New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

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Two Schools Honored by State

Two New Britain schools have been recognized by ConnCAN, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now.

ConnCAN, which runs results-oriented advocacy campaigns for school reform, has recognized House of Arts, Letters and Sciences (HALS) Academy as a 2011 ConnCAN Success Story school.

To qualify as a “Success Story,” schools must make it to the top three in one of the Top 10 lists and have a combined minority and low-income population of at least 75 percent. Schools are recognized for leading the way in raising student achievement and helping close the state’s achievement gap. HALS Academy was one of nine middle schools recognized by ConnCAN as a “Success Story.”

HALS Academy and New Britain’s Chamberlain Primary School also have been recognized as ConnCAN Top 10 Schools.

“This is a pretty big honor. I’m delighted,” said Elaine Zottola, principal at HALS. “ConnCAN is kind of an education watchdog agency based in New Haven. They do their own data collecting as the state never will tell you who the top ranking school is as far as kids meeting criteria for proficiency and above. We are number one ranked in the state in schools with low income. We are pretty sure there is no other school that is ranked above us (in any income). We are the number one middle school in state.”

HALS Academy ranked first in Low Income Student Performance. Low income students at HALS Academy surpassed the state average percentage of students scoring at or above goal on the CMT and CAPT.

“We have kids with very high potential and we push them to realize their potential. We are not satisfied with being proficient,” said Zottola. “We’re a school for gifted for high and achieving kids and we can adapt a curriculum to meet their needs. It’s difficult in a regular classroom for teachers to spend the time needed with high achieving kids. Frequently, they are forgotten. We have a wonderful faculty that works really hard.”

Chamberlain Primary School ranked fifth in Overall Improvement, and both HALS Academy and Chamberlain Primary School will be presented with a plaque of recognition from ConnCAN.

Jane Perez, Principal at Chamberlain, said her school’s scores increased in reading, writing and math in the CMT’s.

She believes much of the school’s improvement is due to the Project CHILD (Changing How Instruction for Learning is Delivered) Model.

Teachers work in teams to teach different courses to students for three years.

“Children who took the tests began this model in first grade. We thought we would see better scores and we did,” said Perez. “Teachers know exactly where kids are and start the new school year running. We are really seeing great success.”