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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cool (and Slightly Wonky) Education Discussion (2/9 Citywide PTO): Part 1 of 3

Supt. Taymore led a veritable clinic on selected thoughts, hopes, and challenges for the district in today’s Citywide PTO meeting.

First the nuts and bolts:

·               The district is getting back on its feet after two snow days. The DPW did a great job!

·               PARCC vs. MCAS 2.0 testing: * Some of the questions are now available, but student results by question are not and may not be given that Pearson owns them, and Pearson is a business with their own business model. (And no one should forget that education is a business.) * The Commissioner has called for volunteers to help craft MCAS 2.0 and our representative will be Director of English Angela Singer. * There were many problems with PARCC (which is why the pencil/paper results were better than the same tests taken on computer), including the learning curve related to online testing (including lack of training time), computers crashed/froze due to hardware problems or bandwidth access, etc.

·               Executive Service Corps is a non-profit consultant who is working with Dr. Heather Josephson to plan changes to Education Stations that will make it sustainable and manageable (having grown from scratch to 700 students in six buildings).

·               Are you or someone you know interested in theater production? Mr. McCall, our Production Manager extraordinaire is retiring and a replacement is essential. Must be competent in sound, lighting, and props; and payment is on a per- production basis. If interested, please contact the Supt.

·               Athletic Director and Director of Health, Wellness, and PE Pat Ruggiero is retiring and our challenge is determining whether we can financially afford (and employ with required certifications), a replacement within that job configuration, or whether the position needs to be reconfigured. After that is determined, there will be a search committee to recommend a candidate (or candidates) to the Supt.

·               The Supt. opined, “This city has a tremendous amount of knowledgeable and skilled residents.” She gave as an example a recent survey done by Director of Science Jon Morris that showed that in his sample, 40% of Melrose parents work in the STEM field. They are giving their time at the High School’s Career Day, helping with grant opportunities, etc. She is also excited about the training opportunities for staff members who have been accepted into specialized programs in the STEM field (ref: the Announcements of the Supt. in tonight’s School Committee meeting packet). A Citywide PTO parent commented how excited MHS students get when someone working in the content area of a class comes in to talk about his/her work and how related student work is necessary for success in that field. Supt. Taymore indicated that students are good advocates for themselves, seeking ways to think about these opportunities. An elementary parent noted that she would like to see more parents in elementary classrooms talking about the same kinds of things.

Don't miss Part 2 of 3 on Competency Based Education - coming soon!