Educators Share Student Success Strategies During Cross-School Collaboratives

Grade 9 SuccessNetwork Collaboration and LearningPostsecondary ReadinessRISE by 5 Strategies

Networks for school improvement are critically important to spreading highly effective practices.  Too often, educators work in silos within their schools without the input and collaboration of peers from other school communities who can offer fresh insights or perspectives.  Cross-school learning engagements, where educators from different school communities come together to share their knowledge, successes, and challenges, empower educators to support one another in pursuit of equitable student outcomes. A cross-school learning opportunity among our Core Network schools is our “Role Alike” team sessions

These gatherings provide educators with opportunities to learn from and collaborate with peers in similar roles across the Network. School teams form authentic learning partnerships to review data, solve challenges, pilot new strategies, and share promising practices.

On-Track Coaches

Throughout March, RISE hosted a series of role-alikes for our partner schools. The On-Track Coaches (OTC) session was aimed at understanding key factors that influence student motivation in the academic setting. Using the RISE Data Hub, OTCs reviewed and analyzed student data, and developed a targeted group of students to support based on data trends.

The group heard from guest speaker Dr. Kimberlee Henry, equity officer for Worcester schools, about how to stay connected and motivated during challenging times. Dr. Henry also shared protocols to facilitate conversations with struggling learners and/or teachers. Closing out the session, OTCs had dedicated time for cross-school collaboration to share strategies, offer feedback, and strengthen each other’s work.

Freshman Success

The most recent Freshman Success role-alike brought Grade 9 assistant principals from across the Network together to explore current student data, exchange insights on problems of practice and success analysis strategies, and use this information to create plans for Q4. Importantly, school teams used their time together to celebrate wins and share innovative practices.

For Maloney High School in Meriden, one key strategy is providing students with after-school extra help, Extended Day Programming (EDP) sessions, and “Hammer Time,” which is held in a dedicated space during the school day. Recently, they have expanded their reach by including off-team (non-core subject) teachers to assist with EDP. Through these programs, Maloney has seen increased academic success among high-risk and vulnerable students, as they have intentionally targeted these groups for EDP support. 

At East Hartford High School, Grade 9 Assistant Principal Ed Lavoie has created a comprehensive meeting space where all on-track data teams meet at the same time, in the same place. This has ensured that they are using shared language and are working towards the same goal, which in this case, is 100 percent promotion to 10th grade. Meetings are streamlined through their structure; with defined topics, guiding questions, data, and actions connected to strategies and next steps for teams to support their students. 

Hartford Public High School’s Grade 9 team has adopted a variety of innovative practices to more effectively support their students, including “Save our Semester.” This program provides students a space to stay after school to make up or complete key assignments which are most heavily weighted. Successful completion means that Fs are updated to reflect passing grades, right on the spot. This opportunity for credit recovery helps enable students to be promoted to Grade 10 on time. 

Manchester High School’s “Red Hawks SOAR Champion Cup” is a strategy brought to life by Grade 9 Assistant Principal Roy Roberts. Students, guided by on-track data teams, earn points for their teams by attending EDP, achieving a 90 percent average daily attendance rate, making the Honor Roll, earning B’s or better, and being on-track. This innovative program has proven effective in supporting, incentivizing, and celebrating on-track culture at Manchester.

Westhill High School in Stamford has piloted an “After the Bell” EDP program, which is held twice a week. Teachers create targeted lists of students who need the most support and actively recruit those students for the program. For participating students who complete key assignments, teachers change their grades instantaneously. This new strategy has already resulted in positive shifts in students’ on-track rates. 

Postsecondary Success

During our postsecondary role-alike session, counselors, college and career coordinators, and administrators from across the Network spent time reviewing junior survey data, planning for effective support for students in Grade 11, and learning from four school spotlights.

The first spotlight on postsecondary plan exploration was led by Naugatuck High School Associate Principal Eileen Mezzo and School Counselors Kristen Katrenya and Rhonda Morgan. The Naugatuck team shared how they revamped their postsecondary workshops to create a more engaging experience for students. For example, they held a “Postsecondary Plan Assembly” where representatives from all post-high school pathways (college, career, trade/technical school, and military) provided information and engaged in conversations with students as they considered their postsecondary options. 

Middletown High School Counselor Candice Wade gave a demonstration on how to maximize the use of the RISE Data Hub to best support students in their junior year. Wade shared the top four ways she uses the Hub in her daily practice as a counselor, including utilizing data insights around intended major/program to inform course scheduling, compiling relevant data to guide junior planning meetings, keeping up-to-date with postsecondary milestone completion to identify students who need support, and using tags to stay organized and accountable in her action steps. 

Stephanie Cruz, College and Career Readiness Coordinator at Platt High School in Meriden, shared how she has provided support to multi-language learners and their families. One such strategy was through a “camino a la universidad” (or “path to university”) event, which was purposefully marketed in Spanish and included resources that were translated into Spanish. Following the event, Cruz reached out to families who had attended with additional postsecondary plan and financial aid information and hosted an “ELL application day” event for students. 

Lastly, Chad Southerland, School Counselor at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, explained how his team promoted their summer academy program. McMahon’s Grade 11 data teams utilized junior survey data from the RISE Data Hub to gauge student interest in the program, intentionally zeroing in on first-generation students and those who indicated they were unsure of their postsecondary plan. His team marketed summer academy to students through flyers and a student assembly and engaged families through personal outreach. Southerland said that staying organized and goal-oriented allowed the team to make progress with recruitment, and ultimately, attendance. 

Through RISE’s role-alike collaboratives, educators have the opportunity to learn what strategies are working at other schools and adapt them to their own school contexts. We are a learning community, working together across school and district lines, and continuously seeking ways to learn and grow. This is the driving force behind our networked community structure; to share bright spots (and struggles) and work together to create the best possible outcomes for our students.