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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

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