Assessing progress at Holyoke Public Schools

22News spoke with students about the changes they've seen over the past year.

holyoke high school
Holyoke High School is seen here in a WWLP file image from May of 2015

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker visited Holyoke High School Tuesday to assess progress after the state took control. This is the second year the state has controlled the Holyoke Public Schools in an effort to improve learning, graduation rates and test scores.

Holyoke Public Schools had some of the poorest test scores and graduation rates in the state since 2003.

“Honestly I think a lot of students have been trying harder with their academics and I feel like people tend to put this view on Holyoke and Holyoke High in like a negative way but I believe that we as a team have done a lot more with our academics have don much more with our academics,” Jasmin Rodriguez, a Senior at Holyoke High School said.

This year all ninth graders attend Holyoke High School and Dean Technical High School serves grades 10-12.  More than half of the Freshmen at Holyoke High are taking an exploratory course at Dean that introduces them to other career paths. Carian Gonzalez, a Senior at Holyoke High School told 22News, “You get to go to one high school and your learning there but being able to transition between two high schools is a great opportunity and I think that’s pretty cool.”

70 Students from Holyoke High and 12 from Dean are also earning college credits through UMass-Amherst and Holyoke Community College.  Dr. Stephen Zrike, the Receiver and Superintendent of Holyoke Public Schools told 22News, “There’s been some good progress particularly in English and Language Arts and so we’re excited about that. Still have a tremendous amount of work to do as a district and that’s only one indicator of success.”

Holyoke High School has 15 new teachers, but not all are new to the district. Some came from the middle schools. At the Elementary and Middle School levels, the school day has been extended to 7.5 hours to allow for more time for teacher prep and enrichment classes.