Grade 9 Student Success is Key at the RISE Network’s 2nd Annual Summer Symposium

Grade 9 SuccessNetwork Collaboration and Learning

The RISE Network is thrilled to share that our Grade 9 Summer Symposium will be back again for 2023! The second annual Symposium, which will take place June 26-27 in West Hartford, focuses on how schools can invest in Grade 9 on-track achievement as a key lever to improve high school graduation rates and postsecondary success. The Symposium will bring educators together for meaningful learning and cross-district collaboration, after which they can plan improvements using proven practices to enhance the freshman experience in their schools.

“Summer is the time when educators reflect and prepare,” says Samantha Lucky, RISE Network Engagement Manager and the coordinator of the Symposium. “These two days can impact the trajectory of students’ entire high school careers and the rest of their lives.”

“We are excited to have educators come from across Connecticut and outside the region to connect on work that supports students in Grade 9 and throughout high school,” Lucky added. 

Following last year’s Symposium, participants enthusiastically expressed a 100% satisfaction rating for their experience. One Waterbury educator commented that “most of the strategies we implemented this year we learned about at the Symposium and researched over the summer so that, when we came back to school, we had a solid frame of reference.” A Norwalk educator said that the Symposium “included a great overview of work with some specific strategies that are easily adoptable,” and an educator from Bridgeport expressed their enthusiasm for such a “great opportunity to work together with teachers and administrators and come up with actionable plans and solutions.”

Back on the Symposium agenda by popular demand is a Grade 9 Educator Panel, where experienced educators will explain the importance of this pivotal year and of supporting students with their transition into high school. They will also give insight into how they have built their own Grade 9 programs from the ground up, including maintaining teams to implement “RISE by 5” strategies in their schools.  

Following the panel, we will introduce a new set of Freshman Success Strategy Breakouts where panel educators, along with other school leaders and RISE staff, will co-host sessions for participants to learn more about specific areas including on-track conferences, Grade 9 teaming, on-track culture, summer bridge programs, and on-track coaches.

Another new feature of this year’s Symposium will be an “On-Track Data Teams Deep Dive” during which we will debut a new video showcasing a mock data team meeting. There will be two different protocols demonstrated in the video; one focusing on a subgroup of students and the other on a single student. And both will feature the new RISE Data Hub, zooming in on how school teams use this tool to identify student needs and plan personalized interventions. We recognize that educators are striving to provide vital support to students in a post-COVID world, and these tools are designed to help them meet those challenges. Our strategies support educators in positively impacting the Grade 9 student experience with targeted support structures and practices. 

Educators in attendance will find many informative sessions covering various areas of interest, including the importance of Grade 9 through a research lens, cultivating mindsets for leading freshman success, and a look into diverse data protocols and the discussions they can support. RISE promises a packed agenda that will empower our community of educators with tools and proven practices to help advance shared goals.

Freshman Focus Network

Building on the success of last year’s event, and following the two-day Symposium, is our first-ever Freshman Focus Forum, a full-day event on June 28 designed specifically for members of the Freshman Focus Network (FFN). The FFN is a new learning community that has met throughout the academic year to receive coaching, resources, and support from RISE. During the Freshman Focus Forum, school teams will reflect on implementation and progress made in 2022-23, and dedicate time to planning for 2023-24. 

Among the resources shared with the FFN was a blog series spotlighting each of the five Grade 9 conditions for success, which created a shared language and understanding among educators new to such structures and supports. Teams participating in the Freshman Focus Network are deepening their work to establish these conditions in their schools, and the upcoming Symposium will touch on these themes, providing an introduction to the five conditions.

Defined LeadershipPrioritization of
Grade 9
Teaming StructuresData VisibilityOn-Track Definition

School teams attending this year’s Symposium will be invited to join Cohort 2 of the Freshman Focus Network – a multi-district collective of schools working together throughout the 2023-24 school year to pursue new Grade 9 strategies and structures. The first cohort of this year-long network featured nine schools across three states: Portland, Deering, and Casco Bay high schools in Maine; Salem, Burncoat, and South high schools in Massachusetts; and Bassick, Wilby, and Kennedy high schools in Connecticut. 

To learn more and register to join school teams from around the region for the RISE Network Grade 9 Summer Symposium, please click here. Together, we will transform high school experiences and student outcomes through replicable and impactful strategies!