By Steven Goode
BLOOMFIELD — Local students have made significant strides on state standardized tests over the past few years, allowing the school system to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students.
The town’s mostly minority student population has struggled for many years, scoring near the bottom statewide on test scores, along with cities such as Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
The improvement in scores has been noticed, marked by visits last year from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and former Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. The town’s gains have also been mentioned in several books by educational leadership expert Larry Ainsworth, who dedicated a chapter to the schools in a book related to rigorous curriculum design.
ConnCAN, an education reform advocacy group, has also noted Bloomfield’s improvements and this year sponsored a school assembly recognizing Carmen Arace Middle School and Carmen Arace Intermediate School as “Success Schools.”
Most recently the Connecticut Council for Education Reform highlighted how the school system got to where it is today in a special report titled “The Bloomfield Blueprint for Closing the Achievement Gap.”
Superintendent James Thompson, who began work in April 2011, said the recognition of the students’ hard work is important because it “validates that we are moving in the right direction.”
Thompson, who noted that the high school is no longer among the worst performing in the state, said that teachers and administrators deserve much of the credit.
“What it comes down to is the successful implementation of the holistic accountability plan,” Thompson said, referring to one of the schools four major priorities. The others are related to curriculum, positive school climate and parent and community engagement.
Jeffrey Villar executive director of the Connecticut Council, said his organization was interested in taking an in-depth look at Bloomfield schools because of the marked gains, which he said can be tied to an alignment of goals between the board of education and administration as well as data-based decision-making.
“They’re clearly making a positive impact on kids,” Villar said.
In 2015 the Global Experience Magnet School was also recognized as a school of distinction by Magnet Schools of America
Individuals have also been singled out for recognition. Carmen Arace Intermediate School Principal Tracy Youngberg was named the state’s distinguished principal by the Connecticut Association of Schools in 2013, and Metacomet School Principal Desi Naismith was awarded a Milken Foundation award in 2014.
The full report by the Connecticut Council can be found at http://ctedreform.org.
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