Two Schools Earn “School of Distinction” Honor from State

Burr Elementary School and Killingworth Elementary School (KES), have been named “Schools of Distinction” for the 2021-22 school year by the Connecticut State Department of Education.

The school of distinction recognition is given to schools in the top 10 percent of the state for their performance and/or growth as measured by the Connecticut Next Generation Accountability System.  

“What is most striking about this amazing accomplishment is that it is bucking state and national trends coming out of the pandemic,” said Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Wihbey. “The compounding effects of building leadership, dedicated staff, and laser-like focus on student needs earned this outcome for our students.”

“We made difficult and sometimes unpopular choices during the pandemic about keeping schools open and running a full school schedule,” said Suzanne Sack, Board of Education Chair. “It was a difficult time for everyone - emotionally and physically, however, kids, parents, RSD17 staff and leadership persevered through it. We are grateful to our former superintendent Dr. Holly Hageman for leading with courage and grace and looking out for the well being of staff and children and adding critical resources in our elementary schools to offset short term learning loss. And, here we are one year out of the pandemic with our two elementary schools achieving distinction. It’s a tribute to the values of our community and our staff with a common vision to do what’s best for kids - especially in their formative years. We thank everyone for their  unwavering commitment.”

The Next Generation Accountability System standards rely on a broad set of 12 indicators that help tell the story of how well a school is preparing its students for success in college, careers, and life. The system moves beyond test scores and graduation rates and instead provides a more holistic, multifactor perspective of district and school performance and incorporates student growth over time.

KES earned a perfect score of 100 on the accountability system and was noted for high academic achievement. 

“The dedication, perseverance, and expertise of our staff is remarkable,” said KES Principal Dennis Reed. “This is a reflection of their hard work and the commitment of our families and students to creating a high quality elementary educational experience.”

In addition to the 2021-22 recognition, Burr Elementary School was recognized as a school of distinction in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

“We are thrilled to have been recognized by the state for our efforts this past year,” said Burr Elementary School Principal Brienne Whidden. “The staff at Burr continued to show an unwavering commitment to our students and families. The efforts of every single staff member at Burr contributed to this success.”

“Our new Superintendent, Jeffrey Wihbey, through the leadership of our principals and the growth mindset of our staff are doubling down on adopting new research based curriculum, enhancing teaching methods, and learning and growing to be the best educators they can be,” said Suzanne Sack. “It’s extraordinary in the light of this wonderful and satisfying accomplishment to see the potential of our continued growth.”