Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

MVMMS Incident, PARCC results, Ed. Stations, Committee Self-Evaluation, and More…

After a lively report from our wonderful student representatives, Supt. Taymore noted that the School Calendar was being pulled from the agenda since more work was needed on it in order to make it complete enough for a full discussion. She then read a joint statement from the Middle School and her office regarding the November 20th incident involving 7th grade students. (That statement can be found here: http://mvmms.melroseschools.com/2015/11/statement-from-mps-regarding-mvmms-incident-on-november-20-2015/.)

Results from spring PARCC testing were presented by Asst. Supt. for Teaching and Learning Dr. Margaret Adams, and the leadership team was present to address questions. The presentation is on pp. 43-92 of http://melrosecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=2502&Inline=True with supplemental documents following and it’s worth the time to watch it at http://www.mmtv3.org/index.php?categoryid=28 (from 23:50-1:19:10). Some highlights:

·               PARCC was considered more difficult than MCAS. Students who took PARCC with paper and pencil performed better than students who took the on-line version.
·               ELA: 76%-87% of students achieved Level 4/5 (the two top categories). Growth percentile at 59.5th – 71st for all grades (60th-80th percentile = high growth). Students with disabilities experienced the greatest “gap to proficiency” of any subgroup. Next elementary steps: fully implement new reading materials and writing units; strengthen science and social studies writing; implement individual student success plans. Next middle schools steps: regular and special education teacher collaboration; and focus additional time on students with disabilities.
·               Math: 57%-77% of students achieved Level 4/5. Growth percentile at 50th-67th. All high needs students, particularly students with disabilities, experienced the greatest “gap to proficiency.” Next elementary steps: continue mathematical best practices; continue math projects for students who need more challenge; continue to align class assessments with evolving state assessments; use rubrics more often to review and evaluate student responses to math tasks. Middle school: more data analysis, alignment of assessments, and differentiated instruction.
·               PARCC will be given in 2016. The state Board of Education voted in November to develop a PARCC-MCAS hybrid assessment beginning in 2017 (now being called MCAS 2.0) in order to capture the most useful features of both assessment tools. More information to come from the Board as time goes on.
·               Comments from questions: Learned from the results: the positive impact from the amount of writing (including analysis) and “paired reading” (two-three different texts ->analyze ->write – it’s a matter of practice in English, but also social studies and beginning in science) which begins in Kindergarten and goes through high school. Changes to curriculum alignment have benefited students. Staff does not “teach to the test” and actually can’t since it’s a performance-based test; they just use quality curriculum and instruction. While Melrose only compares to itself, it’s a fact that the district performed better than a wide group of other districts around the state, including our neighbors and other high-performing districts.

Education Stations has grown from one school with a handful of students to eight schools with 700 students and is now at capacity. It is a $1.4M enterprise/year requiring immense attention to finances, staffing, and the continuation and building of quality programs (e.g. there is much interest in moving the model to the middle school.) The district needs a sustainable, cost-effective, and beneficial model so over the next few months, program director Dr. Josephson will be working with Executive Service Corps to build a long-term plan. She will step back from some day-to-day duties and her experienced assistants will be filling responsibilities allowing her to focus on this project.

Subcommittees of the full School Committee submitted end-of-year reports for consideration by the Committee as we prepared our annual self-evaluation. Each member provided comments as desired, which will be included in the meeting minutes and will also be aggregated by Ms. Dugan in a summary document prior to presentation at the next meeting. That information will help inform actions and activities next year.

As part of our commitment to financial transparency and accountability (and in conjunction with our action items for the year), finance policies have undergone a review and in some cases revision. Final votes are scheduled for 12/8.

The state’s Foundation Budget Review Commission has issued its final report. The next challenge for the state legislature will be to explore how recommendations can/will be funded.

A review of the Superintendent’s evaluation process was approved, with the next action being her mid-cycle review scheduled for February 23rd.

Don’t forget tomorrow night’s (12/3) public forum on competency-based learning (to be held from 6:00-7:30 in the MVMMS Auditorium). Our next regular business meeting (and last meeting of the year) will be held next Tuesday (12/8) at 7:00 on the Aldermanic Chamber.