Across the RISE Network, our partner educators come together to learn, grow, and improve. As these collaborations continue to support meaningful learning and innovations, we endeavor to scale and share such vital resources through new or extended partnerships. In the Hartford, Norwalk, and Meriden school districts, our existing partnerships with specific high schools have yielded measurable results, which has prompted expansion into additional high or middle schools in these districts. Over the past two years, we have already witnessed the impact that such collaborations have had on our students and the benefits of sharing promising practices with educators at a growing number of schools.
Since the Fall of 2020, our long-standing partnership with Hartford Public High School has expanded to include three additional Hartford high schools: Weaver, Bulkeley, and Kinsella Magnet School. With a guiding focus on freshman success strategies, the RISE Network facilitates monthly cross-school meetings for Hartford Grade 9 leaders, as well as coaching sessions with each school. RISE works with administrators, teacher leaders, and counselors, helping build capacity and providing structures, resources, and protocols to use and build upon. School teams engage in student-centered data meetings, utilizing the RISE Data Hub to access and interpret data.
And the results of this collaboration are clear to see. “Working with RISE has transformed the way I go about my work with the freshman team,” said Brooke Lafreniere, Assistant Principal at Bulkeley High School. “Every teacher in the building can articulate what it means to be on-track and the students know what it means and can then explain it to parents. We have had huge increases in the number of students who are on-track.” Bulkeley saw 27 points of growth in the percentage of first-time freshmen who earned 6 or more credits in Grade 9 from 2020-21 to 2021-22.
In Norwalk, RISE’s substantial progress since 2019 with partner school Brien McMahon prompted an expansion in early 2022 to Norwalk High School, the Center for Global Studies, and P-TECH Norwalk. All four schools attended RISE’s Grade 9 Symposium in June. Since then, RISE has provided regular coaching with Grade 9 teams from each school, utilizing RISE data tools to monitor student growth and lead conversations driven by protocols. The schools come together for a monthly community of practice session, and all have plans to launch their own on-track conferences.
“The RISE Network has helped us bridge the implementation gap,” says Kristin Schmitz, Director of School Improvement for Norwalk Public Schools. “They have provided data tools and hands-on support to ensure that they are being used to their fullest potential and that schools are developing and aligning structures to support the work. All of our high schools now have teams focused on Grade 9 on-track work, and we’ve already seen an increase in the percentage of students who are on track compared to the same time last year.”
In Norwalk, RISE staff meet with district leadership to facilitate the scaling of data-driven, team-based approaches across the elementary and middle schools. As this partnership continues to grow, plans for the 2023-24 academic year include moving beyond Grade 9 strategies and incorporating support for postsecondary initiatives as well.
RISE has also expanded upon its partnership with Maloney and Platt high schools in Meriden to its three middle schools: Washington, Lincoln, and Edison. The goal is to implement data-driven strategies at the middle school level, particularly targeting students who need additional support, to prepare them for success in high school. RISE provides quarterly professional learning communities for administrators and school counselors, as well as monthly coaching for each school’s administrators and On-Track Specialists. The schools also benefit from team lead training, school-based professional development sessions, and school visits to observe on-track conferences and provide feedback.
“I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with RISE and promote the outstanding on-track culture initiatives that we both are passionate about,” says Pete Civitello, Supervisor of Data Integration and Post Secondary Planning for Meriden Public Schools. “Through this new initiative, we have the opportunity to establish an on-track and postsecondary mindset with our middle school students, which we feel will have a positive effect when they enter high school and beyond.”
As RISE strategies are proving to have a positive impact on our core network of schools, we are excited to continue scaling such practices in more schools and districts with the aim of affecting culture change, building staff capacity, facilitating educator learning and collaboration, and ultimately, improving student outcomes.