RISE Expands Norwalk Partnership, Adding Postsecondary Support and Resources

Data Research and AnalysisNetwork Collaboration and LearningPostsecondary Readiness

Through our core network of schools, RISE has piloted promising practices that have led to improved student outcomes. As we continue to strive for deeper impact in our core schools, we are also scaling our approach to new schools and districts. Through cross-school coaching and professional learning experiences, we work to replicate and adapt what’s working in new contexts.

In Norwalk, our strong partnership and proven results at Brien McMahon High School have led to an expansion of our work to the other three high schools in the district; Norwalk High School, P-TECH, and the Center for Global Studies. In the 2022-23 school year, we launched Grade 9 on-track coaching and community of practice sessions, and in 2023-24, we expanded our postsecondary-focused work throughout the district as well.  

The new postsecondary support launched in Norwalk schools with coaching sessions, access to the RISE Data Hub, and the implementation of a survey for the class of 2025. The surveys ask Norwalk 11th graders students to identify their intended postsecondary plan (2 or 4-year college, trade or technical school, military, or workforce), how informed they feel about their options, and how confident they are that they can complete the necessary steps to achieve their plan. The survey also includes questions about challenges students may be dealing with in their planning, whether they identify as first-generation college-bound students, and approaches to financial aid planning strategies. 

Prior to survey implementation, the district had set a completion rate goal of 80 percent, and as of this writing, this goal has been exceeded with a total completion rate of 89 percent. Of the juniors who filled out the survey, an impressive 80 percent named a specific postsecondary plan. Additionally, 42 percent of students identified as first-generation.

Active plan breakdown

Successful implementation of the junior survey meant that Norwalk educators had a comprehensive set of data to review at their first district-wide postsecondary community of practice. Held on January 26, the RISE team highlighted ways that schools could utilize the Data Hub to visualize survey results in charts and create custom student lists. The session also encouraged participants to reflect on their own postsecondary journeys, surface student needs evidenced by the survey data, and share resources and practices across schools.

The January community of practice session was the first time that educators from all four schools have come together to review district-wide postsecondary data and trends. Key to this effort was utilizing the RISE Data Hub to explore student lists and custom charts in the postsecondary tracker. For example, school teams used the Hub to create charts to view first-generation students by active plan and then discuss strategies they could implement to help these students.

“Learning how to utilize the Data Hub for postsecondary planning was very insightful,” said Jazmin Powell, Truancy Coordinator at Norwalk High School. “I learned a lot through the graphics provided on the number of students who are first generation, as well as the number of students completing the FAFSA application who were unsure about which trajectory to take after high school. The session was amazing; all the staff and participants brought something to the table that was helpful to everyone!”

The information available to Norwalk schools for the first time through the RISE survey provides invaluable insights that empower counselors and educators to provide targeted support for their students as they prepare for life after high school. It helps counseling teams prioritize support, plan group programming, and tailor resources for specific groups of students based on their plans and unique needs.

“We’re working with counselors to think through ways to support juniors in the second semester, while there is a longer runway before senior year even begins,” said Valerie Hennessy, RISE Network Senior Engagement Specialist

This student-level visibility around postsecondary goals and progress, enabled by the district-wide partnership in Norwalk, is central to our values around equity and ensuring all students are supported on their unique postsecondary pathways.