New England Secondary School Consortium


“The world is an increasingly demanding place and we owe it to our students to prepare them to compete and succeed in this global economy. As we continue to support to raise expectations for what our students should know and be able to do, we look forward to continued collaboration through the New England Secondary School Consortium.”
—Dr. Dianna R. Wentzell
Connecticut Commissioner of Education


Melissa Hickey, Reading/Literacy Director, CT Department of Education |
Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Chief Performance Officer, CT Department of Education |



Connecticut Mastery-Based Learning Guidelines for Implementation and FAQs

Connecticut is a leader in innovative school policies that increase pathways for student success grounded in educational best practice.  Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) Section 10-221a(f)(3), passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in July 2013, grants school districts the option to determine how students accrue graduation credits.  One option provides for multiple methods of demonstrating mastery of critical knowledge and skills, “… through a demonstration of mastery based on competency and performance standards, in accordance with guidelines adopted by the State Board of Education.”

With support from The Great Schools Partnership (GSP), the New England Consortium of Secondary Schools (NESSC), and Achieve, the State Board of Education crafted Guidelines for Mastery-Based Learning. Before their official adoption in June 2015, The Guidelines for Mastery-Based Learning underwent a comprehensive vetting process which engaged major stakeholders including the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists, members of local Boards of Education, superintendents, administrators, school-staff, parent groups, business advisory associations, the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS). The approved Guidelines are structured around the principles of community engagement, policy, and practice and is inclusive of the feedback presented by these groups.

Unpaid Experiential Learning Program
The Connecticut State Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Labor, has developed an Unpaid Experiential Learning Program (ELP) that is being piloted by over twenty-five high schools.   The pilot officially began on October 1, 2015.  The Unpaid ELP will serve as an added resource for Connecticut public schools seeking to differentiate learning experiences for students as many shift to a Mastery-Based Learning environment.  The program affords schools and business & industry partners an opportunity to provide up to 120 hours of unpaid training for students 16 and over in non-hazardous placements.  High school students who take part in the Unpaid ELP will not only acquire transferable skills that will help them succeed in college, careers, and civic life but become empowered to take ownership of their own learning.  Early feedback from students in pilot districts has been overwhelmingly positive.  Students have been engaging in mandatory safety training and engaging in conversations around linking their internships to their Senior Demonstration Projects, Community Service opportunities as well as Career and Technical Education Pathways.

Mastery-Based Learning Resource Center
This website is designed to support local school districts that choose to implement Mastery-Based Learning as well as families and community partners who want to learn more about this model.

Graduation Requirement Task Force:  Public Act 15-237 “An Act Concerning High School Graduation Requirements”  creates a nine-member task force to study the alignment of the high school graduation requirement changes with the Common Core State Standards adopted by the Connecticut State Board of Education.  The act also requires Connecticut school districts to offer support and alternative ways to meet the new graduation requirements that will take effect in 2021.



About the Connecticut League of Innovative Schools, please contact:

Arielle Sprotzer, Senior Associate, Great Schools Partnership |