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.