Symposium Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please find additional Symposium information below, and please submit questions to We will periodically update this FAQ based on questions submitted to RISE.

Q: How does RISE define Grade 9 on-track achievement?

A: Grade 9 on-track achievement is defined by a school’s promotion requirements for a student to advance from freshman to sophomore year. Graduation and promotion requirements may differ by school, so this is a school-specific measure. For example, if a school requires students to earn six credits in order to promote on-time to sophomore year, then the on-track rate would be the percentage of freshmen earning six or more credits by the end of the year. Another school may require six credits and also state that students must pass Algebra I; therefore, that school’s on-track rate would be the percentage of freshmen earning six or more credits and passing Algebra I.

Q: Our school has had a freshman academy structure for a number of years. Will this symposium meet our needs?

A: Yes, your school would be in a great position to participate. As an organization, we recommend that schools embrace a teaming structure in Grade 9, so your configuration puts you in an ideal position to take this work to the next level. The Symposium will support schools in reflecting on past practices and re-setting systems and structures to support improved student outcomes. For example, RISE will help schools reflect on team meeting structures and use of data to better support outcomes-driven educator collaboration, as well as on the student experience of freshman year to improve engagement and investment during the high school transition.

Q: Our school is relatively new to Grade 9 on-track work. Will this symposium meet our needs?

A: Yes. The Grade 9 Summer Symposium will support school teams in developing their vision and plans to promote freshman success. We have experience working with schools from the ground up in the areas of policies, promotion requirements, staffing, scheduling, and more. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from Connecticut high schools who have advanced Grade 9 on-track achievement over the past six years; this will give school teams the opportunity to learn about diverse models and adapt strategies to meet their local contexts.

Q: Looking ahead to 2023-24, are there specific Grade 9 structures that RISE recommends?

A: Yes. We recommend high schools organize Grade 9 students and staff on teams. That way, an interdisciplinary team of educators supports a shared caseload of students. This promotes collaboration among teachers and support staff, and fosters a strong sense of community with students and caregivers. We understand that some schools may not be able to make staffing and scheduling shifts during the 2023-24 school year, and we will support schools in developing long-term plans to support freshman success. RISE partner high schools have also experienced success adding the On-Track Coordinator role to their freshman teams; On-Track Coordinators support a targeted caseload of freshman identified for additional support based on Grade 8 data. Schools do not need to have this role in order to participate in the Symposium and advance Grade 9 on-track work at their schools.

Q: What supports are available after the Summer Symposium?

A: We are eager to support school teams as they pursue the implementation phase and turnkey Symposium trainings with their local school staff. The Symposium registration includes two hours of follow-on virtual coaching, meaning that your school team may sign up for personalized coaching sessions with RISE staff as you prepare for the 2023-24 school year.

Additionally, we invite school teams to consider joining RISE’s Freshman Focus Network, a network of schools working together throughout the 2023-24 school year to pursue new Grade 9 strategies and structures. Network participation will include virtual community of practice sessions, an in-person convening for up to 5 people, monthly school-specific coaching, and access to RISE resources and tools. Symposium registrants will receive more information about the Grade 9 network opportunity in early spring.

Q: What are the health and safety protocols for this event?

A: RISE is prioritizing the safety and comfort of all participants, including by following all local and federal health guidelines. In-person RISE professional learning events like the Summer Symposium are mask-friendly gatherings. Event staff will seek to accommodate attendee needs and/or preferences indicated in the registration survey.

Q: We anticipate staffing changes on our Grade 9 team. Is it okay if we register someone who has not yet been hired/identified?

A: Yes, but please note that registrations are non-refundable. We fully recognize that staffing changes occur in the spring and summer months. We ask that you provide final attendee information no later than three weeks prior to the Symposium. That way, we can provide participants with information they need going into the event. 

Q: Does the registration fee include overnight lodging for participants?

A: No. We encourage participants seeking to stay in the Hartford area overnight to explore one of the more than a dozen hotels within a 10-15 minute drive of The Delamar and to make reservations as soon as possible.

Q: Can federal funds be used to cover costs of participation in the Grade 9 Summer Symposium?

A: Yes. Registration costs associated with attending RISE’s Summer Symposium are considered allowable expenses under numerous federal funding programs.