The Academy, at 121 Cornwall Street, selects most of its prospective students based on their scores on the standardized NWEA-MAP assessments (Northwest Evaluation Association/Measures of Academic Progress), which determine a student’s proficiency in reading, math and language usage.
In order to receive an invitation, a student’s scores must be in the top 15 percent citywide in all three categories. The tests are administered to all students from third grade up. A review of the test data showed that every school in Hartford had at least one student in the top 15 percent.
“The Renzulli Academy is a place where students can be themselves, where high expectations are continually surpassed and excelling in academics is the culture,” said the school’s principal, Dr. Ruth Lyons. “We nurture the scholastic talent of our students, but also focus on their social and emotional needs. In addressing our students for who they are, they continue to reach higher academic success.”
The academy is named after Dr. Joseph Renzulli, director of the University of Connecticut’s Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, who, along with the center’s principal researcher, Dr. Sally M. Reis, provided much of the expertise needed to launch the school in 2009.
“The mission of our academy is to prepare students for application to competitive four year colleges and universities and the best way to accomplish this goal is to provide a curriculum that focuses on creativity and thinking skills as well as high academic achievement,” Dr. Renzulli said.
The invitation to apply is only the first step in the process of enrolling at the Renzulli Academy. The district follows up the application with a thorough examination of the prospective student’s grades, attendance and discipline record. Recommendations from each candidate’s classroom teachers are also required.
In addition, the student candidate must demonstrate advanced levels of knowledge, outstanding communications skills, creativity, curiosity and resourcefulness in solving problems. In short, the student must be highly motivated to excel.
Not surprisingly, the Renzulli Academy typically records the highest student test scores in the district and consistently has a state School Performance Index (SPI) of 91 or above. This year, the state Department of Education recognized Renzulli as a Connecticut School of Distinction, the only Hartford public school to be so honored.
The academy has been recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Connecticut Association for the Gifted for its work in helping high-ability students reach their full potential and, this year, it is being replicated in Bridgeport, New London and Brooklyn, under a $500,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Parents of the selected students are encouraged to visit Renzulli during one of its four upcoming open houses on Feb. 21, at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; and on Feb. 26, at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.