HARTFORD, CT - Governor Ned Lamont last week announced that the U.S. Department of Education is recognizing four Connecticut public schools as 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, an annual award given to select schools across the nation for demonstrating overall high achievement or success in closing achievement gaps. The schools include:
· North Mianus Elementary School in Greenwich;
· Guilford High School in Guilford;
· John Barry Elementary School in Meriden; and
· Tracey Magnet School in Norwalk.
“The success we are seeing at these schools must be credited to the exemplary teachers who are preparing our students for achievements throughout their careers,” Governor Lamont said. “The ability to attract businesses and encourage them to expand and grow in our state is directly connected to the strength of our workforce and the quality training they receive, which is why it is critical that we provide the youngest in our communities with the tools needed to compete in today’s 21st century economy. Our administration remains committed to strengthening all of the schools in our state so that every child – no matter their neighborhood or family income level – has an opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for achievement.”
“Congratulations to our Blue Ribbon Schools,” State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said. “Everyone who played a role in this accomplishment deserves to be celebrated – students, parents, educators, and community partners. This is a prestigious honor and serves as further evidence that collectively focusing on student achievement, a strong core curriculum, and a high-quality learning environment creates opportunities for all children to thrive and succeed regardless of zip code.”
The Connecticut State Department of Education uses data from the Next Generation Accountability System to nominate schools for the award. Nominated schools must complete an application process and be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. All selected schools in Connecticut were Schools of Distinction in 2017-18. National Blue Ribbon Schools are identified in two categories, Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing and Exemplary High Performing.
North Mianus Elementary School (Greenwich)
The 2015-2020 strategic plan for Greenwich Public Schools features personalized learning as a cornerstone. The administration of North Mianus Elementary School identified personalized learning, which allows teachers to meet the learning needs of all students, as a key to their success in achieving overall Exemplary High Performing School status. North Mianus Elementary serves nearly 500 students in Grades K-5. Educators have successfully maintained high performance for all students while simultaneously improving the performance of students with high needs. The teachers have been successful by carefully assessing where students are before beginning a new unit. The short customized assessments measure standards from earlier grades and later grades to identify what skills may need to be reviewed and when a student is ready to move beyond the unit. Teachers have developed “playlists” that provide students with instructions, videos, tasks, resources for research, articles, and other materials relevant to mastering the standards and learning targets. Through the use of playlists, educators are leveraging technology to personalize fully the learning path for students.
Guilford High School (Guilford)
Guilford High School with an enrollment of 1,095 students is identified as an Exemplary High Performing school based on its 2017-18 accountability index (90.3). Included in the accountability index is the percentage of students “on-track” to graduation at the end of ninth grade (96.8 percent), the four-year graduation rate for all students (99.2 percent), and the percentage of students entering two- and four-year post-secondary institutions in the year following graduation (83.1 percent), all exceeding state targets. In their Blue Ribbon School application, the school administration shared the wide range of courses available to students including many UConn Early College Experience (ECE) courses, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate (IB) offerings. They are proud of the sequence of elective courses in the world language department where the curriculum is “proficiency-focused and performance-based.” Nearly 80 percent of students choose to take these courses. The school also offers a robust selection of visual and performing arts courses. The 2017-18 accountability reports showed nearly 70 percent of students enrolled in at least one arts course, again exceeding the state target of 60 percent.
John Barry Elementary School (Meriden)
The students, educators, and families of John Barry Elementary School have worked tirelessly and strategically over the last six years to transform their school from Turnaround School status to an Exemplary Gap Closing National Blue Ribbon School. John Barry Elementary School enrolls 515 students in Grades K-5, with nearly 90 percent of students from economically-disadvantaged families. The school has continuously reduced chronic absenteeism rates and suspensions while improving relationships with families as evidenced by 94 percent of parents responding to school climate questionnaires and nearly 100 percent attendance at school conferences. These conditions create a solid foundation for learning, and students at John Barry Elementary have excelled. In 2017-18, academic growth in ELA and mathematics for students with high needs was among the top 10 percent statewide.
Tracey Magnet School (Norwalk)
Tracey Magnet School serves 415 students in Grades K-5. Approximately 70 percent of the students are from economically-disadvantaged families and 28.9 percent of the students are English learners. The Tracey community has established a set of core values that places a priority on “ethical and performance” values. They refer to these with a memorable acronym—PRINT, which represents problem solving, respect, integrity, neighborly, and take responsibility. The PRINT pledge is a set of high expectations for all students and teachers. These high expectations exist within a caring and supportive environment that acknowledges everyone occasionally makes a bad choice, but there is always the opportunity to make better choices in the future. Tracey Magnet School is an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School based on their strong 2017-18 growth in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics for all students and students with high needs (English learners, students with disabilities, and students with economically-disadvantaged families).