The Democrat-controlled Senate voted 28-7 along party lines at about 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday after hours of debate. The plan now moves to the House.
Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the education reform bill into law during a formal ceremony on Tuesday.
He was surrounded by school children as he signed the legislation.
Malloy has previously said he was "proud of the work that has been done in the last few months to fix what's broken in our public schools."
Malloy said that his focus this session was on reforming public education and that he believes real steps have been taken toward that goal.
Malloy and Democratic leaders announced that an agreement had been reached after weeks of closed-door discussions and months of town hall meetings held by the governor.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a statement commending the education reform legislation.
“I commend Connecticut for coming together to enact meaningful education reforms that will benefit students. I know the negotiations on S.B. 458 were difficult, but Governor Malloy and the Legislature, business, unions, educators, and advocates were committed to begin fixing what is broken in public schools," Duncan said. "The final bill includes important reforms in early reading, school turnarounds, school choice, and school staffing and delivers more resources targeted to those districts and schools with the greatest need. Now that Governor Malloy has enacted the law, Connecticut can begin the hard work of putting these important reforms to work in the classroom.”
The law doesn't give Malloy the broad authority he wanted for his education commissioner to reform failing schools or to institute teacher evaluation systems, but it does give Malloy a foot in the door, something he calls "meaningful."
The legislation creates a Commissioner's Network, allowing the state to "provide intensive supports and interventions" needed to turn around 25 low-performing schools. It requires annual performance evaluations for principals, administrators and teachers and links tenure to a teacher's effectiveness.
The co-chairs of the education committee, Sen. Andrea Stillman, (D) Waterford, and Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, (D) West Hartford, came up with a bill legislative leaders used as a basis for negotiation with Malloy's assistants. What emerged gave the governor enough that he could stand alongside the legislators and declare victory.
"We will not fix what's broken overnight. We can't," Malloy said. "But with tonight's activity, we begin."
The session adjourns at midnight on Wednesday.