BETHEL — Test scores and attendance rates have improved since the creation of the Telstar Freshmen Academy program, Telstar High School Dean of Students Kristin Dacko told the SAD 44 school board Monday night.

Since the implementation of the program in 2015, school administrators have been conducting numerous studies and data tracking to prove its success.

In her presentation Monday, Dacko showed the board how the Class of 2019 improved its Northwest Educational Assessment test scores from fall 2015 to spring 2016 by double what was expected, based on the national growth.

The Class of 2020 also improved its scores from fall 2015 to spring 2016 by more than double what was expected.

In the area of attendance, the chronically absent students (those who miss 18 or more days during the school year) in the Class of 2019 lowered their average number of days missed from 29 in the 2014-15 school year to 20 in the 2015-16 school year.

The chronically absent students in the Class of 2020 lowered the average number of days missed from 30 in the 2015-16 school year to 22 in the 2016-17 school year.

The TFA model brings the entire freshman class (55 students) onto the campus of the Bryant Pond 4-H Learning Center for a portion of every school day to take part in project-based experiences. Students work closely with four educators who focus on team-building, incorporating experiential and outdoor education into the curriculum, and completing project-based group and individual assignments, according to the program’s most recent report.

In other business, the board approved the calendar for the 2018-19 school year. Students will begin Wednesday, Aug. 29, and end Monday, June 17. The calendar has five storm days built in, the same as the previous year.

The board also approved hiring 2007 Telstar High School graduate Kara Kimball, who will begin teaching eighth-grade social studies in the fall. Kimball previously taught at the middle-school level in Gray.

The last day with an hourlong extension to make up for excessive snow days will be Wednesday, April 25. School will end at the regular time of 2:20 p.m for the remainder of the year.

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