On Tuesday, October 13th the District Held the first full-day of professional development. During the morning portion of the program, administrators shared the District’s expectation regarding high quality assessments and the role that the assessment plays in defining the standards. Teachers worked on evaluating our current assessments and using collegial feedback to improve the quality of assessments. Elementary staff also worked with the Massachusetts Audubon Society on science process standards focusing on inquiry and the power of the question. The District Leadership Team did an outstanding job with the presentation of the materials for teachers.
Finance and Operations
The Committee had a budget meeting immediately prior to this meeting where we discussed the process and timeline for the development of the FY17 budget. Included in your packet are the directions provided to the DLT regarding budget preparations so that the Superintendent can make informed recommendations to the Committee. At our last meeting, you received your final FY16 budget books which should help us as we move forward and make decisions for the upcoming year.
Elementary Math Leadership Team
The Elementary Math Leadership Team held their first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. The new learning for the Math Leadership Team was the eight characteristics of a standards based math classroom. These characteristics are published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and can be found here for your review. These characteristics define what we expect to see in our mathematics classrooms and are aligned with the Educator Evaluation System.
MCAS vs PARCC
The Massachusetts Board of Education will be making a decision next month regarding whether District’s in the State will be administering PARCC or MCAS this school year. As the Committee is aware, I have become less certain that the Massachusetts would change to the PARCC Assessment. Two independent reports released this week support this hypothesis. Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) assessed the predictive validity of college success of both the PARCC and MCAS Assessments. Significant from MPR’s findings is the following:
We find that scores on the PARCC and the MCAS do equally well at predicting students’ success in college, as measured by first-year grades and by the probability that a student needs remediation after entering college. Scores on both tests, in both subjects, are significantly and positively correlated with students’ college outcomes, and the differences between the predictive validity of the PARCC and MCAS scores are small. When examining the predictive value of meeting each test’s performance standard (defined by PARCC as college and career ready and by MCAS as proficient), the two tests produce results that are not statistically distinguishable in English language arts but that differ in mathematics. In mathematics, the PARCC exam has defined a higher performance standard for college and career readiness than the current MCAS standard for proficiency, making the PARCC performance standards better aligned with college grades and remediation needs. Because the underlying scores on the MCAS and PARCC assessments are equally predictive, Massachusetts policymakers have more than one option to align high-school mathematics test standards with college readiness: one possibility would be to adopt the PARCC exam, but another option would be to continue using MCAS while simply setting a higher score threshold for college readiness. Either of these options would achieve the goal of ensuring that the state’s high-school assessments provide better information about college readiness to students, parents, educators, and policymakers.
The paper goes on to discuss that while this is the case in Massachusetts because our State exam (MCAS) is already so rigorous, it may not be the case in all states considering adoption of PARCC.
The other paper A Comparison of PARCC and MCAS Assessment Systems also addresses the competency determination of “college and career readiness” in the following manner:
Although a decision on the competency determination is not required at this time, the Board must consider and anticipate the consequences of the choices it makes now on the future options that will be available. As discussed in Section III, assessments serve a variety of policy objectives at the same time. In order to successfully serve each purpose, however, policy-makers must be clear about the objectives of the assessment, balancing the demands of breadth, depth, available time, and resources to effectively meet their goals. Moreover, each purpose should be assessed for its validity. As a member of a consortium, the Commonwealth is more limited in its ability to alter the design of the assessment system to meet Massachusetts-specific needs and purposes. If the Board chooses to remain in PARCC, they will have to establish an appropriate requirement for high school graduation within an assessment system much more focused on college readiness than the MCAS system it may replace. Not all PARCC members will use the PARCC assessment to establish a high school graduation requirement. Because of this, it is unlikely that the high school tests have been or will be developed by the consortium in a way that focuses their precision on items and standards most appropriate for use as a CD. This question of how a high school competency determination standard fits into an overall college-and-career-readiness system will require careful attention by the Board as it moves forward. …Yet, for a variety of reasons, the existing MCAS 10th grade test does not offer the Board an easy alternative. There are a number of concerns about the 10th grade test as it currently exists. As discussed throughout this report, the state revised its ELA and math standards in 2010 to incorporate the Common Core standards plus some additional standards unique to Massachusetts. At that time, partly due to fairness concerns over limited exposure to the new standards by current high school students at the time, the 18 Department and Board decided to treat the transition of the 10th grade assessment differently from that in the lower grades. In grades 3-8, nearly all of the 2010 Curriculum Frameworks are assessed, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In contrast, the grade 10 assessments are based on a narrower set of standards. The current grade 10 MCAS test only assesses standards that are both part of the 2010 standards and the 2000/2001 standards (the intersection of the two standards); the 10th grade MCAS does not assess students on all of the Curriculum Frameworks. The “test drive” of PARCC likely delayed the full transition of the 10th grade test as limited resources were stretched to maintain two assessment systems simultaneously. However, if allowed to continue, this narrowed focus of the 10th grade test would be expected to incent changes in curriculum and instructional practice in ways that the Board is not likely to regard as positive, if it has not already begun to do so. Beyond the narrowing of the standards assessed, the 10th grade test has also experienced technical challenges due to the utilization of different equating practices to ensure year-to-year consistency in tested materials. This challenge is sometimes referred to as “drift” or “inflation.” Although the Department has recently addressed these technical challenges, it is still the case that the current results of the 10th grade MCAS test likely overstate the progress made by students over the past decade. For more information about this issue see “Trends in Grade 10 MCAS Proficiency and College Remediation” on page 31. If the Board chooses to continue using MCAS as the statewide assessment, it should pay particular attention to improving and updating the 10th grade test since it is likely that the current assessment may be sending inaccurate signals regarding student achievement. If the Board chooses to remain with the MCAS, there is much work to do to put the state’s competency determination (CD), in particular, on a firm, transparent, and educationally appropriate footing as we move forward.
It will certainly be an interesting debate and decision to pay attention to next month.
Superintendent’s School Visits
· High School- Wednesday, October 14th
Walk/Bike to School Event
October 7th, we had our first Walk/Bike to school event for the year at the elementary schools. We had a wonderful rate of participation:
· Mulready: 85 Participants
· Forest: 70 Participants
· Farley: 125 Participants
This is a wonderful way for children to have some increased activity in the morning and in many cases spend quality time with an adult as they walk to the school together. Thank you to everyone that participated.
Mary O’Malley Child Development Center Dedication
October 8th was a truly remarkable evening as over 150 people came out to honor Mary O'Malley. The District is honored to have the Child Development Program at the J.L. Mulready School named after her. Mary shared her talent, love and expertise with the children and families of Hudson for over 40 years as a teacher, guidance counselor, school psychologist, tutor and mentor. The ceremony that evening honored her persistence and dedication as we celebrated her passionate belief that all children have the right to realize their fullest potential - academically, emotionally and socially.
The QMS Ruby Team wanted to take their multidisciplinary garden approach to the next level. They reach out to our Communication and Development Coordinator, Denise Reid, and in less than 24 hours the generous citizens of Hudson had fully funded the project. The project description is below:
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" Audrey Hepburn. Teaching is much the same as this quote, we teach because we believe in the future. My students' biggest challenge is access to materials to extend our growing season. These supplies will take our gardening project to new learning heights
The grade 6 students in my classroom are an enthusiastic, engaging, supportive and curious group of young individuals.
In the month that we have been together we have established a great community. Our middle school consists of a socioeconomically diverse group of students. We have a substantial amount of students on free/reduced lunch. In our part of the state we have a higher than region average of students and adults with obesity. This project would provide students with opportunities to exercise and learn how to make healthy food choices. We pride ourselves on our commitment to nurturing environmental responsibility in our students. At our middle school we seek to prepare students for a lifetime of learning, leadership and integrity. Together we are inspired by the ideals of honesty, responsibility, empathy and courage. We have a great deal to offer our students and the strength of our partnership with our community is an important factor in the success of our kids.
With these new materials, 6th grade students will be able to actively engage in a wider array of gardening areas. A school garden provides a meaningful context in which students can apply new academic concepts and skills. In the first 2 years of the garden, students received seedlings to plant directly in the garden. With the growing light, peat pods, starting trays, etc., students will be able to participate in the plant growing process from the beginning and observe the plant cycle from seed to harvest. With the addition of a compost bin, our 5th grade students would be able to engage in soil sciences by composting food scraps from the cafeteria to create rich natural fertilizer for the garden. Students will be testing the soil Ph to determine the needs of the soil and see the benefits of composting food waste and recycling the nutrients of that waste into rich nutrients for chemical free fertilizer. Students will focus on real world problems in math and donate food to food pantry.
Donations to this project will improve our classroom by helping our students develop a lifelong love of science and promote healthy eating.
It will teach empathy in donating food to food pantry. Students will get exercise and learn healthy eating choices. By having the ability to start gardening indoors months before the last frost, we will be able to produce more vegetables for our families and the local food pantry. This project would allow us to involve more students from other grades.
Once again, I am proud and humbled to be part of this educational team that works so hard to teach our children and a citizen of a Town where residents support the important work that we do.
National Art Honor Society Induction
I had the privilege of attending the National Art Honor Society Induction Ceremony on Thursday, October 15th, Mrs. Yates, Mr. Correa and the Art Department put on a wonderful ceremony that honored our young artists who also exhibit outstanding character. I was very impressed by the art show that the students curated that evening we have some very talented students I would like to congratulate:
The Hudson Special Education Parent Advisory Council will be holding reorganization meeting October 22nd at the same time as Unified Bocce Ball practice. The meeting will be held in the library at Forest Avenue.
All enrollment numbers are up to date as of the writing of this report. They are unofficial numbers. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects snapshots of enrollment data three times per year October, March, and June. I will provide you with monthly enrollment numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.