Franklin County has two Schools of Recognition

  • Swift River School in New Salem. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID MCLELLAN

  • Whately Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/11/2019 11:29:26 PM
Modified: 10/11/2019 11:29:11 PM

Two Franklin County schools are among the 67 recognized by the state for strong MCAS achievement or for exceeding their performance targets.

Whately Elementary School and Swift River School in New Salem were named as Schools of Recognition in the “High Growth” category by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and their principals expressed pride in the acknowledgments paid to their institutions.

“There’s always room for growth, but it’s really exciting to have our efforts sort of acknowledged in this way,” said Kristina Kirton, in her second year as principal at Whately Elementary School. “There are several different ways to make that list. … You could be on that list if you just had overall high scores. You could be on that list if you show tremendous growth, and we were growth.

“And … to me, that means the most,” she added. “Because you can have lots of high scores but kids who were naturally high (in performance) and didn’t get pushed to their next level.”

The other categories were “High Achievement” and “Exceeding Targets.”

Kelley Sullivan, in her seventh year as principal at Swift River School, which serves students from New Salem and Wendell, said the state’s recognition is proof the school is meeting its benchmarks.

“I think the teachers work really hard to make sure the children are able to feel successful when they take the test,” she said in reference to MCAS, which is administered in April and May. “I think it’s wonderful for our students, that they’re making so much progress.”

But Sullivan and Kirton also said there is more to education than test-taking. Sullivan said MCAS is not always a fair assessment of a child’s capabilities. She told of one student who had phenomenal comprehension skills but could not fluently read the MCAS test due to dyslexia.

Kirton echoed that sentiment.

“We don’t put too much emphasis on those test scores. It’s just one measure of the many things that go on in this building, and so much of what we do has nothing to do with anything that could be measured on a test,” she said. “It’s very important for us to not only have kids who are academically proficient but also know how to be good citizens of the world, and we spend a lot of time on that. So, I’m proud of that as well.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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