Highbridge Hill Elementary School identified as school in need of support


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 11-14-2023 1:00 PM

Highbridge Hill Elementary School in New Ipswich is one of 19 schools throughout the state identified as one of the lowest-performing 5% of all schools in the state.

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, every three years, the state designates Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools (CSI), or those that are showing the greatest challenges with academic achievement and student performance. Highbridge Hill Elementary is part of the Mascenic School District, which encompasses both Greenville and New Ipswich.

Mascenic Superintendent Chris Martin said the district has been in contact with the Department of Education about the status and how to move forward.

“We contacted the DOE, because we were somewhat surprised,” Martin said. “We are one of the higher-performing CSI schools, and we do not think it will be difficult to move away from that status with the proper intervention.”

Melissa Gray, Mascenic’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the district has only had a preliminary conversation with the Department of Education at this point, but one area that is expected to have been an issue is student growth. According to the Department of Education, for elementary and middle schools, the data indicates performance in four key areas: academic achievement, academic growth, progress toward English language proficiency and academic growth of underperforming students.

“Our students didn’t make as much growth compared to peers across the state. That’s an area we have been and will continue to pay attention to,” Gray said. “We don’t know the specifics yet, and we will have to have a more-extensive conversation so we can unpack the areas students struggled in and what content they are struggling with. We will be working closely with the school and my office to determine where those areas are.”

Gray said one of the issues that was likely a contributor to the issue of students’ growth is after-effects of COVID-19, particularly on new learners entering the school environment for the first time during or after the pandemic.

Highbridge Hill is a new addition to the list, having not been identified as a CSI school in 2018 or 2022. Martin said district administrators will meet with interim Principal Chris Saunders, who took over in October, to begin those conversations.

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“Nothing important gets done alone, and we will sit with Mister Saunders and begin to put together a plan for exiting from CSI. That will be a collaborative effort,” Martin said.

Having been identified as a school in need of support and improvement, the state will be offering additional resources, including additional funding.

“To help aid with continued progress, the New Hampshire Department of Education will offer ongoing reviews, technical assistance and monitoring to support each CSI school with its improvement efforts,” stated state Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “With the goal of creating sustainable systems to help students and teachers achieve at higher levels, eligible schools that have been designated with CSI status will be awarded funds to allow viable, evidence-based practices and programs to be executed.”

A total of $3.7 million in federal funds from the total $52.9 million in Title I, Part A allocation was reserved by the New Hampshire Education Department to put toward the 19 identified schools. Martin said the district has yet to receive the information about how much of those funds go to Highbridge Hill. While conversations about where to use those funds have yet to happen, Martin said part of the plan will be assessing individual student data to provide the appropriate intervention.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.