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NL's opportunity

Published January 27. 2013 4:00AM

How can New London not get excited about the possibility that educational pioneer Joseph S. Renzulli will replicate his innovative program for gifted and talented students in the city's school system?

As outlined in today's front-page article by Staff Writer Julianne Hanckel, Mr. Renzulli, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, has produced impressive results at the Renzulli Academy in Hartford. The program is technology rich, with each student utilizing a laptop computer, with the intent of preparing students for the constantly changing digital world they will work in.

The curriculum is challenging, classes longer, scheduling innovative.

Focused on fourth- through ninth-grade students, the academy mixes pupils who have demonstrated academic achievement with high Connecticut Mastery Test scores with children identified by teachers as having high potential to flourish if immersed in the right educational environment.

Aided by a $500,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Mr. Renzulli is planning to replicate his model in three other urban districts, and the city is in the running.

Along with its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and visual and performing arts magnet programs, and its expanding learning time opportunities for students, New London schools are poised for transformational change.

Many of New London's third- and fourth-graders performed exceedingly well on last year's mastery tests. But Steven Adamowski, the special master appointed by the state to assist the city's struggling public schools, notes achievement lags as students progress through the system.

Mr. Renzulli's program, which he would like to focus on middle school, could provide a vital bridge for these gifted students to continue their intellectual growth.

If chosen, the city must commit to sustaining the program. The mayor, City Council and Board of Education will need to strongly affirm that New London will do so.

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