A Summer Melt Update

Last year, the Summer Melt Action Team (part of the All In! coalition) made their first attempt to increase the rate of Hartford Public Schools (HPS) students enrolling in college in the fall immediately following their graduation. After selecting and intervening with a cohort of 127 students from the class of 2017, that rate increased by three points over the previous year, to a new high of 61%.

And with assistance from researchers at the University of Connecticut, this year’s team is striving for a larger impact and greater rigor.

Following a proposal which has just cleared UConn’s Institutional Review Board—a body that ensures adherence to ethical research standards—the researchers are set to conduct focus groups of last year’s participants and outreach specialists to inform practice improvements for the coming year.

Following the focus groups (and a review of relevant academic literature and last year’s data), the UConn researchers will produce a practice manual to standardize the training of our outreach specialists and the intervention they deliver. One of the impending modifications to that intervention is that it will now be informed by principles of self-efficacy training. The precise nature of this is still to be determined, pending completion of the manual.

In the meantime, staff at the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education will be pursuing a recruitment goal of 200 students. For this, they will be working together with school counselors at HPS high schools. Counselors will use their access to data—and to the students themselves—to identify which students have been accepted to college and wish to attend, but are, in their professional opinion, at risk of not enrolling for the fall. The basics of this process were recently presented to the school counselors during one of their recent professional development sessions on February 20th, to prepare them for the coming project.