A British firm that has examined schools and educational programs around the world has been selected to review some of Connecticut's lowest-performing public schools this fall.
Cambridge Education is scheduled to do financial and educational audits of 12 large school districts that were the first in the state to be identified as deficient on test results under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, state officials said Wednesday.
The company intends to review districtwide operations along with 97 individual schools, including observations of classroom teachers.
The main goal is "school improvement, particularly improvement in individual student achievement," said Cambridge Vice President Trevor Yates, who outlined his company's approach during a meeting of the state Board of Education Wednesday.
The 12 districts have been on a No Child Left Behind warning list for five years in a row because of widespread deficiencies in student performance in reading or mathematics or both subjects.
They are Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, East Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, New London, Norwich, Waterbury, Windham, Norwalk and Middletown.
Although Cambridge has been recommended by the state, districts can pick other firms, subject to state approval, said Thomas Murphy, a spokesman for the state education department.
The cost of all the reviews could be more than $1 million, officials said. The money will come from funds set aside for school improvement under increases in state school aid to local districts this year.
Cambridge has worked in about 45 countries. It has its U.S. headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., and has worked in several Connecticut schools.
The hiring of an outside firm "is a matter of bringing in a fresh face, fresh perspectives" on what can be done to improve schools, said state Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan.
Pressure for improved test scores in Connecticut and nationally is coming from No Child Left Behind, the 5-year-old law that is the centerpiece of President Bush's school reform agenda.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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