Conn. (WTNH) — An education crisis is underway, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is issuing a warning after an alarming report revealed declining student performance nationwide.

Connecticut has been no different; New Britain’s school district has been ranked last in test scores.

It’s a new school year, and a new district for Dr. Tony Gasper, now the superintendent in New Britain. He takes on a district with the lowest test scores, which is familiar territory for him, after his time leading the Wolcott district. He told News 8 “we’re dipping even though we’re already the lowest-performing district in the state.”

“I came here thinking that I can help,” Dr. Gasper said. “Not one person can fix every problem not the superintendent, but I feel I have a system and approach that can help New Britain.

In his four years in Wolcott, the district’s test score ranking improved from 102 to 57. The system Dr. Gasper wants to implement in New Britain is to have these schools be in constant communication, so leaders know what works and what doesn’t – something he thinks will make a significant difference long term.

To start the school year off right, Dr. Gasper handed out trading cards to staff of the core basic elements of good districts. He calls them “the essential 10,” driving home the message to consistently improve.

“Every time we have a training, I expect you to get 2% better at your craft,” Dr. Gasper said he told the staff. “If you can do that every single time, you can end the year twice as good.”

The district is also pushing attendance this year. You’ll see these yellow signs with a bee on them all around New Britain, reminding the community that everyday in school matters.

“Our problems were building up, long before the pandemic,” New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said. “The pandemic accelerated it, highlighting deficiencies.”

In New Britain, test scores went down further, roughly 7%, which is on par with the state’s drop. Lower results are also being seen nationwide. Between 2020 and 2022, reading scores for 9-year-olds saw their largest decrease in 30 years, and math scores had their first ever decrease.

“Its scary when you realize nationwide, education as suffered,” Mayor Stewart said.

However, Mayor Stewart and the superintendent remain confident things will get better from here.

“This is going to be long work,” Dr. Gasper said. “Don’t expect to turnaround in a single year. It doesn’t make me any less confident we can’t do it.”