Superintendent Launches New Five-Year Strategic Direction
(Thursday, June 25, 2015) Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez wound up her first year at the helm of the Hartford Public Schools by unveiling a new strategic direction for the years 2015 to 2020 that promises to achieve equitable outcomes in which every student thrives and every school is high performing.
If each component of the new strategic operating plan is implemented faithfully, it can be expected that by 2020 Hartford Public Schools will have a 100 percent college acceptance rate, a 90 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent rate of access to college and career opportunities.
Milestones to get to these college and career readiness outcomes include dramatically reduced suspensions and chronic absenteeism and students mastering gatekeeper subjects of reading proficiently by the end of third grade and passing Algebra 1 by the end of 9th grade.
The superintendent announced the new strategic goals, which were compiled with the assistance of a strategic advisory board that included parents, educators, business leaders and community partners, at a press conference this afternoon in the district’s central office at 960 Main Street in Hartford.
“These are very high expectations, but people rise to high expectations,” Superintendent Narvaez said. “They’re ambitious, but doable.”
The new course of action relies on two key approaches to education: Putting students at the center of their learning and developing leaders to lead for learning, both within and outside of the school community, who will guide students toward the ultimate goal of college and career readiness.
Under the first approach, every child in the school system will have an individualized student learning plan that identifies his or her interests and goals, so that schools can target their resources to help meet those goals. Every child will also be connected to a caring adult, who will oversee the child’s educational development. Putting students at the center of their learning also requires that all schools place a heavy emphasis on literacy and language and that they enable their students to have customized experiences, such as internships, that show how their education applies to real life.
The second approach – developing educational leaders – calls for the establishment of School Support Networks, in which educators cooperate with each other and share resources. It also calls on schools to engage families and community partners, to the fullest extent possible, in providing activities outside the classroom that support the learning that goes on inside the classroom.
“These new methods represent a big shift from competition to collaboration in learning,” Superintendent Narvaez said.
To facilitate student centered learning and the development of educational leaders throughout Hartford Public Schools, the district will be launching three new initiatives. The first is a new K-2 literacy curriculum that is intended to have every child reading proficiently by third grade. The second is the expansion of High School Centers of Innovation that were piloted over the past year under a grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation. The centers combine blended learning – student interaction with teachers and technology – with project-based learning, including internships and job shadowing, and standard mastery learning. The third is an “Acceleration Agenda” or focused action plan to optimize support for the city’s neighborhood schools in ways that will boost student achievement.
“This will be our roadmap for the next five years,” Superintendent Narvaez said. “It’s a refocusing of our priorities to really level the playing field for kids.”