State initiative gets school districts to learn from one another

Published on Sunday, 29 September 2019 20:59
Written by Catherine Shen


NEW BRITAIN - A new initiative launched by the state Department of Education will highlight districts addressing common issues and problems through innovative strategies that are producing successful outcomes.

Learn Together, Grow Together CT is part of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona’s focus on leveraging resources already in place around the state to better facilitate collaboration and common goals.

Cardona said many districts are dealing with issues that have already been overcome in other districts. The priority of the initiative is to share strategies that are working. It supports the department’s efforts to do a better job of creating lines of communications and sharing best practices.

The first installment of the initiative will feature two topic areas: chronic absenteeism and student attendance, and college and career readiness.

According to the department, several school districts, including Thomaston, Bristol, Enfield and Middletown, have used innovative approaches to combat those topics. Thomaston focused on building positive relationships with the students that are chronically absent and their families, while Bristol and Enfield maintained partnerships with community colleges to address career readiness and Middletown increased access to advanced placement courses for college readiness.

Nancy Sarra, superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain, said the district’s Every Day Matters campaign, which was launched in the summer to address chronic absenteeism, is already seeing a positive impact.

“We saw a spike in student absenteeism and knew we needed a strategy for it,” she said. The strategy was to engage with families and students through 10 newly hired family liaisons. They were able to establish great relationships with the families, have dialogues with them and encourage the students to go to school.”

The district-wide focus is to continue to engage both families and students to make sure they come to school, said Sarra. “Attendance isn’t a root cause, it’s a symptom. So we’re trying to address the students’ needs. We’re already noticing a difference when we make comparisons to last September’s attendance numbers and we want to maintain that positive trend.”

Randy Brochu, the district’s communication specialist, added that they are proud of the work they are doing for college and career readiness.

“Specifically, the New Britain High School Academies offer hands-on, minds-on education introducing students to professional opportunities through real-world experiences,” he said. The curriculum of the four academies is geared towards making them career-ready upon graduation, while also providing job-shadowing, internship, and apprenticeship opportunities that allow them to network for their future while learning practical skills in the professions they are being introduced to.”

The NBHS academies consist of the Business and Finance Academy, Health and Sciences Academy, Public Service Academy, and Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology Academy.

Contact Catherine Shen at 860-801-5093 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, State on Sunday, 29 September 2019 20:59. Updated: Sunday, 29 September 2019 21:01.