District studies achievement gap 

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By Kim Becker
​In  response  to  a  Board  of  Education  query  earlier  this  calendar  year,  district  administrators  presented raw  data  relating  to  the  systems  achievement  gap. The  data  focused  on  problem  areas  for  students  with special  needs  and  those  from  the  Open  Choice  program  and  Hartland  in  FY  2012-FY2015.  As  is  true across  the  state  and  the  nation,  the  most  radical  differences  between  groups  are  seen  when  comparing regular  education  students  to  either  students  with  special  needs  or  students  from  a  city,  in  this  case Hartford.

There  are  several  red   flags   highlighting  the  achievement   gap  in  Granby,   including  attendance, discipline, and participation in honors and AP classes in high school. Administrators chose not to include data  on  final  grades  or  GPA,  instead  focusing  on  standardized  test  scores.  While  students  with  special needs  and  those  from  Open  Choice  showed  slight  improvement  in  taking  the  PSAT  and  SAT  in  high school, scores from other assessments, such as Star Math and Reading, revealed large gaps in the younger grades. For example, across all four grades at the intermediate level, the data range for math achievement showed a 6-56 percent gap between those in special education versus Granby regular education students; for Open Choice students, the gap ranges from 30-91 percent. Even  when the bar is set  fairly  low, these  groups fare worse than their regular education  counterparts. For example, the high school data showed that approximately 25 percent of students in special education took an  Honors class compared to  nearly 90 percent  of the regular education students.  An Honors class was  defined  as  any  type  of  Honors  class  that  appeared  on  a  student’s  transcript  regardless  of  the  grade received.

To begin addressing the achievement gap, each building principal chose one achievement area for his or her school to focus  on, ranging  from  writing to attendance.  Additionally, a consultant  has been  hired to work with the principals on their school goals. The  board  appeared  concerned  by  the  overall  message  of  the presentation  and  encouraged  the administration  to  push  forward  in  its  efforts  assist  Open  Choice  and  Special  Education  students,  and  to continue to develop digestible data to monitor progress.

Granby  high  school  is  gearing  up  for  The  New  England  Association  of Schools  and  College’s accreditation process, which takes place  every 10 years. Representatives from the  organization  will  visit the  district  in  2018.  However,  much  work  needs  to  be  done  in  advance.  With  the emphasis  on  21st Century skills and changing curriculum standards, the district is undergoing a  mandatory self-study and curriculum writing process. The board was asked not only to participate in the self-study, but also to add stipends to the FY2016 budget for teachers and staff participating in the process The school calendar may document 601/18 also reflect the need for additional time for the district to work on the various accreditation components in the form of more early release days.

The board also reviewed and approved four policies that need updating to reflect State legislation. The policies are attendance, truancy, administering medication, and student health services. Superintendent’s evaluation and goals Superintendent of Granby Public Schools Alan Addley received high marks on his annual evaluation by the  board.  With  an  overall  score  of  4.8  out  of  5  and  no  deficiencies,  the  board  was  overwhelmingly supportive of Addley’s performance.

​Addley  also  reviewed  his  annual  goals,  particularly  as  related  to  the  board’s  goals.  These  goals  are  in the  areas  of  student  achievement,  professional  leadership,  Board and  community  relations,  educational leadership, and business matters. The board was satisfied that Addley’s goals meshed with the educational direction of the district.