New Britain’s HALS Academy a ‘success story school’

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — A middle school in the city, HALS Academy, is one of 24 public schools being honored by a state education advocacy group.

HALS Academy, or House of Arts, Letters and Science Academy, on Pendleton Road in New Britain was named one of this year’s “success story schools.”

“To have state recognition of course is wonderful,” said Principal Elaine Zottola. “It just validates that our students are performing well and our teachers are doing their jobs.”

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now every year reviews more than 1,000 public schools to determine which ones will be recognized.

“We talk about the problem that is Connecticut’s achievement gap,” said Patrick Riccards, CEO of the coalition. “When we look at schools like HALS Academy, it shows we are able to bridge that gap.”

The grades are based on students’ performance on two standardized tests, the Connecticut Mastery Test, which is given to students in grades three through eight, and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, given to students in the 10th grade.

Based on the test scores, the coalition assigns each school and school district with four letter grades in the following categories: overall student performance, student subgroup performance, performance gains and achievement.

To be named a “success story,” a school must have a combined minority and low-income population of at least 75 percent where at least one of those subgroups outperforms the overall state average.

HALS Academy ranked first for low-income student performance in a middle school, with 95.4 percent of federally designated low-income students scoring above the goal set by the state, which is considered a proficient score. Statewide, 44.2 percent of low-income students scored above the proficient level.

Meanwhile other schools in the area also received recognition: Chamberlain Elementary School in New Britain was ranked fifth in improvement, Farmington High School was ranked first in low-income student performance, and Newington High School was ranked fourth in Hispanic student performance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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