The staff poses Tuesday afternoon in front of Waterville Valley Elementary School whose students recently placed first in both reading and math in New Hampshire on the NECAP standardized tests. From left to right are Judy McChesney, Kate Smartz, Principal Gail Hannigan, Tonia Orlando, David Poole, Jenn Souza, Amy Ulrichson, Laurel Dodge and Clair Larsen. (John Koziol Photo)
Waterville Valley Elementary School tops again in state
WATERVILLE VALLEY — It takes a valley to raise an academically-successful student, says Gail Hannigan, who credited parents, educators and the community for again helping Waterville Valley Elementary to earn top marks in the NECAP math and reading tests.
The principal of WVES for 13 years, Hannigan on Tuesday found herself in the familiar position of explaining how the school — which has 34 students in grades K-8 — keeps coming out on top with the highest math and reading results in New Hampshire on the New England Common Assessment Program tests.
The state Department of Education recently released the Fall 2013 NECAP results and since then Hannigan has been fielding phone calls and inquiries from colleagues looking to replicate the accomplishments at WVES.
For starters, Hannigan said, “We do data-driven instruction which is what the state is looking for” from all its schools eventually, and which WVES has been doing so for 12 years.
Independent of standardized testing WVES tests its students three times a year to make sure that they’re progressing.
If a student is falling behind his or her peers, that situation can be identified and addressed quickly, said Hannigan, conversely if a student is advancing past their classmates, that, too, can be remedied by placing the student in a more academically-rigorous setting.
“We have tremendous community spirit” in Waterville Valley, said Hannigan, adding that in her time at WVES, the support for the school has come from parents and citizens, as well as from the school board and local school administrative unit office. Cumulatively, she said those entities provide the emotional backing and material resources that the school needs.
There’s nothing magical about why WVES students do well, Hannigan said, it’s just simple things that when put together, really add up.