The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has restored its TEAM partnership with EASTCONN and the RESC Alliance, and has engaged EASTCONN to coordinate administrative details.
“This renewed relationship will allow EASTCONN to provide the CSDE with an extra set of eyes to ensure that all things
associated with TEAM are going well,” said EASTCONN’s Director of Technology Solutions, Andy Depalma. He and his staff will oversee TEAM details for the state.
“Overall, we’re looking at a reimagined partnership with EASTCONN,” said Christopher Todd, the CSDE’s Talent Office Bureau Chief.
The Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) program is Connecticut’s nationally recognized support and induction
program for beginning teachers. Launched in 2010, TEAM was – and is – intended to help new teachers improve their
professional practice, obtain beneficial mentoring support from experienced teachers, and stay in Connecticut’s public-school
system. In partnership with the CSDE and other education professionals, EASTCONN designed the original TEAM website and was a key TEAM program administrator.
“The CSDE has always been committed to providing support to our early-career educators,” said Claudine Primack, the CSDE’s TEAM Program Manager. “With legislative cuts to the budget several years ago, the CSDE could no longer provide fiscal support. We’re pleased that with the partial restoration of funding to TEAM, we’re once again able to partner with the RESC Alliance and EASTCONN to restore previous services at no cost to districts.”
Under the TEAM contract, EASTCONN will act as the state’s fiscal agent and program administrator; manage direct TEAM
contracting; continue to manage the TEAM portal; and supply the CSDE with reliable outcome data. The CSDE, EASTCONN and the RESC Alliance will collaborate on TEAM professional learning plans, the development of all TEAM trainings, module reviews, and more.
The non-profit RESC Alliance includes ACES, C.E.S., CREC, EASTCONN, EdAdvance and LEARN. The RESC acronym stands
for Regional Educational Service Center.
In 2017, when CSDE funding for districts’ TEAM participation ended due to legislative cuts, many districts strained to pay for the mandated costs. Issues of equity surfaced in towns that couldn’t afford the price tag, which varied. Once legislative support stopped, districts were left to implement TEAM on their own. Even so, the CSDE continued to provide as much support as possible.
In 2018, EASTCONN established the TEAM Collaborative, which enabled school districts to subscribe on a pay-per-seat basis to the TEAM website, where teachers could use familiar TEAM program modules that met state requirements. The collaborative allowed the RESC Alliance to provide TEAM professional trainings and support. Yet many districts still struggled with the cost, and fidelity to the program began to drop.
“The situation was unsustainable,” said Todd. “The CSDE recognizes the burden that TEAM puts on districts, particularly around having to pay for the mentor stipend with minimal allocation from the state. We want the field to know that we are not only currently advocating for the fidelity of TEAM implementation, but we’re also pushing consistently to bring back funding for the continuation of this robust induction system. We are really fighting for districts at the state level.
“What the state also recognizes is that the RESC Alliance is a critical partner in this work,” said Todd. “The TEAM program doesn’t happen without the cooperation of the RESCs – and EASTCONN is one of the key coordinators of this work. In order to maintain TEAM, we had to bring the players back to the table.”
(Note: As of September 1, TEAM participation included 222 districts; 3,882 active beginning teachers; 10,470 eligible mentors; 1,105 eligible reviewers; and 339 active district facilitators.)
“The state clearly sees the need for cohesion, consistency and fidelity in the TEAM program, given its importance,” said DePalma. “Our new collaboration will help provide the stability that’s needed, as we work together to support Connecticut’s new teachers.”