Extended School Hours Grant RFP

Pre-K Readiness Programs







Acceleration Agenda

What is the Acceleration Agenda?

The Hartford Public Schools’ Transition Report (2014) raised several important themes, including:
·         A demonstrated urgency to improve neighborhood schools
·         The need to increase systemic focus on teaching and learning
·         Lack of systematic approach to student interventions
·         A need to create meaningful engagement and partnerships
·         A need to build the capacity of leaders, teachers and staff who serve our students
Since the publishing of the report, district leaders spent time learning the stories of our schools through school visits, data analysis and having in-depth conversations with principals and staff. We heard about the need for stability. We heard that we have raised the bar on what schools need to do and kids need to learn but our instructional approach is lacking. We heard about the need to better coordinate and optimize resources for students and families. The Acceleration Agenda directly responds to those concerns.
The Acceleration Agenda will focus on the individual strengths and needs of our students. It is a focused action plan to address educational equity and achievement by optimizing support for schools and creating consistency of practice. Agenda schools will be part of a network that will engage in continuous improvement to boost performance and outcomes. According to Turnaround Practices in Action, schools that have experienced dramatic performance turnarounds were consistent in applying research-based practices over a three-year period. Specifically, schools that demonstrated gains, were places that:
·         Have strong leadership, shared responsibility for the work, and created a culture of professional collaboration.
·         Employ intentional practices for improving teacher-specific and student-responsive instruction.
·         Use timely data to design and implement student-centered supports and interventions.
The first Acceleration Agenda group of schools will be six K-8 elementary schools:
·         Thirman Milner Elementary School
·         Burns Latino Studies Academy
·         Alfred E. Burr Elementary
·         Fred D. Wish Elementary School
·         Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
·         John C. Clark Elementary School
Future groups will be invited into the Acceleration Agenda network as the work of the first group is assessed.

Why the Acceleration Agenda?

The Acceleration Agenda is a commitment to our students, families, schools, staff and communities. It is informed by the individual needs of our students and schools. The Acceleration Agenda aims to ensure that every student within our care and within our city thrives and that every school is high performing.

How will the Acceleration Agenda be implemented?

Under the leadership of Hartford Public Schools, we will implement the strategy with assistance from City Connects, the Achievement Network (ANet) and the Connecticut Center for School Change – high capacity organizations that all possess a track record of success in school turnaround. We will accelerate learning by taking a case-management approach to personalize solutions for all of our students, classrooms and schools.
·         ANet (The Achievement Network) will provide schools with professional learning and a wealth of tools to help our educators accelerate the rate of student achievement growth. The approach is grounded on aligning timely data and standards to inform instruction. Employing grade level and content area collaborative structures, teachers will have the opportunity to learn from and with their colleagues. From informing lesson planning to instructional delivery, and timely use of student-specific data, teachers will be provided with the instructional strategies and supports that best meet the individual needs of their students. In addition, schools will be provided with access to a network of peers, locally and nationally, to share and learn best practices.
·         City Connects supports a student service delivery system that leverages school and community resources tailored to the unique strengths and needs of students. Each student will have a profile that addresses his/her strengths and needs in the areas of academics, social/emotional/behavioral growth, health and family. A site coordinator at each school will use this information to connect students to individualized services that, for example, might include after school programming, out of school supports, mental health, and other essential services. City Connects will help grow the capacity of our staff through professional development and help align our systems to support the individual needs of our schools.
·         The Connecticut Center for School Change will work with Associate Superintendents to deepen their support of principal leadership development. The Center will also provide a third-party accountability structure through ongoing monitoring of the work. The Center will provide coaching and consultation in the identification and/or development of tools, processes and routines to support Acceleration Agenda.
Schools within the Acceleration Agenda Network will receive a range of resources to support implementation, including:
·         additional time for collaborative practice
·         dedicated and individualized student/family support services
·         hands-on coaching aligned to standards, curriculum, pedagogy and best assessment practices
·         technical assistance and network support
·         tailored professional learning opportunities within and outside of the district
·         dedicated technology resources 
·         access to their peers and other professional resources



The K-2 Literacy Curriculum


What is the K-2 Literacy Curriculum?

As part of our effort to provide our schools with quality, culturally responsive curriculum, our schools now have access to a Connecticut Core Standards aligned K-2 Literacy Curriculum. Developed in partnership with teachers and principals, the curriculum features an interdisciplinary approach across instructional areas:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Science – Next Generation Science Standards
  • Social Studies – C3 Standards (College, Career, Civic Life)
The curriculum is designed to meet the developmental needs of early readers using two approaches in particular:
* An in-depth foundational skills component aimed at teaching students concepts of print, letter and sound recognition (phonics), and other basic grammar and conventions, such as punctuation.
* A balanced literacy approach aimed at using foundational skills – putting letters and words together – to access and comprehend texts.
Students are exposed to “culturally-responsive” (what does that mean, in plain English? Culturally-relevant, perhaps?) literature and texts that increase in complexity throughout the year using a variety of genres, including prose and poetry. Instructional strategies that increase student participation and discussion are at the heart of the curriculum.

How and why was the K-2 Literacy Curriculum developed?

During the 2014-2015 academic year, six (6) Hartford Public schools joined a pilot group to develop the integrated K-2 Literacy Curriculum. This academic year an additional nine (9) schools were added to the implementation cohort. The curriculum writing team, comprised of leaders and teachers from the school and central office levels, began the work by setting a clear vision for our earliest readers:
  • All students will read rich, complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently using the K-2 Literacy Curriculum.
  • All students will be engaged in rigorous literacy instruction through this student-centered, comprehensive and balanced literacy approach.
  • Students will think creatively as they individually and collaboratively build knowledge and analyze concepts, issues, events and themes from diverse perspectives.
The process of writing the K-2 Literacy Curriculum was unique, with teacher leaders within classrooms serving as curriculum writers and developers. These individuals provided ongoing feedback, recommendations and revisions during implementation to ensure that all aspects of the vision statement were visible in K-2 Literacy instruction. As we continue to refine the work as we move forward with implementation.

What does the K-2 Literacy Curriculum look like in the classroom?


Recommended K-2 Balanced Literacy Block

Read Aloud

15-20 min


The teacher is reading aloud to the whole class from a text from the curriculum’s Read Aloud Texts selections, and the teacher is asking text-dependent questions.


Students are listening to the text being read aloud and answering questions posed by the teacher either to the entire group or through student discussion.

Foundational Skill Instruction

15-20 min


The teacher is delivering instruction around a foundational skill standard in accordance with the curriculum scope and sequence.


Students are engaged in the lesson through fluency activities and hands-on strategies to build foundational skills of reading.

Content Literacy: Shared Reading & Writing

1 hour


The teacher is providing targeted instruction around the reading and writing focus in order to give every child access to grade level complex text.


Students are accessing grade level complex text through close reading strategies with a clear focus on reading comprehension.  Students are responding to text through an authentic writing task. 

Small Group Instruction/Stations

1 hour


The teacher is providing small group instruction based on text at students’ instructional levels.


Students are reading, practicing fluency, and focusing on comprehension.

Flexible Use of Time

30 min

Additional Foundational Skills block, Vocabulary, Intervention Groups, Small Group, Independent Reading.


Is my school involved?


2014-2015 Pilot Schools

2015-2016 Schools

Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School
Early Reading Lab at Betances School
Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan
Milner School
Parkville Community School
Sanchez School
Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School
Asian Studies Academy
Clark School
Early Reading Lab at Betances School
Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker
Expeditionary Learning Academy at MoylanKennelly School
Martin Luther King, Jr. School
Milner SchoolRawson School
Parkville Community School
R.J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts
Sanchez SchoolWest Middle School

back to Early Literacy

back to the Strategic Operating Plan

High School Centers of Innovation

What is Student-centered Learning?


Student centered-learning is about meeting students where they are in their learning. Different learning and engagement strategies work for different students. While an internship may provide a student with the opportunity for practical application of what they learned in the classroom and experience developing real world job readiness skills, a hands-on project in the classroom may provide independent or collaborative time to deepen understanding of a particular concept in the classroom. Student-centered learning recognizes that students learn in different ways and as such, our district needs to change to meet those needs.

There are four key tenets [1] that define student-centered learning:

·         Learning is Personalized – Students benefit when we meet them where they are in their learning, provide different approaches to learning, assess skills and knowledge, and address students’ needs and interests.
·         Learning is Competency-Based – Students benefit when we build systems that recognize mastery of content.
·         Learning Happens Anytime, Anywhere – Students benefit when we recognize that learning can take place beyond the traditional confines of the classroom.
·         Students Take Ownership Over Their Learning – Students benefit when they are engaged in the design of their own learning by incorporating their own interests and skills in the learning process.


What are High School Centers of Innovation?

High School Centers of Innovation are designed to promote innovation and support our efforts to transform Hartford Public Schools into a student-centered learning system. Three Centers of Innovation, which partner magnet and neighborhood schools side-by-side, work together to learn and refine student-centered learning strategies and help close the equity gaps between magnet and neighborhood schools. Serving as laboratories of innovation, the partnerships are intentionally designed to cultivate collaboration among schools and develop teacher and leader capacity with a focus on student-centered learning practices.


On What Will the Centers of Innovation Focus?

The three Centers will focus on the delivery of student-centered learning practices and programs. The work will, for example, include:
·         The expansion of blended learning as an anytime, anywhere approach.
·         The utilization of internships, other work-based learning opportunities, and project-based learning as personalized learning approaches.
·         Implementation of a mastery-based curriculum, instruction, assessment, and learning as a competency-based approach.
All three Centers of Innovation will focus on increasing student engagement and responsibility for their own learning by ensuring student voice and choice – thus ensuring that student needs and interests are represented.


How Will the Centers of Innovation Be Implemented?

Each Center of Innovation will create an implementation plan to transition to student-centered learning systems. The plan will include:
·         Professional Learning Communities Design
·         Access to national experts that will provide ongoing guidance and support
·         Access to leader and teacher best practices
The approach will allow core school leadership to transform our system to one that is based on student-centered learning.  The work will build school-level capacity and generate real-time knowledge and recommendations that will support our goal to put students at the center of their learning.  

Early Literacy


Kathleen England, Chief Academic Officer,

Dolores (Dee) Cole, Ed.D., Executive Director of Early Literacy,
Iris Febles-Martinez, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director,
Vanessa Diaz-Valencia, Assistant Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Programs,
Jaclyn Nardi, Early Literacy Curriculum Specialist,
Mary Vallera, Early Literacy Instructional Coach,
Richelle Benjamin, Intern,
The Department of Early Literacy believes that all HPS students will read rich, complex literary and informational text independently and proficiently through a guaranteed and viable K-2 Literacy Curriculum. All students will be highly engaged in rigorous and relevant literacy instruction throughout a student-centered, comprehensive and balanced literacy approach. Students will think creatively as they individually and collaboratively build knowledge through exploration, and analyze concepts, issues, events and themes from diverse perspectives.

Hartford’s New K-2 Literacy Curriculum