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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.

[1]Nellie Mae Foundation (

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