woodstock Public Schools
EASTCONNâ€™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.