Public education in Connecticut
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting • Nonprofit regulation
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Studies and reports
- 10 School districts
- 11 Education ballot measures
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 References
List of school districts in Connecticut
Public education in Connecticut
School board elections portal
The Connecticut Commissioner of Education is the executive officer of the Department of Education. The Commissioner is recommended by the State Board of Education and appointed by the governor to four-year terms. The current Commissioner of Education is Stefan Pryor.
The State Board of Education is composed of 13 members.
- At least two members must have experience in manufacturing or a trade offered through the Technical High School System.
- One must have a background in vocational agriculture.
- Two must be nonvoting Grade 12 student members.
Voting members of the board serve four-year terms, while the nonvoting student members serve one-year terms. The Commissioner of Education serves as an ex officio member of the board. All members are appointed by the governor.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Connecticut State Board of Education adopted the standards on July 7, 2010. Full implementation was set to be achieved in the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Connecticut compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Connecticut as reported in the Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Connecticut's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||373||0.07%||0.42%|
|Two or more||9,819||1.77%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A majority of students in Connecticut attend suburban schools. Nearly 82 percent of the state's students attend city or suburban schools, compared to approximately 18 percent who attend rural or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), Connecticut had the second smallest share of fourth and eighth grade students who scored at or above proficient in both math and reading.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Connecticut was lower than the national average at 1.9 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 2.1 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Connecticut
School choice options in Connecticut include: charter schools, inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and some online learning programs. In addition, about 10.89 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Funding and expenditures
- See also: Connecticut state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 13.9 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 1.3 percentage points, or 8.6 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 15.2 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
- See also: Public school system revenues in the U.S. to compare all states.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Connecticut totaled approximately $9.7 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Connecticut and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Connecticut totaled approximately $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Connecticut and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Connecticut, the average salary decreased by 1.4 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Connecticut ranked 17th overall, or "strong," which was in the second of five tiers.
The main unions related to the Connecticut school system are the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and AFT Connecticut, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. For the 2003 tax period, CEA had: $16.56 million in total revenue, $12.45 million in total expenses and $32.22 million in total assets. For the same period, AFT Connecticut had: $4.36 million in total revenue, $4.53 million in total expenses and $3.75 million in total assets.
The teacher unions have repeatedly brought the "Project Opening Doors" program to court for offering financial incentives for passing AP tests to students and teachers.
List of local Connecticut school unions:
- Connecticut Education Association
- AFT Connecticut
- Norwalk Federation Of Teachers
- West Hartford Education Association
- New Haven Federation of Teachers
- AFT Local 4200
- Hartford Federation of Teachers, Local 1018
- See also: Connecticut government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and the Connecticut Association of School Personnel Administrators.
Studies and reports
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 used six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Connecticut received a score of 87.5, or a B+ average in the "chance for success" category. This was above the national average. Excluding the chance for success category, the state's highest score was in school finance at 86.8, or a B+ average. The lowest score was in the teaching profession at 70.8, or a C- average. Connecticut's school finance score was the highest when compared to its neighboring states, narrowly beating Rhode Island's score of 86.5. The chart below displays all of the scores of Connecticut and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Connecticut||87.5 (B+)||72.4 (C-)||78.6 (C+)||70.8 (C-)||86.8 (B+)||78.6 (C+)|
|Massachusetts||91.4 (A-)||83.7 (B)||88.4 (B+)||78.7 (C+)||83.5 (B)||75.0 (C)|
|New Hampshire||88.0 (B+)||78.8 (C+)||76.0 (C)||63.9 (D)||81.4 (B-)||78.6 (C+)|
|Rhode Island||79.7 (B-)||69.3 (D+)||85.1 (B)||71.1 (C-)||86.5 (B)||78.6 (C+)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
- See also: School board elections portal
Connecticut has three types of school districts: regional school districts, city school systems and town school systems. Regional school districts are organized by a joint referendum of two or more towns and are considered separate local governments with the ability to determine fiscal needs and appropriate funds. City and town school systems, however, are dependent upon their municipal governments and must seek approval from the city or town budget-making authority on financial matters.
- See also: List of school districts in Connecticut
The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment, per-pupil spending and highest rate at or above proficient in reading in eighth grade on the statewide Connecticut Mastery Test.
|Student enrollment, 2011-2012||Per-pupil spending, 2012-2013||Proficiency rate in eighth grade reading, 2012-2013|
|1.) Hartford Public Schools||1.) Cornwall Consolidated School||1.) Franklin Elementary School|
|2.) Bridgeport Public Schools||2.) Canaan Schools||2.) Hartland School|
|3.) New Haven Public Schools||3.) Sharon Center School||3.) Salem School|
|4.) Waterbury Public Schools||4.) Regional School District 12||4.) Regional School District 6|
|5.) Stamford Public Schools||5.) Regional School District 1||5.) Integrated Day School|
|6.) Norwalk Public Schools||6.) Hampton Elementary School||6.) Wilton Public Schools|
|7.) Connecticut Technical High School System||7.) Salisbury Central School||7.) Trumbull Public Schools|
|8.) Danbury Public Schools||8.) Kent Center School||8.) Easton Public Schools|
|9.) West Hartford Public Schools||9.) Scotland Elementary School||9.) Rocky Hill Public Schools|
|10.) Fairfield Public Schools||10.) Redding Public Schools||10.) New Canaan Public Schools|
School board composition
Connecticut school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although if there is a vacancy, the remaining school board members must appoint someone to serve the vacant position's unexpired term. School boards may have three, six, nine or twelve members, with a third of the members up for election every two years, allowing members to serve six-year terms.
Connecticut does not impose term limits on school board members.
Here are several quick facts about Connecticut's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Bridgeport Public Schools with 20,155 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is West Hartford Public Schools with 10,030 K-12 students.
- Danbury Public Schools and Waterbury Public Schools tied the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with six seats up for election.
- West Hartford Public Schools has the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election.
The district listed below served 106,543 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district name for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 Connecticut School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Bridgeport Public Schools||11/3/2015||4||9||20,155|
|Danbury Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||11||10,612|
|Fairfield Public Schools||11/3/2015||5||9||10,294|
|New Britain Public Schools||11/3/2015||5||10||10,232|
|Norwalk Public Schools||11/3/2015||5||9||11,071|
|Stamford Public Schools||11/3/2015||4||9||15,758|
|Waterbury Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||11||18,391|
|West Hartford Public Schools||11/3/2015||3||7||10,030|
Path to the ballot
To qualify as a school board candidate in Connecticut, an individual must:
- Be a registered voter.
- Not be employed by the district he or she seeks to represent.
School board candidates can file to get on the ballot in a number of ways. They can file with an established political party, petition onto the ballot or become a write-in. If petitioning or becoming a write-in candidate, nomination documents must be filed with the town clerk of the municipal government corresponding to the school district election.
Candidates must file a Registration by Candidate (SEEC Form 1) with the town clerk of their local municipality within 10 days of becoming a candidate. On that form, candidates must designate if they will be registering a candidate committee or filing an exemption from forming a candidate committee. To file the exemption from forming a candidate committee, candidates must indicate one of the following:
- A town committee or political slate committee will be their sole funding source.
- They will be funding their campaign using personal funds.
- They do not intend on receiving or spending any funds, including their own money.
- They do not intend on receiving or spending funds in excess of $1,000.
All candidate committees and any candidates who filed exemption from forming a candidate committee but spent over $1,000 for their campaign from personal funds must file periodic disclosure statements detailing campaign finances with their town clerks.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to public education in Connecticut.
- Connecticut state budget and finances
- Connecticut Department of Education
- List of school districts in Connecticut
- School choice in Connecticut
- Charter schools in Connecticut
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)
- Connecticut State Board of Education
- Connecticut School Choice (CSDE) (dead link)
- Connecticut School and District Data (CSDE)
- Connecticut Education Staff Data and Salaries (CSDE)
- Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium
- Connecticut Virtual Learning Center
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Connecticut State Department of Education, "About Us," accessed May 15, 2014
- Connecticut State Department of Education, "Stefan Pryor - Commissioner of Education," accessed May 15, 2014
- Connecticut State Department of Education, "State Board of Education Home," accessed May 15, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State,” accessed June 12, 2014
- Connecticut State Department of Education, "Common Core State Standards in Connecticut," accessed June 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Connecticut Education Association," accessed January 3, 2010
- Center for Union Facts, "AFT Connecticut," accessed January 3, 2010
- Watchdog, "Union challenges teacher bonuses for AP scores," November 10, 2010
- Center for Union Facts, "Connecticut teachers unions," accessed January 3, 2010
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- United States Census Bureau, "Connecticut," accessed July 9, 2014
- Connecticut State Department of Education, Bureau of Grants Managements, "2012-13 Net Current Expenditures (NCE) per Pupil (NCEP) and 2013-14 Special Education Excess Cost Grant Basic Contributions for the May Payment," accessed July 9, 2014
- Connecticut Mastery Test, "State by District/School Report, Grade 8," accessed July 9, 2014
- General Statutes of Connecticut, "Section 10-219," accessed July 9, 2014
- General Statutes of Connecticut, "Section 9-206," accessed July 9, 2014
- National School Boards Association, "Survey of the State School Boards Associations on Term Limits for Local Board Members," accessed July 9, 2014
- Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, "Be a School Board Member," accessed July 9, 2014
- Connecticut Secretary of State, "Candidate Ballot Access," accessed July 9, 2014
- Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, "Municipal Election Campaign Overview," accessed July 8, 2014
State of Connecticut
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of the State | Comptroller | Treasurer | Commissioner of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Commissioner of Environmental Protection | Commissioner of Labor | Chairman of Public Utility Control |