Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions about our environmental science and technology-focused high school

environmental sciences magnet

What is Connecticut River Academy (CTRA)?

Connecticut River Academy is a magnet high school serving Connecticut students grades 9 through 12. CTRA is located on the Goodwin College campus in East Hartford and is operated by LEARN. LEARN is one of six Regional Education Service Centers (RESC) established by the State of Connecticut under legislative mandate to provide more diverse, high-quality, cost effective educational opportunities to students in Connecticut.

At CTRA, we work together to find ways of contributing to a just and sustainable world by striving to consistently live our core values of AWARENESS, DIVERSITY, and ACTION. These values are made explicit throughout our curriculum in the form of our magnet standards, which are the driving force behind all of our learning — both formal and informal. At CTRA, we are fortunate to have a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that brings our sustainability theme to life through early college, environmental science, and advanced manufacturing programs.

In addition to a full range of high school courses, students in grades 11 and 12 are also afforded the opportunity to earn up to 35 transferable college credits through our early college model. Our students get a head start on their college career while still in high school, all at no tuition cost to families.

What are the benefits of attending a magnet school?

As a magnet school, Connecticut River Academy offers several benefits including:

  • Academic success that prepares students for a lifetime of academic achievement
  • Diverse student body that encourages respect, empathy, and collaboration
  • Family and community involvement that instills a passion for learning and growth
  • Flexible and innovative curriculum centered around a unifying theme

What is the difference between a magnet school and a charter school?

Both magnet schools and charter schools are schools of choice, meaning that families choose to apply to have their student attend these schools. They are both considered public schools and both receive a portion of their funding from the State of Connecticut.

Magnet schools are public schools that traditionally focus on a particular theme including the arts, math and technology, and environmental science. The goal of a magnet school is to enroll a racially diverse student body. Some magnet schools are set up by single districts and only enroll students from that town/city, while others are set up by regional educational school centers (RESCs) and serve a variety of towns.

Application into Goodwin College Magnet Schools is conducted through a lottery process managed by the State of Connecticut Regional School Choice Office. Many magnet schools, including ours, have diversification requirements and are monitored closely by the State RSCO office.

Charter schools operate under a different set of rules and regulations that vary by state. In Connecticut, charter schools receive public funds, but function as autonomous public schools. The rules, structure, and charter authorization for charter schools in Connecticut are established and monitored by the state Department of Education. The state must approve the school’s “charter” in which it lays out its missions, achievement goals, and methods of teaching and assessment. Charter schools can be managed and/or funded by a variety of institutions. Admission standards vary from school to school, and most charter schools manage their own enrollment process and lottery.

What types of courses do you offer?

CTRA immerses students in studies based on our sustainability theme starting in grade 9, with offerings in environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, sociology, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and other advanced science courses, at both the high school and college levels.

While CTRA incorporates a strong science focus into its curriculum, it is a comprehensive high school, offering the full range of courses in English, social studies, mathematics, and world language, as well as the arts, physical education, and health. The courses at CTRA are designed with students at the center of the action and with the purpose of providing all students competence and confidence to be successful in college, career, and beyond.

Why is CTRA called an "early college high school"?

Students who attend CTRA have a unique opportunity to take college courses while still in high school. Our scholars have direct access to the same facilities as Goodwin College students. Beginning in grade 11, our students have the ability to take credit-bearing courses at Goodwin College. Students who maintain a high level of academic achievement can earn up to a year of college credit in a wide range of academic areas, including courses in environmental science, criminal justice, human services, business administration, and advanced manufacturing.

How does enrollment work?

Students interested in attending CTRA must go through a lottery process conducted by the State Department of Education’s Regional School Choice Office (RSCO). Families must submit a lottery application online during the lottery application period. The lottery application period for the 2020-2021 school year opens Friday, November 1, 2019 and closes Friday, January 31, 2020. Please visit our How to Apply page for more information on the lottery process and how to apply.

What are the school hours?

The school day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Many Fridays are half days, on those days school dismisses at 11:15 a.m.
Afterschool programs are also available, as are opportunities for advanced enrichment.

Will the college credits earned at Goodwin College be accepted by other colleges?

All Goodwin College credits earned as part of the dual enrollment program are reflected in a college transcript received at high school graduation. Generally speaking, most colleges and universities accept credits in transfer that were earned at a regionally-accredited school (Goodwin College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education), have a passing grade, are collegiate in nature, and are earned through traditional coursework. Each college or university sets its own transfer policies. It is best to contact the Admissions or Registrar’s office of the institution you are thinking of applying to in order to find out what their policies are regarding the transfer of credit. Visit here for more information:

Are there afterschool sports?

CTRA offers many afterschool activities to expand and enrich the lives of our student body, including recreational basketball, rowing, volleyball, and flag football.

Is there a dress code?

CTRA’s dress code is focused on career and college readiness. Acceptance of admission to CTRA implies agreement to abide by our school’s dress code. The dress code for CTRA requires scholars to wear school-approved shirts and pants. Our school logo must be shown at all times.

Is transportation provided?

Bus transportation is provided for all students who reside in the Greater Hartford Regional Transportation Zone. Families living
outside the Zone have the choice of transporting their child to the closest bus stop within the area or providing their own
transportation to and from school. A stipend is available to families who reside outside of the Transportation Zone and choose
to drive their student for the school year and is based upon attendance at the end of the year. For additional information, call
the RSCO Transportation line at 860.524.4077 or visit

Are special education services provided?

The responsibility for holding planning and placement team (PPT) meetings belongs to the district where the student lives.
The inter-district magnet school is responsible for ensuring that the student receives the services required by the student’s
individualized education program (IEP), whether those services are provided by the inter-district magnet school or by the
school district in which the student resides. For more information, contact the Bureau of Special Education at 860.713.6910 or