Press Release: Holyoke Sees Early Success with personalized learning – District expands enrollment for P3 program

Press Release: Holyoke Sees Early Success with personalized learning – District expands enrollment for P3 program

For Immediate Release – Holyoke, Massachusetts – On the bottom floor of sprawling William R. Peck Full Service Community School in Holyoke a new way of learning has taken hold.


A peek inside Ashley Kulik’s sixth-grade math classroom reveals students quietly absorbed in front of Google Chromebook laptops, most with headphones on while a few others raise their hands waiting for Kulik to make her way to their triangular-shaped desks.


“Not one of my students are doing the same thing right now,” said Kulik. “Some are taking tests, others are catching up on the previous lesson, and some have skipped ahead to the next lesson.  Students who excel can move ahead and those who are struggling with a particular segment can take more time to learn the lesson at their pace.”


Welcome to P3 (Personalized Pathways Program), an innovative pilot program for nearly 100 sixth and seventh graders that began in September. Offered to Holyoke students by lottery for the 2016-2017 school year, P3 has seen more gains in its first year than other middle school grades in the city.


Peck’s P3 students out-performed other middle school students in the city and in the nation on formative assessment tests from beginning to middle of the year –many by 10 points higher than the national target.


“The engagement we have seen, ownership and agency students have over their learning is unparalleled in Holyoke,” said Stephen Zrike, Holyoke Public Schools Receiver and Superintendent. He added that he is opening the program to nearly all Peck middle school students, with a limited number of slots for students from across the district, next year.


P3 is offered through a partnership with OurSchools, a Massachusetts non-profit organization. The program’s launch has also been supported by Massachusetts foundations, including the Amelia Peabody Foundation, the Nellie Mae Foundation and Center for Collaborative Education.  The program uses the Summit Learning Platform, a personalized learning approach being adopted across the country with support from multiple foundations, including the Dell Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.


“I like P3 better. Last year, in my old classroom I used to have to wait for teachers to finish teaching other kids,” said 12-year-old Shyanne Hall, a sixth grader. “Now I can move ahead when I’m ready.”


While online learning is not new, according to Google some 70 million teachers and students use some kind of Google software and other programming to teach.  Summit’s P3 model stands out because of its personalized platform (PLP).


The PLP platform breaks lessons into segments or modules, while simultaneously tracking student progress in real time. Each segment can include video-based instruction, project-based learning with PowerPoint presentation design, gamification exercises and more.


“I know in real time where kids are in their understanding of what I am teaching instead of having to wait until I complete a unit to know when someone is struggling,” said English teacher Jordan Baillargeon.


Students and all of their teachers can access the PLP and track progress in all of their academic areas. Such connectivity creates collaboration among the teaching team allowing teachers to pinpoint challenges and problem-solve together with the student and their families who also have access to the information, P3 teachers said.


While the end goal of the program is to promote student independence and self-direction, healthy learning habits are further instilled through weekly mentoring appointments where students meet with their assigned mentor teacher.


“I feel I am part of a team, instead of just operating my lesson plan on my own,” said Baillargeon. “When I am mentoring we are checking in on goals and providing tips for improved studying… At the beginning of the year, I did all the talking; now the students are telling me their plans.”


P3 students have shared that the way they are learning, the tools they are exposed to, and the additional supports received from their teachers make school fun.  Eleven-year old Joseph Albino, who was recently awarded the Rising Star distinction for academic achievement, can’t wait to discuss what he’s learned about Dynastic China and the video game he designed tracking Odysseus in a unit on Greek mythology in History class.  “We got to play games to understand how to make one, and then we could try ours, and have other kids in the class play it,” he said, his face breaking into a wide smile.  “P3 is a better way of learning,” he said.


Indeed, Zrike said early statistics show student attendance at P3 is higher than attendance of other middle school students in the district, an indication of students’ engagement. A recent survey showed only 22 percent of students in the district are quite or extremely excited about what they are learning.


“We need to be bold in our approach to innovation,” he said. “P3 is an example of HPS willing to try new things in education that will have a lasting impact as we work to transform our schools for students, teachers, and families. It is exciting and necessary work to look at new ways to motivate young learners.”


The P3 Program will be holding an Open House on Thursday, June 22nd from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM to provide classroom tours, program applications and information.  The William R. Peck Full Service Community School is located at 1916 Northampton Street, Holyoke, MA.  If interested in visiting the P3 Program for a tour on another date, please contact P3 Program Director Tom Pandiscio at




Additional Information:


P3 information, applications, video:


Video coverage of the P3 Program at the Holyoke Public Schools:



June 13, 2017


Judy Taylor, Communications Director

(413) 493-1605,


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