Governor Lamont and Commissioner Russell-Tucker Congratulate Four Connecticut Public Schools on Being Named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker today are congratulating four public schools in Connecticut for being named by the U.S. Department of Education as 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This prestigious award is given annually to select schools across the nation for demonstrating overall high achievement or success in closing achievement gaps.
The four schools are:
- Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton (operated by LEARN);
- Philip R. Smith School in South Windsor;
- Skinner Road School in Vernon; and
- Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford.
“Because of the amazing work of our outstanding teachers, administrators, and staff, Connecticut’s public schools are consistently rated among the best in the nation,” Governor Lamont said. “Every child deserves access to a quality education that prepares them for success throughout their careers, no matter where they live or what their family’s economic circumstances may be. Our administration remains committed to strengthening all the schools in our state and making continued improvements on closing achievement gaps. I congratulate these four schools on earning this national distinction and I wish them continued success.”
“The Connecticut State Department of Education congratulates all of the schools named Blue Ribbon Schools in 2023,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “We continue to make it our focus to highlight what’s right with schools, and our Blue Ribbon Award winners serve as an excellent example of the creative approaches being implemented to guarantee the ongoing advancement and academic achievements of our students.”
The Connecticut State Department of Education uses data from the Next Generation Accountability System to nominate schools for the National Blue Ribbon School (NBRS) award. Current recipients were nominated based on 2021-2022 accountability results. Nominated schools must complete an application process and be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. All selected schools in Connecticut were designated as Schools of Distinction. National Blue Ribbon Schools are identified in two categories: Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing and Exemplary High Performing.
Marine Science Magnet High School (Groton) – Exemplary High Performing
Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS) is a school of choice located in Groton and operated by LEARN, southeastern Connecticut's regional educational service center. More than 30 communities are represented by the 271 students enrolled in Grades 9 to 12. MSMHS demonstrates consistently strong performance based on the Next Generation Accountability System. In 2021-2022, the school earned 86.6% of all possible points across all available indicators leading to School of Distinction status for the fourth consecutive year. This success is supported by the educators of MSMHS who are adept at evaluating every incoming Grade 9 student to determine what supports will be most effective to set the students up for success. As a result, 98.5% of Grade 9 students were “on-track” to an on-time graduation at the end of 2021-2022, and the 4-year graduation rate for the same year was 100%.
MSMHS is proud of the relevance and rigor of its instructional program. Thematic programming engages students in coursework preparing them for postsecondary experiences. While MSMHS is a relatively small high school, they offer Advanced Placement and dual credit courses across all subject areas resulting in 80.8& of Grades 11 and 12 students earning three or more college credits prior to graduation based on 2021-2022 data compared to 22.3% statewide.
Philip R. Smith School (South Windsor) – Exemplary High Performing
Philip R. Smith School is a consistently high performing school serving 467 students in Grades K-5. This school earned 87.9% of all available accountability points in 2021-2022, leading to School of Distinction status in every category. While the school’s Accountability Index has been strong and stable over time, the 2021-2022 reports show the index being the highest earned since 2015-2016. The school exceeds the subject performance index targets of 75 for the all students group in all subjects. At the same time, the academic growth in English language arts and mathematics demonstrated by students with high needs exceeds the growth reported for the all students group. Students with high needs are students with disabilities, multilingual learners, and students from economically disadvantaged families. Accelerating academic growth for students with high needs is the key to narrowing achievement gaps.
The school reports in their NBRS application that their “strategy for excellence” is creating a schedule that protects the time needed to provide high quality Tier 1 instruction to all students. Through careful planning, they ensure that students who need extra support receive those services outside of the time reserved for initial instruction for all students. The teachers are able to provide this high-quality instruction because they are supported. Staff have access to instructional coaching in reading and mathematics while also benefiting from time reserved for grade-level professional learning communities (PLCs). In these PLCs, the teams review their units with embedded performance tasks to determine what they expect to see in student work and to prepare to support students who may struggle. Educators measure student success and adjust in real time for their students. Additionally, three times a year, all staff come together to review school level data and progress so as not to lose focus on whole-school success.
Skinner Road School (Vernon) – Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing
Skinner Road School serves 321 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5. More than 60% of students are students with high needs. Skinner Road is one of five elementary schools in Vernon, an Alliance District, and the second district school to be named a National Blue Ribbon School in the last five years. The school’s accountability index in 2021-2022 was 82.8, their highest ever. Since 2016-2017, they have been identified annually as a School of Distinction.
Academic growth in mathematics is particularly strong at Skinner Road School. Students with high needs, on average, met 92.7% of their mathematics growth targets. In their NBRS application, Skinner Road School highlights the fact that they dedicate two blocks of time daily to mathematics: the Math Workshop block and an additional 25-minute block for math small groups. There is direct instruction happening for part of the workshop block through a mini lesson. The lessons are designed to help students understand why they are learning particular skills. After the mini lesson, students work on applying what they have learned through independent practice. Teachers use data to form flexible groups for math small group time that allows students to receive extra support, intervention, or enrichment.
Stamford Charter School for Excellence (Stamford) – Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing
The Stamford Charter School for Excellence opened in fall 2015 and grew annually to its current Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 configuration. As a choice school, Stamford Excellence serves 561 students from throughout Stamford, more than half of which are students with high needs. The school’s overall accountability index was 81.4 in 2021-2022, and they have earned School of Distinction status for each of the three prior years of reporting. In 2021-2022 reports, the school exceeded the performance index target of 75 for all students group across all subjects. The performance index for students with high needs was similarly high in English language arts (76.4) and mathematics (73.6).
Stamford Excellence identifies their Grade Cohort Model as a distinguishing feature of their school. In the case of their daily reading block, a grade-level team of teachers and specialists are collectively responsible for the learning of all students on that grade level. A large percentage of instruction during the reading block occurs via small groups. Students are grouped flexibly among the grade level staff using ongoing real-time data. This ensures all students, from struggling readers to those who are proficient and accelerated, are provided the appropriate level of instruction and support. The Grade Cohort Model fosters intense teacher collaboration. The staff work together with the leadership team to improve the curriculum, analyze data, and address each child’s individual needs.
For more information about the National Blue Ribbons Schools Program, visit www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html.