Back-to-School Season at RISE Highlights Importance of Data for Student Success

Data Research and AnalysisData Tools and PracticesGrade 9 SuccessNetwork Collaboration and LearningPostsecondary ReadinessRISE by 5 StrategiesStudent Voice and Success

In preparation for the current school year, the RISE Network held multiple planning retreats with core network school partners throughout the summer. Hosted by coaches in our freshman, student, and postsecondary success teams, these sessions were focused on reflection, goal-setting, and engaging in data-driven and student-centered collaboration. Grounding our work in data is key to our mission and the start of the new academic year signals among educators a renewed commitment to harnessing data to best serve their students. 

A particular focus for RISE Network schools in the year ahead is on executing highly effective data meetings. At the Grade 9 level, data meetings are designed to engage educators in purposeful collaboration to support on-track achievement. On a weekly basis, teachers across content areas come together with administrators and support staff to discuss the needs of their shared student caseload. These educators leverage the RISE Data Hub, protocols, and their own expertise to pursue strategies and interventions to support student success. At this time of year, Grade 9 data meetings are focused on reviewing data that educators can use to learn more about their students.


RISE’s Risk and Opportunity Protocol is based on student academic and attendance data from 8th grade and provides some insight into how students may experience the transition into 9th grade. In data meetings, educators may discuss additional supports for these students, including identifying students who may benefit from Extended Day Programming, as well as KidStat or Student-Centered conversations during future data meetings. 

For some students, the level of support needed may warrant additional guidance from a dedicated On-Track Coach (OTC) who will serve as champion and advocate for a caseload of up to 60 Grade 9 students. During the back-to-school season, OTCs focus on building relationships with their Grade 9 teams, new students and families, as well as finalizing their caseloads for the year ahead. 

To build their caseloads, RISE OTCs reference observational data from educators who have had direct interaction with students over the first few weeks of school. This, combined with robust information found within the Data Hub, enables them to identify students who have demonstrated attendance, academic, social, and/or behavioral risk factors in middle school and have the most need for targeted support. And the effects of this deep and sustained level of support from OTCs are clear.

Data from the 2022-23 school year indicates that while 42% of the Class of 2026 were identified as “high risk or vulnerable,” OTC caseloads were comprised of 86% “high risk or vulnerable” students. Demonstrating their perseverance, OTC caseload students matched their school peers with an on-track rate of 83%. The data show how OTCs are changing the trajectory of students’ lives and helping them reestablish positive relationships with school. 

In the coming school year, 1,020 Grade 9 students across the RISE Network will benefit from supportive coaching from OTCs. 

Yet the transitional support provided by the RISE Network does not stop there. Educators continue to monitor data and employ interventions to support students throughout their high school journeys. For example, as students conclude their junior year, they complete RISE surveys indicating, among other things, their intended postsecondary plans. 

This past year, 2,407 out of 3,030 juniors completed the survey for a response rate of 79.4 percent, importantly demonstrating that there is a high percentage of students who feel confident to identify a postsecondary plan.

At Middletown High School, 92 percent of seniors already have an identified plan coming into senior year. According to Middletown school counselor Kim Lane, having early access to this information is crucial. “As I start the 2023-2024 school year, the work our department has done with our juniors in identifying their individualized plans proves to be beneficial for our students as incoming seniors,” she said. ”The Hub allows me to collect specific data to guide connections with my seniors in the fall to meet deadlines, follow up on prior collaborations, and guide seniors to resources for completing their postsecondary goals.”

Early in the academic year, data teams at the Grade 12 level begin to focus their attention on milestone completion. Three priority data points serve as the foundation for Grade 12 data meetings; student plans, applications, and FAFSA or ACCTUS (Aid Application for CT Undocumented Students) completion. Grounded in these guiding data points, Grade 12 teams across the network spend time in the fall setting goals for their students and outlining strategies to ensure students are meeting milestones along their intended pathways. 

These Grade 12 data meetings have proven effective in supporting student growth, specifically in the areas of college application and FAFSA completion. Across RISE Network schools, completion rates for 2-year and 4-year college applications increased 4.7 percentage points from 91.3 percent in 2021-22 to 96 percent in 2022-23. Similarly, FAFSA completion rates increased by 7.6 percentage points, from 58.5 percent to 66.1 percent in that same time frame.

Whatever their long-term goals may be, the RISE Network team of educators is committed to helping students achieve those goals. As we have seen, this process begins before students even set foot in high school and continues throughout, purposefully employing data and enabling collaboration to ensure that each student is supported and successful.