Innovative and award winning programs:
In 2015, Breakthrough Magnet School (now known as Breakthrough Magnet School South) won the “Best Magnet School in America” award from Magnet Schools of America out of its 3800 member schools. In 2016 Breakthrough was named, "A National School to Learn From" by Teach for America, and in 2017 was certified by Character.org as a National School of Character.
Hartford’s regional magnet school system has been a hub of educational innovation, with three public school Montessori programs, five state of the art STEM programs beginning at the elementary school level, dynamic K-12 arts and performing arts focused schools, including a flagship regional performing arts magnet high school with students from 30+ school districts.
Hartford area magnets have consistently won national honors, including:
Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2012
Sport and Medical Sciences Academy and University High School of Science & Engineering were ranked among “America’s Best High Schools” by US News & World Report in 2012
In 2011, Hartford Magnet Middle School (now known as Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy) won the “Best Magnet School in America” award from Magnet Schools of America
In 2012, University High School of Science and Engineering received the “Secondary School of Merit” award from Magnet Schools of America
Data released in 2013 (from Spring 2012) confirms that Hartford students attending racially and economically integrated regional magnet schools and/or attending suburban schools through the Open Choice program are outperforming Hartford students attending traditional public schools. Magnet and Open Choice students also performed extremely well in relation to Connecticut’s state averages for all students, on both the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) (grades 3-8) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) (grade 10). (See our charts, comparing CMT and CAPT achievement data for grades 3-10 and CMT scores for magnets and Open Choice, Grades 4-6-8.) In addition, graduation rates for Hartford students attending the regional magnet high schools exceed rates for many suburban high schools.
Of course, there’s a lot more to education than test scores and graduation rates. Research tells us that students attending racially and economically integrated also benefit in other important ways. They tend to possess better critical thinking skills and analytical ability and are more likely to form cross-racial friendships. Over the long-term, students who attend diverse schools are more likely choose diverse colleges, neighborhoods, and workplaces later in life. And, importantly, research also demonstrates that diverse schools are better equipped than high-poverty schools to counteract the negative effects of poverty.
Benefits to Hartford and the Region:
The economic development impacts of the Sheff remedies have been huge. New or substantially rehabilitated magnet schools have brought hundreds of millions of dollars of construction funds into the city, have made positive contributions to public housing redevelopment areas, and have provided key anchors for struggling city neighborhoods (in some cases helping to substantially transform neighborhoods).
Almost half of the Sheff regional magnet schools are administered by the Hartford Public Schools (HPS), and have led the comeback of the Hartford school system. Not only is HPS now recognized for running some of the best schools in the entire region, but the growth of the magnet school system was the key trigger for Hartford’s adoption of an all-choice school assignment system (a key aspect of former HPS superintendent Dr. Steven Adamowski’s school reform agenda). The new Sheff settlement is now linking magnet school best practices directly to the development of a neighborhood “lighthouse” school.
The innovative, 2-way school integration remedy has also portrayed the Hartford region in a positive light nationally, with widespread attention in the media and in schools of education across the country. Hartford has become a go-to destination for school administrators and government education officials from other states who want advice on how to design successful integration programs.