RISE Partners with Hartford Public Schools on Freshman Success

Grade 9 Success

Founded in 2016, the RISE Network has collaborated with hundreds of educators to strengthen the Grade 9 experience and postsecondary success, growing from its initial five partner high schools to a core network of nine schools in eight districts across Connecticut. In an effort to scale student outcomes and learnings achieved with core network partners, RISE is now working to extend its impact in additional school communities. Beginning last year, Hartford Public Schools partnered with the RISE Network to scale freshman success strategies in three neighborhood high schools and one magnet school co-located within a neighborhood school.

The partnership, facilitated by RISE, between Weaver High School, Bulkeley High School, Richard J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts, and Hartford Public High School, has seen first-time Grade 9 students passing 6 or more classes rise from 66 percent in 2019-20 to 74 percent in 2020-21. 

For incoming freshmen, the transition to high school can be challenging. By bringing educators together to share their expertise and use data to personalize student supports, RISE collaborates with schools to ensure Grade 9 students stay on-track and earn enough credits to promote to Grade 10 and ultimately graduate prepared for postsecondary success.

Through the partnership in Hartford, school teams engage in weekly student-centered data meetings, monthly coaching with RISE staff, and monthly cross-school collaborative learning sessions. Grade 9 teams are pursuing new strategies to help all students successfully transition to, through, and beyond high school.

“Working with RISE has transformed the way I go about my work with the freshman team,” said Brooke Lafreniere, Assistant Principal, Bulkeley High School. “We have had huge increases in the number of students that are on track. Every teacher in the building can articulate what it means to be on track and the students can know what that means and then explain it to parents.”

Tiffany Webley, Acting Principal at Weaver High School, said the partnership has allowed her to strategically reach each student.

“The data is one thing, but having a plan to reach each student where they are is the real tool,” said Webley. “We can look at each student and assess how we respond.”

Sam Purdy, Deputy Director for Engagement at RISE, said the partnership proves that by working together — across content areas and schools — teams can amplify their individual and collective impact, promoting success for all students.

“The more schools and educators we work with, the more we are learning as an organization,” said Purdy. “We’ve been partners with Hartford from just about the very beginning of our work, so it is especially gratifying to have the opportunity to deepen our impact there.”