For several years, Pittsfield Elementary School (PES) has been identified by the New Hampshire Department of Education as a “focus school.” This has meant that the Department has calculated that the “achievement gap” between subgroups of students (such as “economically disadvantaged” or “students with disabilities”) has been among the ten percent of schools with the largest gap in the state when compared with the combined index of all New Hampshire students.
As a result of this designation, PES has been required to develop annual improvement plans and has received additional support for this important work from the state. Among these supports provided by the Department of Education have been an improvement coach, regular professional development, and participation in an annual summertime educational summit by our teachers and administrators. The Department has also closely monitored PES’s planning, implementation, and annual results.
On October 12, Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut announced that “Pittsfield Elementary School has reached the criteria necessary to exit the status of a … Focus School for the 2017-2018 school year.” Needless to say, we were very pleased to receive this announcement and are very proud of the fine work of our students, teachers, support staff, and families in supporting the achievement of all students.
In his letter to the district, Commissioner Edelblut wrote “Please share our thanks with your staff for all the hard work and effort to improve your school and community culture, instructional strategies, and support for your teachers and the achievement level of your students. Your diligent work over the past four years is highly appreciated by all the staff at the New Hampshire Department of Education. Keep up your good work! Once again, congratulations!”
Removal of the designation of “focus school” does not mean that PES will cease school improvement work; of course, school improvement is a constant goal. However, it is important to pause at milestones such as this one to recognize the school’s positive achievement. Rising above the state’s “focus school” designation is an achievement in which our entire community of Pittsfield can take great pride.