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10/01/2018

Gov. Malloy Announces Four Connecticut Public Schools Earn 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Distinction

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has named four Connecticut public schools as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools – an annual award bestowed on schools across the nation for high academic performance or greatest progress in achievement gap closure among subgroups.

The four Connecticut public schools awarded this year are:

  • University of Hartford Magnet School, a CREC school;
  • Forest School in West Haven;
  • West School in New Canaan; and
  • Haddam-Killingworth High School in Regional School District 17.

“Every student from every background and every walk of life deserves a quality education that allows them to succeed,” Governor Malloy said.  “With exemplary schools like this year’s Blue Ribbon award winners, it’s no wonder that we have record-high graduation rates and students who are among the best in the nation.  We congratulate these schools and their teachers, students, and families for their collective efforts to nurture positive school communities – they are all helping to shift the growing possibilities for our next generation in a positive direction.”

“We are excited to celebrate four Connecticut schools that are transforming the futures of students by delivering a top-quality education in the classroom,” Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell said.  “Congratulations to our Blue Ribbon Schools on the collective effort and hard work by students, parents, educators and community partners to earn this prestigious honor.”

The Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) uses data from the Next Generation Accountability System to nominate schools for the National Blue Ribbon School award.  Nominated schools must complete an application process and be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.  All selected schools in Connecticut demonstrated outstanding overall achievement in 2016-17 and were identified as Schools of Distinction.  National Blue Ribbon Schools are identified in two categories – Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing and Exemplary High Performing.

Forest School (West Haven)

Forest School located in West Haven enrolls students in Grades PK-4.  As a school in an Alliance District, the majority of students (76 percent) are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Additionally, 23 percent of students at Forest School are English learners with over 16 different languages spoken at home.  Forest prides itself on its model of layered shared leadership designed to support teachers to ensure learning for their diverse student body.  The instructional team at Forest includes a mathematics coach and reading consultant as well as a special education team and an English learner team.  Collectively, and with strong district support and coordination, these educators work closely with classroom teachers, providing model lessons, research-based instructional strategies, and other key resources to realize their foundational principle that “all students can succeed.”  Forest is a school demonstrating success in terms of strong academic growth in mathematics and ELA for high needs students, leading to its nomination as an Exemplary Gap Closing school.

Haddam-Killingworth High School (Higganum)

Haddam-Killingworth High School is identified as an Exemplary High Performing school based on its 2016-17 accountability index.  Included in the accountability index is the four-year graduation rate for all students (95.2 percent) and the six-year graduation rate for high needs students (100 percent), both exceeding state targets.  In their Blue Ribbon School application, the school administration expressed that they are most proud of their success in personalizing the student experience.  They offer a wide range of “traditional” courses, a variety of online learning opportunities, an internship program where students earn credit through experiential learning within the community, and they have developed a system to support students who are interested in pursuing highly unique learning opportunities not found in a typical course of studies.  HKHS has established a goal that all students graduate having completed a college and/or career experience.  To this end, they expanded course offerings as well as added a transition coordinator.  The 2016-17 accountability report shows that 84.8 percent of students in Grades 11 and 12 have taken at least two courses specifically designed to prepare students for college and/or career (Indicator 5), again surpassing the state target of 75 percent.

University of Hartford Magnet School (West Hartford)

The University of Hartford Magnet School (UHMS) is operated by the Capitol Region Education Council.  The school serves Grades PK-5 students from more than 30 Connecticut towns.  The school’s theme is “Learning through Multiple Intelligences.”  The curriculum is built on inquiry and problem solving and focuses on relationships that exist across all disciplines.  The school’s location and partnership with the University of Hartford and the Hartt School provide students opportunities not typically available in elementary school.  For two consecutive years, UHMS students demonstrated very strong growth in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.  In particular, it was the sustained growth of high needs students (English learners, students with disabilities, and economically-disadvantaged students) that prompted the Blue Ribbon nomination in the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing category.

West School (New Canaan)

Based on 2016-17 accountability reports, West School in New Canaan, a PK-4 school, earned 97.5 percent of all possible points across indicators.  This accountability index was the highest of all Schools of Distinction.  Therefore, West School was nominated for the Blue Ribbon award in the Exemplary High Performing category.  The school administration identifies collaboration as a key factor driving the school’s success.  There are strategic efforts to encourage collaboration and teamwork across staff, keeping the needs of students at the center of every conversation.  One example of this is the school’s Universal Screening Team (UST) at each grade level.  The UST convenes at the close of each trimester to ensure that instruction is meeting the needs of all students by providing the appropriate level of ongoing challenge and support.  Collaboration extends to families who are engaged in a strong and active Parent Teacher Council, sponsoring a variety of school community events such as One Book West, Family Math Night, and Kids Care.

For more information about the program, please visit the USED’s National Blue Ribbon Schools Program webpage.
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Peter Yazbak
Communications Director
860-713-6528