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CT Department of Education Launches "Learn Together, Grow Together CT"

New Resource Highlights and Provides Promising Practices, Proven Models by Districts for Districts

(Hartford, CT) - The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) today launched its new Learn Together, Grow Together CT initiative, which will highlight districts addressing common issues and problems through innovative approaches, ideas and strategies that are producing successful outcomes. Learn Together, Grow Together CT will also promote these promising practices in district profiles inventoried on the CSDE website so that other district leaders and educators can connect with fellow districts and borrow, adapt and put to use these proven models in their own districts and schools. The initiative is part of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona’s major points of focus to leverage the collective capacity and resources already in place around the state in order to better facilitate collaboration around common goals.

“Across the state districts large and small are dealing with many of the same issues and challenges that have already been successfully overcome in another Connecticut district. A priority of CSDE is to focus on and share strategies that we know are working. If we can learn from each other and grow together, then we can leverage our collective capacity statewide to address some of the most prevalent hurdles facing us as educators,” said Commissioner Cardona. “This initiative supports our efforts to do a better job of creating lines of communication and sharing best practices to accelerate the most important aspect of everything we do: improving achievement, closing gaps and preparing all of our students for bright and promising futures.”

Learn Together, Grow Together CT consists of a social media campaign and dedicated page on CSDE’s website with an inventory of district profiles on promising practices they have implemented as well as the results that have been yielded. Learn Together, Grow Together CT will identify and promote the most exceptional strategies and encourage districts to connect with their counterparts around the state to learn what impact these approaches are having on the success of students, educators and district operations. Districts can share with CSDE their own promising practices to be highlighted by following CSDE on Facebook and Twitter then tagging @ctdepartmentofeducation in posts and Tweeting at @EducateCT. Posts and Tweets should include the hashtag #LearnGrowCT

The first installment of Learn Together, Grow Together CT will feature with two topic areas: Chronic Absenteeism and Student Attendance; and, College and Career Readiness (“CCR 2.0”). Those profiles include:

  • Thomaston - District Attendance Review Board (DARB): Four years ago, Thomaston implemented its DARB as part of a tiered attendance protocol to address chronic absenteeism and improve student attendance. The DARB’s members – which include at least one administrator, social worker/guidance counselor from each building, nurse and representatives from community agencies – attempt to build positive relationships with and become a partner to students and families who are or are on track to becoming chronically absent or truant. The DARB provides an alternative option that has led to a decrease in chronic absenteeism through improved family engagement and communication with parents/guardians.   
  • Bristol, Enfield and Middletown - College and Career Readiness (CCR): these districts’ practices around CCR are being highlighted for their improvements over the past several years, especially among students from low-income families. These districts are supporting innovative approaches by their educators including:
    • broadening the criteria for recommending students for rigorous courses like Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or dual enrollment;
    • modifying school schedules to allow for deeper and flexible learning options;
    • providing dedicated career counseling services; and
    • making continuous improvements to their partnerships with colleges and employers.
  • Bristol is articulating more of its courses with the UCONN Early College Experience (ECE) program and offering Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway courses through Tunxis Community College.
  • Enfield has a strong partnership with Asnuntuck Community College to offer programs in advanced manufacturing. They also collaborate with employers including 3M, Bushnell, VOYA, Real Art Ways, and NBC around job shadowing, skill development, and field trip opportunities.
  • Middletown is significantly increasing access to AP and ECE courses by broadening the criteria for selecting students. Teachers and staff are asked to consider not only academic readiness, but also other factors like grit and perseverance.

These districts’ strategies, as well as those happening in districts across the state, have propelled Connecticut to become the state with the third highest growth among students eligible for free-or-reduced price meals with respect to participation in the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) program. AP participation among those students has increased by 64 percent from 3,372 students in 2015 to 5,533 students in 2019.  To support this trend, the CSDE will continue to pay the remainder of fees not covered by the College Board for low-income students to take AP exams; a similar approach is being considered for the IB program as well.

A vital component for the success of any district innovation is the commitment of the respective local board of education to provide the supports necessary so all students can achieve to their fullest potential. For more detailed insights into these promising practices, please visit Learn Together, Grow Together CT.


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