Making progress

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Some schools make the grade, others still have work to do

Naugatuck High School made safe harbor this year under No Child Left Behind. Hop Brook Elementary School in Naugatuck and Long River Middle School in Prospect made enough progress to get off the “in need of improvement" list.

After the results of this year’s standardized tests were assessed under No Child Left Behind, two local schools had made enough progress to satisfy the federal act while four others lagged behind.

Region 16’s Long River Middle School and Naugatuck’s Hop Brook Elementary School reached safe harbor status this year.

The state compares the results of the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) to the previous year’s scores to measure whether schools and district made Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind.

To make safe harbor a school or district must meet certain criteria, including reducing the number of students at the basic and below basic levels on the tests by 10 percent. This year was the second consecutive year Long River and Hop Brook reached safe harbor, meaning they were removed from the “in need of improvement” list.

“I’m very proud of our staff for the work that they’ve done. I’m very proud,” Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agostine said.

Long River was on the list due to the scores of special education and economically disadvantaged students. School officials credited the success of the school to a team-teaching approach and a collaborative effort by staff.

Long River Principal Jayne Lanphear pointed to co-teaching in language arts and reading as paramount to the school getting off the list.

“I really believe that was one of the keys to the success,” Lanphear said.

Hop Brook was first labeled as “in need of improvement” in the 2008-09 school year because of reading scores. The school made safe harbor the past two years and are no longer saddled with that label.

Hop Brook Principal Brian Hendrickson said there were several factors to the school’s achievement, including intervention programs and the children’s parents. But, he primarily credited the success to the Naugatuck school district’s “vision and game plan,” and teamwork from the district’s entire faculty, administration.

“The success we have at this school is a footnote for the success that Naugatuck is having,” Hendrickson said.

Now that the schools have made safe harbor and are off the list, they will have to meet higher goals next year to stay that way.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do,” said Lanphear about getting off the list.

She said the special education population will now have to meet the same goals as regular education students.

It will be a challenge officials admitted, however Agostine was positive the school would meet tackle the challenge.

“We are going to do it. I have confidence,” he said.

Hendrickson said the school and district will continue working the same way it has been.

“We have to make sure we give kids the help they need when they need it and that’s now,” Hendrickson said.

Long River had been the only blemish for Region 16 as far as No Child Left Behind was concerned. With the school off the list, there are no longer any stains for the district under the act.

“We’re clear sailing,” Agostine said.

For Naugatuck, the district has a whole along with Hillside Intermediate School and Naugatuck High School made enough progress this year to make safe harbor status. However, five schools-Central Avenue, City Hill, Cross Street Maple Hill and Salem, remained “in need of improvement.”

Under No Child Left Behind, there are various mandated sanctions that are placed on schools depending on how long they’ve been designated as “in need of improvement.”

For this year, Naugatuck Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino explained Central Avenue School had to offer school choice to its parents. Parents were given the option to send their children to Hop Brook, Western, or Andrew Avenue, she said. A little less than 20 parents chose this option, she said.

Central and Hillside schools also had to offer supplementary educational services, a tutoring program with independent state approved providers, to low income students, Crispino said.

The money for the programs and transporting Central Avenue students to different schools came from Title I funds she said.

“Each of the schools is in the process of developing a school improvement plan,” Crispino said.

Crispino explained the schools and district will evaluate data to find what areas need to be targeted. As part of the improvement plan, she said, structured and peer intervention programs will be put in place to raise achievement.

“Our schools are working very hard to reduce the number of students that are at the basic and below basic levels,” Crispino said. “Our goal is for everyone to achieve at the highest level that they can.”