Message from Dr. Kishimoto June 19, 2013

Spotlight on Excellence     June 2013

Message from Dr. Kishimoto     June 19, 2013

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto


June 19, 2013

To the Hartford Public Schools Family:

School reform is personal to me.

It is not an abstract concept built around theories of action, portfolios of schools or test scores — it is about the future of my own daughter who attends the Hartford Public Schools and the 24,000 other children who are part of the Hartford Public Schools family.

While I was disappointed by the actions of the Board and Mayor yesterday evening, we must not allow ourselves to be distracted from building on the considerable progress that we have made in advancing student achievement in Hartford Public Schools.  

In the coming school year, we have a number of priorities that lie ahead, not the least of which is the opening of three new school buildings, creating a new instructional approach for ELL instruction and piloting a blended learning approach for our high schools. We must attack these challenges with the same pioneering drive that has sustained our reform strategy to this point.

The facts are clear.

In the 8 years that I have been part of the team at the Hartford Public Schools — crafting and implementing school reform including my two years as superintendent — we have seen tremendous increases in student achievement, increased graduation rates, increased choice for parents and national recognition for our reform efforts:

•    A reduction of the achievement gap by 1/3 between Hartford students and their peers statewide

•    Significant increases in Reading in grades 4, 5, 7 and 8 in 2012 alone

•    Significant increases in CMT performance in all four tested content areas in grade 8; our strongest entering 9th grade class in 2012

•    18 schools with significant performance gains and the largest number of schools at the goal level in 2012 since the start of our reform

•    Highest graduation rate since the start of our reform at 64.8% in 2012 compared to 34% in 2006; highest number of students (89%) taking the SAT in 2012 since the start of our reform

•    Creating a framework for college access and degree attainment program by engaging partners in delivering on the Hartford Promise, with $4.1 million committed to date.

•    A historic commitment of $5 million by the Gates Foundation and nearly a $500,000 from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation along with significant local business contributions.

•    Development of the next level of work in Parents as Partners through a 25-parent taskforce and a Family and Community strategic plan.

•    Increasing student empowerment through a district-wide student senate and the selection of two students to serve on the Board of Education.

•    Expansion of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) agenda including the replication of Annie Fisher STEM School at Betances; winning the state and national Green School Award at Mary Hooker; transitioning from a traditional Science Fair to a district STEM Expo; hosting our first regional STEM Conference, and receiving best high school in America status from U.S. News and World Reports for our Sport & Medical Sciences Academy.

These are real and tangible results that matter in the lives of our students and their families.  More needs to be done, particularly in quality programming for English Language Learners.

I am very proud to be part of a team that has changed the question from “if” Hartford students can achieve to “how soon” they will achieve at the same levels of their peers throughout the state.

This is not because as a single leader I have produced this record, but because as a leader I accepted the baton from my predecessor, built upon that success, and through a clear vision of success I have assembled an orchestra of talented Principals, teachers, administrators, parent leaders and partners who believe in our vision and will help us get there.

In the coming year, I will continue to collaborate with those in our community who are firmly committed to a vision of higher standards and expectations for our students and look forward to building on the foundation of success we have created since 2006.

My daughter and the children of thousands of Hartford families are the reason I believe so passionately in the important work we are doing to reform education in Hartford. We are changing the lives of thousands of children for the better and we must continue to do so.


Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto
Hartford Public Schools

To learn more about our accomplishments of the 2012-2013 school year, please enjoy my conversation with  Hartford Public Schools' Ombudsman, Marta Bentham, as we discuss, "A Year in School Reform." 

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