With the first year of Holyoke Public School’s “Moving Forward” strategic plan now completed, district leaders have documented the gains achieved to date and have set new benchmarks for the 2023-24 school year that will drive strategic efforts for the second year of the plan.
“We have so much to be proud of as we gain momentum in our improvement efforts,” said Superintendent Anthony Soto. “I continue to be thankful for all the ways we have worked together to improve the lives of our students.”
Among the success from the first year of the strategic plan are the following:
The first year of the district’s early literacy initiative yielded meaningful growth outcomes. The percentage of PreK-2 students below grade level achieving accelerated growth in the early literacy STAR assessment increased from 27% in 2022 to 36% in 2023.
Nearly 20% of PreK-8 students (700 students) are enrolled in the dual language program, which is now expanding to the high school. Eight students graduated last year with a Seal of Biliteracy.
The City Council and Massachusetts School Building Authority approved funding to build a new middle school for 550 students, expected to open in late 2025.
Holyoke Public Schools continues to recruit and retain teachers of color, with an 18-point increase in the percentage of teachers of color, from 13% in 2015 to 31% in 2023.
“When we released the strategic plan in summer 2022, we promised to reflect on our progress and share an annual report with the School Committee, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the broader community,” Superintendent Soto said. “Our reflection process included data analysis, planning retreats, a survey, focus groups, and stakeholder feedback sessions. We have updated the strategic plan to include an additional strategy under Learning Experiences that calls for creating data systems to support instruction and monitor student progress. This document also reports our progress towards achieving our 2022-23 benchmarks and details the 2023-24 benchmarks that we aim to accomplish.”
The district’s strategic plan is in full alignment with the HPS turnaround plan that was issued in 2015 and then renewed in 2018 and 2022.