HAMPTON -- While many New Hampshire schools were teaching remotely in the fall of 2020, the Barnard School in South Hampton kept its doors open and classrooms filled.
It wasn’t easy.
One classroom was too small for the required 6-foot distancing, so students were spread between two rooms. One teacher went back and forth during the day. For other students, the gymnasium became their classroom.
But three years later, student standardized test scores at the K-8 school in SAU 21 continue to climb and exceed state averages.
“We are extremely proud of our teachers, staff and families for continuing to make education a top priority, despite the challenges we faced during and after the pandemic,’’ said Principal Michelle Witt said. “Our student test scores show that our hard work is paying off.’’
In 2023, 78 percent of Barnard students were proficient in English Language Arts compared to 63 percent in 2019. In math, 76 percent of Barnard students were proficient compared to 68 percent in 2019.
Gains in science were even more significant. In 2023, 64 percent of Barnard students were proficient compared to 42 in 2019.
Witt, who joined the school as Principal in 2020, attributes the rising test scores to several factors including the decision to have in-person learning for the entire 2020-21 school year.
She commended the staff for their flexibility and willingness to work outside the box, and families for monitoring symptoms and keeping children home when necessary.
“I asked a lot of teachers and staff, and they’ve really stepped up to the challenges — especially during COVID,’’ Witt said. “I asked them to do a lot of non-traditional things.’’
Witt said other changes that have led to increased student performance include:
- A new math curriculum.
- The use of data to identify areas students' strengths and challenges.
- The implementation of a multi-tiered support system to ensure that students receive targeted support based on their individual needs.
- A shift to competency-based learning in which students use real-world examples to master a concept.
“We have made a lot of student-centered decisions,’’ Witt said. “We don’t look at a student as one teacher’s student. Each student belongs to all of us. We take a team approach to all of our students, and that’s the big shift.’’
The Barnard School has 84 students. Grades 3-8 take the ELA and math state assessments each year while grades 5 and 8 take the science exam.