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April 2017

Effort = Success

Superintendent Dr. Marty Semmel Did you hear the news? Plymouth Center School was named a School of Distinction by the State Department of Education. PCS earned this honor because their students were in the top 10% of points earned for academic growth from 2014-15 to 2015- 16 as compared to all other public schools in CT. A sincere congratulation to all involved in their efforts. In this article, I hope to give you some background information on how the State Accountability system works for all public schools and provide everyone information on how we can continue to make further improvements.

 Every public school district and public school in CT gets a report card from the State Department of Education. As part of the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), states were required to develop their own methods of holding all public schools in their state accountable. The report card created by the State of Connecticut is called the Accountability Index and is based on a number of different criteria. Schools are held accountable for overall achievement on state testing as well as the growth that every child (grades 4-8) makes from one year to the next as measured by these state assessments. Schools and districts are also held accountable for the percentage of students who are chronically absent from school. Chronically absent is defined as missing 18 or more days of a school year. Other categories include access to arts programs and physical fitness. At the high school, additional criteria is measured, such as the percentage of students taking college credit bearing course, the percentage of students passing those courses, and the percentage of students graduating in four years, just to name a few. You can find a lot more information on the State’s Accountability Index by heading to http://edsight.ct.gov/SASPortal/main.do.

 I for one appreciate an accountability plan that does not use just one high stakes test to measure the success of a child, a school or a school system. The criteria in this new report card boil down to some simple takeaways. First, effort directly influences success and “Luck” is a bi-product of hard work and persistence. We all need to make sure our students are attending school on a regular basis. We expect that all students, from the highest achieving to the most struggling, will learn each year at a high level. We also expect that our students have appropriate access to a quality Arts program and that they are physically active and fit. We expect our high school students to stay on track to graduate and take a rigorous course load that prepares them for what lies beyond graduation. As a school system, we offer far more than these basic expectations and our community goes above and beyond for students. 
 As a member of this community, you may wonder how you can help. The answer here is simple as well. We can all lead by example. Consider how your hard work and effort is observed by the children in this community and how your positive example is noticed. I think of the great work of the folks involved in the many community groups that give of their time, talent and treasure for the betterment of this community. Positive examples, however, are not limited to these groups. Far more important are the daily interactions of family members as they go through their lives. As we consistently show that hard work, fairness, empathy and strength of character are important to us then they become important to our children as well. I look forward to continuing the collaboration that exists between the public schools and the community to put our students in the best position possible as they travel through our school system and into the world. 

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