NEW HAVEN'S NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SCHOOL CHANGE INITIATIVE ISSUES PROGRESS REPORT
(New Haven, CT) Three and a half years after the launch of New Haven School Change, the school district is releasing a School Change report that reviews progress made toward school improvement goals. Under the leadership of Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo, the district launched New Haven School Change in 2010 and set out to achieve three goals: Eliminate the achievement gap with the state; improve four-year graduation rates and cut the dropout rate in half; and make sure every student can go to college and be successful. Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries, who was the architect of School Change as an Assistant Superintendent and who succeeded Dr. Mayo after his retirement in 2013, is continuing the momentum and calling for parents, educators and the community to work together to deepen and extend school reform efforts.
School change started in 2009 with a deeply collaborative partnership with the New Haven Federation of Teachers, embodied in a nationally recognized teachers' union contract. Since that point, graduation rates have followed a dramatic upward trend, with a simultaneous decline in the number of students dropping out of school. Academic achievement as measured by state tests has increased slowly, but steadily, outpacing growth at the state level. New Haven Promise is empowering more students to pursue their dreams of college. Programs like Boost! and growing community partnerships are giving more students access to critical support resources. And community and parent engagement is on the rise.
New Haven School Change stands out among reform initiatives across the country for its commitment to professionalized teaching and its collaboration with teachers and school leaders. Last month, teachers ratified a second landmark reform contract that creates opportunities for outstanding teachers to earn more compensation by working in hard-to-serve schools and expanding their role outside of the classroom.
"School Change aims to give every student at every school from every corner of New Haven a chance to rise to a successful future. We are not there yet, but together we are making undeniable progress. Take these New Haven Academy students, who not only are preparing for college by taking college classes for credit and preparing for careers by pursuing real-world internships, they're also serving as model citizens through social action projects that directly impact the community," Superintendent Harries said.
"When we set out to implement School Change, we took a comprehensive look at the policies, practices and programs that need to be in place in order for our work to be successful. We worked with teachers, whose invaluable input was necessary for our work to be successful. We worked with great partners and launched Boost! and also ensured that mental and behavioral health supports are available. We launched New Haven Promise with some more great partners, still the only Promise program in Connecticut, so students who hard so work and achieve would not be thwarted by financial constraints and they can continue onto college. This report represents a fair analysis of School Change--its impressive successes and challenges that remain," said Mayor DeStefano.
New Haven School Change is possible because of many partners, including the New Haven Promise, the United Way of Greater New Haven, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, College Summit and many more. The district also has strong partnerships with area colleges and university, including Yale University, Southern Connecticut State University, and Gateway Community College.
In January, Superintendent Harries will release his Listening Tour report, detailing ideas, priorities and concerns raised through his Superintendent's Night Out events and visits with community groups. The report will be used to help provide guidance for determining next steps to advance School Change and ways to more deeply involve the community.