University Of Hartford Forges Complementary Agreement With City Schools
Vanessa de la Torre
June 15, 2011
The city's classrooms will serve as a research hub for the University of Hartford under an agreement Wednesday that will tie the school system's reform efforts to the private college.
University officials believe the partnership with the city schools is the first of its kind in Connecticut, one that will have a systemwide impact on both institutions.
Students at the magnet University High School of Science and Engineering already take college-level courses at the university, and qualified students at other city schools would also be given that chance under the new pact.
In turn, the school system will give priority to the university's education majors when they apply for student teaching positions, and the city schools will use the university's research to improve its own teaching and reform strategies.
University President Walter Harrison and the incoming school superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, signed an initial five-year agreement at the Betances Early Reading Lab School on Charter Oak Avenue before a crowd that included Mayor Pedro Segarra and top college administrators.
School officials picked Betances for a reason. Over the past year, university faculty have studied classroom video from the school to investigate, in part, how teachers' professional development can affect early literacy. Another research question focuses on the effect of family involvement when a student is learning how to read.
The partnership ties into a new literacy pledge that Kishimoto is making to begin her tenure as schools chief. Students who enter pre-K or kindergarten at a city school this August, she said, will be expected to read at their grade level by the end of third grade.
Betances will be the research base for that effort, said Kishimoto, an assistant superintendent who will take over for the retiring Superintendent Steven Adamowski next month.
Driving the overall research in the city schools will be the university's Institute for Translational Research in Education, Nursing, and Health Professions, created in 2010. The point is to "translate," or apply, findings to real-world settings. A year ago, the university approved a similar agreement with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center to improve patient care.
The formal affiliation with Hartford schools will apply to all of the university's academic colleges, such as the arts and sciences, engineering, technology and architecture, and the Hartt School conservatory, Harrison said Wednesday.
The university has long developed relationships with some schools in Hartford's North End, including University High School, the magnet STEM and Montessori schools at Annie Fisher, and Global Communications Academy on Tower Avenue, where education students have been working as interns this year.
Harrison said the university also wants to be involved in the proposed overhaul of the neighboring Weaver High School. He likened the possibilities to the Learning Corridor in Hartford's South End, which holds several magnet schools on a 16-acre campus alongside Trinity College.
Earlier this month, the school system signed a 10-year agreement with Trinity to create a grade 6-12 magnet school in the Learning Corridor that will be named the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. Trinity faculty members are working with teachers to design the curriculum, and the academy's seniors will be able to take classes on the Trinity campus starting in 2014.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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