My daughter is an eighth grader at CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies in Bloomfield. I am writing in response to the article by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas entitled, “School choice: Future of new magnet schools uncertain,” published by The Connecticut Mirror on Jan. 7.

In the article, Thomas cites a UConn report and 2013 data from the Connecticut State Department of Education, both of which indicate that magnet school students are outperforming their peers at traditional schools. I want to take this opportunity to share my daughter’s success story.

My daughter started as a preschool student in a Hartford Head Start program. There, she received an early education that prepared her for kindergarten. During kindergarten and first grade, she attended a public elementary school in West Hartford.

By the first grade, it was apparent that she was having academic challenges. Unfortunately, the school was not meeting her academic needs, and we made the decision to move to Windsor. Windsor Public Schools did the best it could to meet my daughter’s academic needs while she was in grades two through five by providing all of the academic services it could, but my daughter continued to academically stay below her grade level. As a result, we decided to enroll our daughter in the magnet school lottery.

We were very lucky that she was accepted to the Metropolitan Learning Center in the sixth grade. Upon entering the school, my daughter was immediately assessed and provided with all of the academic support and services she needed. The goal was to help her improve in the academic areas where she struggled and to teach her different skills and techniques that she could use to succeed.

During her first year at the magnet school, teachers, support staff, and administrators worked hard to give my daughter all of the supports she needed to transition from elementary school to middle school.

My husband and I are active parents, and the Metropolitan Learning Center has encouraged us to form an open line of communication with teachers and administrators.  Together, we have become a team–providing our daughter the opportunity to work hard and feel great about her improvements. In the two years that she has been at the Metropolitan Learning Center, our daughter has, for the first time, met her academic goals and is no longer below her grade level.

My daughter has had the opportunity to learn more Spanish and to learn about international issues and current events, while also pursuing her newfound interest in soccer. She is a member of the school’s Dragons girls’ soccer team. We have seen how much our daughter has been able to improve in academic areas where she used to struggle,  and we have seen her grow into a mature young lady who is so much more confident and who looks forward to going to school every day.

Our daughter’s success story has encouraged us to enter the lottery for our 3-year-old daughter with the hopes of her getting into a magnet preschool. We know that she has a better chance of getting the appropriate early education that will allow her the opportunity to be academically successful at a magnet school.

I know my daughter is not the only magnet school student with such a story. In fact, I was pleased to find out from our magnet school provider that each year since 2009, CREC magnet school students have outperformed the statewide average for students scoring at or above proficient in mathematics on the Connecticut Mastery Test, and each year since 2007, students attending CREC magnet schools have outperformed the statewide average for students scoring at or above proficient and at or above goal in reading.

CREC magnet schools are also closing the achievement gap. In 2013, the achievement gap in the percent of students scoring at proficiency at CREC schools was nearly 10 percentage points lower than the statewide gap. In fact, in 2012, Hispanic students at CREC performed better in reading by grade five than their white peers, effectively eliminating the achievement gap.

My husband and I feel very fortunate to have such a positive story to share about our daughter’s education. We must continue to support magnet schools and the educational opportunities they provide students like our daughter.

Maria Jefferson, of Windsor, is a parent of a student at the CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies.

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