Superintendent’s Update

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As I write this submission, we are three weeks away from our first day of school, and the excitement is building. Our summer preparations for the school year have included some hiring of new staff, curriculum and program planning, lots of school facility projects, student and parent orientations, and so much more. Our summer school programs, Band Camp, and enrichment activities were all well-attended and successful this summer, and I would like to thank everyone who had a hand in these special student opportunities.

At this point each summer, I have to remind myself that everything will be done before our students and staff arrive. With the Farmer’s Almanac predicating nice weather and no major storms for August 30, 2023 (first day of school), the bells will ring and school routines will be underway without interruption. Here are just a few program enhancements we look forward to implementing this year:

  • Interactive Classroom Technology Upgrades in all Schools
  • “Portrait of a Graduate” Habits of Mind Progress Reporting
  • Intervention Programs for Struggling Students
  • Physical Health and Wellness Programming
  • Project-based and Experiential Learning Opportunities in Science
  • Career and Technical Education Partnerships with the National Home Builder’s Institute and the Connecticut Home Builder’s Association
  • Music Education Opportunities (Chorus and Band) – including a trip to Walt Disney World for a national adjudication festival
  • Elementary After-school Enrichment Activities
  • Student Leadership and Advisory Groups
  • Improvements in Safety and Security & the addition of a third Safety and Security Specialist.

We are very happy to share that Suffield High School will be hosting two international exchange students this school year. Our exchange program declined during the pandemic, but we look forward to its new beginning this year. We recognize that hosting exchange students not only provide a great experience for the students visiting from foreign countries, but it also provides our high school students with a rich cultural perspective that helps them to think more globally and appreciate the world in which we live. Our exchange students will be joining us from France and Italy.

Prior to concluding, I would like to shed light on some of last year’s student outcomes to illustrate the strides being made in our schools. One special area of note was the tuition savings our students earned for themselves and their parents during the 2022-2023 school year. We have estimated that Suffield High School students earned college-level tuition savings in excess of $600,000 last year alone (utilizing in-state per-credit tuition costs at UCONN). They accumulated this large savings amount by taking and passing Advanced Placement, UCONN Early College Experience and Career Pathways coursework. We are very pleased to be offering more and more of these rigorous courses, and watching our students take advantage of these money-saving opportunities. Here are some additional academic performance highlights from 22-23:

  • More than 90% of students in Grade 1 met or exceeded end-of-year benchmarks for addition and subtraction fact fluency;
  • 86% of Grade 2 students met STAR Reading benchmark (increased from 52% at the beginning of the school year);
  • Grade 5 students averaged Scaled Score increases of 16 points (Math) and 11 points (Literacy) on their Smarter Balanced Assessments;
  • Out of the 17 Advancement Placement Courses taught at Suffield High School, the following had the highest percentages of students achieving passing scores of 3 or higher over the previous year:

        o AP Bio 63% (21-22) to 77% (22-23);
        o AP Calculus AB 75% (21-22) to 100% (22-23);
        o AP Chemistry 70% (21-22) to 100% (22-23);
        o AP US History 69% (21-22) to 86.7% (22-23);

  • 60% of SHS Students received Rigorous Coursework

Recommendation Letters from the CT State Department of Education based on PSAT and State Assessment criteria. While we celebrate the achievement gains, we will be setting new goals and aligning resources to support areas where further growth is needed.

In closing, I would like to start the year by noting that our students are being educated in a well-funded education system, and we will continue to put our resources to good use as we strive to provide an excellent and well-rounded education to the children of Suffield. Over the past several years, we have expanded our programs in music education, STEM, Advanced Placement and Early College Experience, Career and Technical Education, Special Education and student interventions. Additionally, our performance on state and national benchmarks shows improvements in the areas of mathematics, literacy, and science. I am grateful for the community’s support of our schools, our Board of Education, and our families and faculty for making the Suffield Public Schools the wonderful district that it is.

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