The state Department of Education has issued its yearly list of schools that failed to meet academic standards set under federal law. An environmental charter school in New Haven is the only high school in the state to be removed from a list of schools needing improvement.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law 80 % of 10th graders in each school must test at what’s called the proficiency level. If they don’t their school is placed on a list of schools that need to improve. This year the Common Ground High School, a small charter school, scored high enough to be moved off the list---even though about 70 % of its students begin 9th grade below grade level. Director Liz Cox credits Common Ground teachers, who have been focusing on the state curriculum standards, which prioritize certain skills. But she also credits the environmental curriculum which is woven into English, Math and other classes.
“Focusing on concepts and skills is important but it’s also important to put those concepts and skills in a real world context that is meaningful to students. And certainly that’s what the environmental studies context is for us here at Common Ground.”
Cox says everybody at the school is proud to move off the list, but her goal is to push the test scores even higher.