The “acceleration agenda” being piloted at six Hartford schools is taking on family, medical, social and emotional needs at the individual student level, to boost performance.  As the buzz saw of budget cutbacks approaches, this customized, case-management approach is quietly making a difference, student by student.

“The key to individual planning is systematic follow-through on both needs and enrichment for every single child,” Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez said at a District panel discussion Tuesday evening.  “We can’t focus on teaching and learning in the classroom if we’re not focusing on the whole child.”

Indeed, getting families what they need within an hour is possible by leveraging the assets of the community, she said.

Dr. Narvaez moderated a panel discussion with educators and a parent, to review the acceleration agenda work at Burns Latino Studies Academy and the Burr, Clark, Martin Luther King, Jr., Milner, and Wish Museum Schools.  Here are some of the highlights:

After-School Enrichment.  Burr School and Community Supports Site Coordinator Bobby Casiano emphasized the wraparound family, health, social-emotional, and academic supports that his organization, City Connects, works to deliver with the lead agency, The Village, for each and every student.  For example, parents seeking swimming lessons and sports experiences for their children are no less part of the work.

Time to Dissect Data and Plan.  Burns Latino Studies Academy Teacher Mary LaFountain said the biggest support through the pilot has been release time for teachers to examine “true data” and collaboratively plan for each child.

A Welcoming Attitude.  Since his daughter just transferred to MLK and is shy, Parent Randy Norman said, it has been important that she has been made to feel at home.  “The teachers have asked for suggestions, they have complied, and they have connected,” he said.  “Basically, I just want you to continue on the same path.”

The components of the support for schools include technical assistance from ANet on the use of data for assessing student progress; site coordinators from City Connects to leverage school and community resources for children; and leadership consultations, in which the CT Center for School Change works with HPS associate superintendents of instructional leadership with respect to their professional development activities with school principals.

Here is the brief video describing the acceleration agenda (shown at the panel discussion Tuesday evening).

The Bottom Line.  The work of the acceleration agenda pilot is a major part of the District’s 2015-2020 Strategic Operating Plan.  It is evidence-based, drawing upon turnaround school successes elsewhere and now here.  In the current budget climate, how its best practices can be expanded – not to mention if and when – is a troubling question.