Bethel Board of Education Goals and Focus 2021-2022, from BPS Supt. Dr. Carver and BOE Chair O’Brien

Report by Paula Antolini, August 24, 2021, 6:42PM EDT

Message to Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Community Members, from Melanie O’Brien, Chair, Bethel Board                 of Education and Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, August 24, 2021:

We are so excited to begin our school year next Monday, August 30, 2021.  We have come so far as a community and will continue to be diligent in our efforts to keep our students and staff safe and healthy as we start this school year.  The Board of Education and District appreciate your cooperation, effort, and support in ensuring we have a successful year.  

We recognize there is concern that some of our children lost academic and social-emotional ground after last year’s disruptions to teaching and learning.  The administration and school staff have been and will continue to conduct assessments to determine who needs support and how to help those who aren’t achieving grade-level competency. With students in the classroom, teachers will have hands-on contact and observations to fully assess each child. Once properly assessed, a support plan may be developed. While we do not believe that the standardized testing data from last year is a fair reflection of our student’s abilities, it certainly shows an impact on overall achievement. Interestingly, the most impacted was the achievement of the “average student”.  In addition, not surprisingly, our chronic absentee attendance data was significantly higher than normal.  We have been working with our staff over the spring and summer to implement instructional practices that will ensure that our students rebound to grade-level standards and address social-emotional needs.  Anxious or depressed students are less likely to be able to concentrate on learning.  We strongly believe that we have the best teachers, administrators, and support staff in the State of Connecticut; we have no doubt that we will reach those goals.  

To that end, the Board of Education has adopted three goals for the coming year based on our five (5) year Strategic Plan.  Our annual Board goals are reflective of the strategic plan. The strategic plan is a road map for the District for the next 5 years. The strategic plan is very transparent in laying out the means to move the district forward for all of our students.

Education Equity & Acceleration of Learning to Meet Grade-Level Standards 

Based on assessment, implement instructional practices to accelerate learning to rebound our students back to grade-level standards.   

The district has adopted the acceleration framework to rebound our students back to grade-level standards.  Within the acceleration framework, there are specific strategies that will be implemented districtwide to ensure ALL of our students are achieving within grade-level standards (what we want students to be able to know and do).  


Develop our understanding of social and emotional skills: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, in order to foster our students’ social and emotional well-being and improve outcomes in school and in life.

Prior to the pandemic, we had seen a concerning number of students who were demonstrating heightened social-emotional issues.  This link will provide you with an overview of social-emotional learning (SEL).  Simply put, SEL teaches students skills to understand and be able to regulate their emotions.  At the classroom level, it means teaching students to be kind, have strategies if they are sad, upset, anxious, etc.  It also creates a system in which students receive interventions if needed, conducted by school mental health staff and in consultation with parents/guardians.  The district has adopted the RULER program from the  Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, which will be implemented this Fall, PreK-8.  Our SEL Committee will also be selecting a program for Bethel High School and developing systems of support for our students.  

Civility & Inclusion

Assess, review, and revise the district’s curriculum, policies, procedures, and practices to create systems of equity for all of our students and allow for civil discourse among stakeholders.  

There is a lot of misinformation about equity work in school districts.  Equity is ensuring that ALL of our students have the support they need to achieve academic success and be prepared for a global workforce.   When school districts talk about equity work based on data, here are some examples of that type of work:

  • Ensuring that students with disabilities are receiving a free and appropriate public education (FAPE);
  • Looking at our math and science classes to ensure that  females and students of color  are taking those rigorous courses;
  • Examining dropout rates by high needs groups; and 
  • Ensuring that we are not over-identifying our English learners for special education.

We could cite countless more examples.  The central idea is to review our practices to ensure that we are instituting systems that contribute to ALL of our students meeting their potential.  We celebrate the increased diversity in our schools and we want ALL of our students to feel included and reach academic success.  One in three students in the Bethel Public Schools are students of color.  Approximately, thirteen percent are students with disabilities and close to six percent are English Learners.  We are committed to ensuring that our resources reflect our student body.  An example of this is that we purchase children’s books that reflect the students with whom we serve.  We are not “taking away” anything in our curriculum, but ensuring that we teach perspectives as we seek to understand our world.  Our strategic plan identifies our direct action steps to meet our goals.  

Lastly, we also want to enhance civil discourse among our stakeholders.  That includes our students, staff, families, and the broader community.  We want to reinforce that it is ok to differ in our beliefs and opinions, but to do so in a manner that is respectful and seeks understanding.  At the end of the day, we may not agree, but listening to others’ perspectives and ideas are acknowledged and do not damage relationships.  

We believe that these goals for the coming school year will continue to propel our work forward as a school district and support our students’ academic and social-emotional needs as we work through the pandemic.  If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.  We value all stakeholder input.