BRISTOL – Hubbell Elementary School has been named one of 124 Schools of Distinctions by the State Department of Education.
Hubbell was one of the schools chosen for being in the top 10 percent of schools showing academic growth for high needs students in the 2016-17 school year.
Other schools were chosen for showing high academic growth for all students, or for high overall performance. Performance was based on how well the schools met the 12 indicators for the Connecticut Next Generation Accountability System, which are meant to show how a school is preparing students for success in college, careers, and life.
Hubbell Principal Rochelle Schwartz said her school does have a percentage of high needs students.
For example, the school qualifies for free lunch and breakfast for 100 percent of its students regardless of family income, under the federal Community Eligibility program which reimburses the cost when at least 40 percent of students are deemed eligible through the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
Besides poverty, “high needs” also includes students in special education and English language learners. There is some overlap among those groups but they all get put in the same basket, Schwartz said.
The state is concerned about closing the achievement gap between these students and the rest of the student body, she explained.
The 12 indicators are:
1. Academic achievement status measured by state assessments.
2. Academic growth.
3. Assessment participation rate.
4. Chronic absenteeism.
5. Preparation for postsecondary and career readiness – coursework.
6. Preparation for postsecondary and career readiness – exams.
7. Graduation – on track in ninth grade.
8. Graduation – four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate – all students.
9. Graduation – six-year adjusted cohort graduation rate – high needs.
10. Postsecondary entrance rate – all students (college enrollment).
11. Physical fitness.
12. Arts access.
Schwartz said the state ranks a school by how all its students are on all the indicators for its grade levels, and then again by how its high needs students fare on numbers one, two and four.
“So that way we’re really clear how we’re doing with both groups of students,” she said. “When you break our data down, while we show impressive growth with all students we also show impressive growth with our high needs students.”
It’s very gratifying, she added. “Whatever metric they are using, and I can imagine it must be a very complicated mathematic metric to do this whole 12 indicators system, they are going kid by kid and comparing that across the whole and we show impressive growth.”
The growth is actually measured over two years as students move from grades three to four and then again from grades four to five, as charted by how students do on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, she said.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment, often referred to as the SBAC, is an online test given to Connecticut students in grades three through eight each spring to measure student achievement and growth in English language arts and mathematics.
Schwartz said last year she was able to get the individual student scores back a few days before the end of the school year, although the data showing overall growth didn’t come in till later.
“I can’t speak to what the other Bristol schools did, but at least in my school I was able to meet with my teachers in grades three, four, and five, on how the students in front of them did. I wasn’t able to meet with my grades four and five teachers this year on the growth data until December or January,” she said.
“The growth data for us is very important and it is very gratifying,” she added. “It speaks to effort, it speaks to instruction along the way, as opposed to just the academic score the students got the day they took the test.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.