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To lead the continuous improvement of public education for all students by advocating public policy for children and by developing and supporting executive school leaders.

By many measures, the state of Connecticut public education has never been stronger.  In the 2018 Quality Counts Report, Education Week ranked Connecticut 5th out of the 50 states in terms of its overall education quality.  Connecticut education leaders are in demand to present at regional and national conferences, and some have become the subject of research articles and featured in books.  In 2017, the state’s school districts collectively graduated 87.9 percent of the state’s high school students in four years, a record high and the cumulative result of seven straight years of increases.  Throughout the state, public school districts are accomplishing remarkable feats, innovating in how we organize schools, deliver instruction, and design high-quality learning supports—and always putting students first.

Yet it is also the case that Connecticut’s public education system faces challenges.  State and local municipal financial crises have led to dramatic cuts in essential services, and future budgets are in question.  Student populations continue to shrink in much of the state and the demographic characteristics of Connecticut’s students have significantly changed.  And despite strong relative performance in comparison to many states, too many CT students graduate unprepared for the dynamic and ever-changing challenges of college, career, and citizenship.  A teacher shortage in many areas of certification threatens the quality of the workforce. And there are vast inequities in opportunities, experiences, and outcomes across and within districts.

These issues are of great importance to the future of Connecticut and its citizenry.  Public schools remain a central and essential institution, preparing our youth for ever-changing economic, social and civic demands.  Public schools and districts will help determine the kind of state and nation we will be.

The Connecticut Association of Public-School Superintendents (CAPSS) is the statewide organization dedicated to the professional and educational advocacy concerns of superintendents and executive district leaders in service of improving the lives and learning of all children. CAPSS will advance a bold vision of student learning, organizational improvement, and executive district leadership, one that can guide the practice of the profession and deepen public debates and push toward a sound policy that supports outcomes beneficial to our students and in line with CAPSS’ strategic priorities.  In addition, CAPSS will provide high-quality and high-impact services to its membership, making sure superintendents and executive district leaders obtain necessary technical assistance and professional learning.   

I. CHAMPION Public Education for Connecticut's Children

Despite its many important contributions to this nation and state, public education is under attack from multiple directions.  Despite its successes and its importance in a democratic republic, public officials, pundits, and service providers attack, using alarmist language while selling non-existent silver bullets.   The result is dangerous; morale in the broader education ranks is at a marked low point and faith in public education is shrinking in society.  While there is much to improve in public education, the field needs a powerful counterbalance: the voice of leaders advocating to strengthen and improve—not tear down—schools, while reminding us of their essential social good.

Strategic Priorities

Leverage the voice of superintendents and other executive district leaders in championing the value of a strong and equitable public education system as foundational to a sustainable and thriving economy and democracy.

High-Leverage Activities

  1. Foster strategic partnerships with business leaders, public officials, non-profits to shape constructive public discourse about public education and its future.
  2. Create and support the work of The Commission for State funding as it seeks to design a sustainable, fair, and equitable financial model for our state’s public education system.
  3. Identify and pursue opportunities to support research on effective leadership and educational practices, especially in line with strategic priorities such as women in leadership and equity; and act as a clearinghouse in disseminating lessons to the field.

II. PROMOTE Sound Policy for the Common Good of Children

It is essential that the public discourse and policymaking around education include the voices of educational leaders in a meaningful way. The vast expertise and experience of these professionals inform their insights and recommendations enabling them to design a dynamic system of education that strives to support the success of every child.   Too often, policy discussions are shaped by interest groups without the voice of educational leaders, hindering true progress and often forcing educational systems to change course or devote resources in ways that do not result in better outcomes for children.  To avoid the external dogma, ideology drives, and politics that can influence policy without improvement to education, it is critical that the leaders of this profession need to be included as foundational components of any policy development and system design work.

Strategic Priorities

Advance a focused statewide and national agenda—ideally in partnership with other state organizations--that establishes the conditions for preparing students for college and career, advancing equitable student experiences and outcomes, and continuous improvement at the district level.

High-Leverage Activities

  1. Identify a small number of agenda issues, identify CAPSS’s stance, and influence the creation of policy.
  2. Advance a statewide budget model that is fair and equitable while providing the resources for a world-class education system.
  3. Advance human capital policy that supports educator professional growth and reflection.  
  4. Champion a clear vision of effective teaching and learning, leadership, as well as the organizational conditions necessary to achieve such a vision at scale
  5. Develop superintendents as legislative advocates.

III. STRENGTHEN Teaching and Learning

Improving the quality of instruction and depth of learning remains the most significant and effective school-based intervention we have.  Effective superintendents create the conditions whereby principals can effectively guide instruction at the school and teachers can improve their craft in the classroom.  Superintendents can and must be prepared to work with stakeholders to design and implement high quality instructional strategy that will enhance student learning, improve life outcomes, and disrupt the inequities that plague our society.

Strategic Priorities

Support superintendents and other executive district leaders in enhancing teaching and learning, improving student learning and life outcomes, and fostering greater equity.

High-Leverage Activities

  1. Provide professional learning and collegial sharing in service of creating optimal conditions for improving teaching and learning at scale.
  2. Help superintendents develop a powerful vision for high-quality teaching and learning for their districts.
  3. Help superintendents identify and develop research-supported strategies for improving teaching and learning, along with mechanisms to cohere the organization around such strategies.
  4. Provide professional learning about how to hire highly effective principals and how-to best nurture and grow them to become instructional leaders.
  5. Foster greater equity and opportunity for all Connecticut’s children through advocacy for high quality pre-school and better continuity pre-school to grades 1-3.

IV. ENSURE High-Quality Continuous Growth for Superintendents and Executive District Leaders

Connecticut’s public schools need visionary and courageous leaders to prepare all students for success in college, work, and life. The superintendency is a lonely profession, with high stakes, vulnerability, and public exposure.  When superintendents find themselves in challenging situations, they need a clearinghouse of immediate and highly-targeted expertise, resources and advice. CAPSS must engender widespread trust and respect so that it is the first place that superintendents will turn for assistance.

Strategic Priorities

Ensure that superintendents and other educational executives have access to high quality, timely, and relevant professional services as they lead in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments.

Position CAPSS to provide just-in-time support for crisis management and troubleshooting as well as technical support on issues particular to the superintendency.

High-Leverage Activities

1.    Design, improve and implement a comprehensive and strategic suite of professional learning services that meet the needs of the leaders that CAPSS represents:

a.    Expand the pipeline of future district leaders, especially women and leaders of color;

b.    Support induction into the profession;

c.    Provide high-quality executive learning opportunities aligned with the real needs of superintendents;

d.    Promote connections among executive district leaders and the emotional well-being of CAPSS members;

e. Develop the capacity of CAPSS to provide real-time, urgent troubleshooting support for superintendents, especially in highly sensitive and time-critical situations by having a network of professionals on hand to assist through partnerships and individual commitments.

V. CREATE Powerful Governance Teams

The most successful public-school districts create partnership and powerful teaming between the board of education and the superintendent.  They develop, in partnership, visionary goals and support those goals through policy, budget development and community support.

Strategic Priorities

Create the conditions for bold, strategic, and sustainable superintendent leadership where boards of education, external stakeholders, and district leadership teams can pursue a vision that can significantly improve the quality of student learning, and that will last long past the tenure of the current superintendent.

High-Leverage Activities

  1. Deepen a vision of effective, collaborative governance, identify the most common barriers to consistently realizing that vision across CT’s districts, and design interventions, such as partnering with CABE to create a plan, when the governance relationship is sub-optimal.
  2. Partner with other educational organizations and higher education to grow knowledge needed to support district leadership and district improvement of teaching and learning.  
  3. Support collaboration that supports efficiencies that improve quality of education through inter-agency collaboration and other regional efforts.

CAPSS Strategic Planning Committee

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