High Quality Instruction
In our pursuit to provide high quality instruction for all, we have invested in recruiting and retaining top quality educators who inspire bold thinking, recognize student potential, and encourage all students to work towards their goals. To support the strengths and interests of students, we are providing new experiences and expanding choice programs. For example, every seventh-grade student in our district participated in a coding and robotics experience offered by Holyoke Codes during the last school year. The dual language two-way immersion program that promotes grade-level academic achievement, bilingualism, biliteracy, and multicultural competence has been expanded to include second grade students at Metcalf and a new preschool class at E.N. White School. Free preschool programs are now available in most of our neighborhood schools and boast family-friendly scheduling options. Nearly 100 students in grades 6 and 7 selected to enroll in P3 (the Personalized Pathways Program) at Peck. The program puts students in charge of their learning and empowers teachers to customize instruction to meet students’ individual needs and interests.
We have redesigned and expanded the school day to 7.5 hours per day, on average, providing students in kindergarten through eighth grade with significant extra learning time. When done well, expanded learning time raises achievement, enriches education, and empowers teachers. This additional time allows for high-quality core instruction, tiered supports for students, and opportunities for students to explore their interests in the arts, sports, sciences, and local and world cultures. We deeply appreciate our staff and community partners, for providing a wide array of opportunities that are free to our students and help prepare them for success in college and careers.
Last year we launched our first Acceleration Academy, an intensive learning experience for 200 students in fourth through sixth grade. The academy accelerated students’ math learning while also providing a model of improved instruction and engagement strategies for HPS educators supported by UMass’ College of Education.
Data and Accountability
Recently released assessment and accountability results for our district reflect our efforts. We saw improvements in English language arts and math: Equated proficiency scores improved by 7 and 5 percentage points respectively, and student growth improved 5 and 2 percentage points respectively. Six of the nine schools that receive accountability data improved their statewide percentile ranking from 2015. Morgan and McMahon saw the greatest increase, with their percentiles climbing 12 points and 8 points, respectively. Also, Sullivan School, currently a Level 2 school, moved from the 27th percentile last year to the 31st this year.
While this progress is encouraging, tremendous work remains to improve and accelerate learning outcomes for all students. We will continue to implement efforts to move the district forward by working towards designing a unique pathway for every student characterized by powerful teaching and learning. We applaud our students and teachers for their efforts. We are proud of their continued dedication to building a culture of academic excellence and look forward to building on our progress.