RISE Partners with Harvard’s Educational Research Division to Share Promising Practices

College and Career ReadinessNetwork Collaboration and Learning

As an organization that supports nine high schools within Connecticut, RISE is excited to expand our impact, ensuring students graduate with a plan and the skills and confidence to achieve college and career success. These efforts were manifested recently in a new partnership with the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks (NCRERN).

NCRERN – a branch of the Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research – aims to expand the use of evidence-based decision-making in rural education. Having identified postsecondary readiness and entry as among the most pressing challenges identified by the districts they serve, NCRERN utilizes a continuous improvement model to help partners better understand these challenges and rapidly identify and implement solutions.

Following a connection between program managers at NCRERN and RISE, RISE Postsecondary team members were asked to serve as thought partners to help launch new strategies that could be beneficial to the rural school districts with which NCRERN collaborates. 

Beginning in the Spring of 2022, RISE partnered with NCRERN staff to review and reflect on postsecondary planning materials and checklists to support school teams in successfully implementing an enhanced postsecondary strategy. Their work supported NCRERN in identifying strengths and growth opportunities and operationalizing improvements to advance postsecondary success. Additionally, RISE presented two professional learning experiences for partner school districts in rural New York and Ohio.

At these convenings, RISE offered school teams promising practices around applying checklist frameworks to promote postsecondary access. The strategy sessions, which were led by Sherry McLaughlin, Deputy Director for Postsecondary Success, and Abby Marcantonio, Postsecondary Success Coach, covered the key steps of identifying and tracking student milestones, rolling out checklists, supporting students with milestone completion, and reviewing and reflecting upon data. RISE provided examples for schools to create their own postsecondary checklists and assisted teams in identifying goals for strategy and data. 

In supporting NCRERN, RISE helped to advance postsecondary goals in collaboration with partner high schools seeking to build a postsecondary culture where all students are supported to achieve their college and career aspirations. 

“Our RISE partners have been amazing to work with,” says Kellie Solowski, Senior Research Program Manager for NCRERN. “Through our collaboration with RISE, my colleagues and I felt equipped to use their framework to support a cohort of 19 rural districts in launching an intervention focused on postsecondary pathway checklists. The training facilitated by RISE provided guidance to our program team and helped shape the support our districts received and will receive over the course of the school year. ”

RISE was honored to collaborate with NCRERN, serving as a thought partner in resource development, best practices, and adult learning while supporting and learning from rural school districts. Whether in this context or within the urban districts RISE has historically partnered with, we recognize that, though the approach may be different, the work is the same and of equal importance. All students need to be supported in completing milestones and reaching their goals. 

“Support in rural districts can look very different from that of our more urban network school teams, yet the milestones seniors need to complete to meet their postsecondary goals are the same,” said RISE Postsecondary Success Coach Abby Marcantonio. “Through our collaboration with NCRERN, I know how effective a pathway checklist can be in supporting students and families in their post-high school planning. The opportunity to challenge school teams in identifying strategies that really make an impact on student outcomes was extremely rewarding.”

RISE’s Deputy Director for Postsecondary Success, Sherry McLaughlin, shares this sentiment. “Our team at RISE is committed to supporting not only our network partners but schools across the state and beyond in building solid strategies to guide students and their families as they prepare for their next journey,” she said. “In working with NCRERN we were able to share strategies that have proven successful, as well as learn from their network schools, and continue to grow as an organization in leading the work with postsecondary success.”

Learn more about the RISE Network, including opportunities for coaching and professional learning.