Naylor enrolls approximately 700 students from the surrounding neighborhood. Naylor is a turnaround school with low achievement. Historically, by grade 3, 60% of students had fallen behind grade level in reading and math. Naylor is facing the challenge of a highly mobile population while fighting to retain students attracted to the large number of magnet schools. As an added challenge, the district faced budget shortfalls as a result of declining enrollment and flat funding.
The district (Hartford Public Schools) wanted to turn around Naylor School and shift the educational experience of a changing neighborhood and its population of students by providing a different instructional response: an emphasis on personalized learning. It started with a careful review of systems and structure to allow instruction to become the driver of change.
After putting in place the structure and systems necessary to turn around the school, Naylor was able to focus on culture for learning. Teachers worked as a whole and in teams on their positional power to affect change. Teachers’ mindset was at the core of this cultural change. Their reflection was guided by the following question: What do I need to improve on as a teacher to be able to meet the needs of this student?
Teacher collaboration in a weekly half-day session is at the core of the Naylor change. Within the collaborative — named Naylor U — teachers in grade-level teams hold data conversations, review student work, plan together, review video of their practice, and conduct instructional rounds. This transformative experience is the vector for personalized learning, increased student engagement, and real-time repair and academic acceleration opportunities for students.
As a result of academic gains for students at Naylor Elementary in the 2014-2015 school year, all qualifying staff members received a financial bonus in September 2015.