Haverhill High School Shows Academic Improvement, Vaulting Over 2019 Test Results

Haverhill High School gymnasium. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill High School test results have significantly improved when compared to other school districts across the state.

School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti presented WHAV with the results of Massachusetts’ most recent High School Ranking Report of 285 school districts based on student test scores from the 2020-2021 school year.

Those results show Haverhill jumped from a ranking of 270 to 224, a 46-point improvement over 2019 results. The report measured 1,852 students in grades 9-12. Whittier Regional Vocational Technical School also showed significant improvement, climbing from a 219 ranking in 2019 to 177 in 2021.

The report also showed the per pupil expenditure for each school district with Haverhill High School spending $14,418 per student and Whittier Tech spending $21,037 per student.

In a related matter, school officials presented Committee members with an update on a literacy and math intervention program approved by the School Committee last year. That program provides help to students in grades K-8, experiencing learning loss due to the pandemic.

Jennifer Peterson, lead literacy coach, said between fall and winter, 871 students in 10 schools took advantage of the smaller group instruction. Lauren Egan, a Reading interventionist at Tilton Lower School explained how the program works.

“I see students who struggle. We work a lot on phonological awareness, which is thinking about the sounds we hear in speech and then we work a lot on phonics and then every lesson includes comprehension,” she said

Jessica Todd, a literary coach at Tilton Upper and Lower Schools, also stressed the importance of helping students early on. She cited statistics showing students who are not proficient at reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school.

Improvements in math were also noted. Mathematics Supervisor Kate Lally said 400 students in 10 schools are taking part in that intervention program and, as a result, are closing the achievement gap with their peers. Kimberly Surette, a mathematics interventionist at Caleb Dustin Hunking School, shared some of the latest results of the program.

“This fall, the data from I-Ready showed that 37% of students in our school were two or more years below grade level. That number is now down to 23% as of the winter diagnostic and we are really looking forward to seeing future diagnostics,” she said.

School Committee members said they are impressed with the results thus far with Toni Sapienza-Donais expressing hope the learning groups can be reduced in size to provide more one-on-one instruction.

Committee members Richard J. Rosa and Magliocchetti expressed their desires to add more money to the upcoming school budget to provide more interventionists and service a greater number of students.

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