The Marion School Committee met on Wednesday, October 3 for a regular meeting followed by an executive session. Elise Frangos, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, presented an MCAS update in which she explained Massachusetts’ switch from using Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to the Progress and Performance Index (PPI) for school assessment.
Her presentation demonstrated the process for calculating PPI, which involves measuring the proficiency gap, dividing it by two, and adding it to the school’s baseline. The figure resulting from this calculation is the goal for each school to complete by the 2016-2017 school year.
PPI is a departure from AYP in that each school will have its own goal (reducing the proficiency gap by half by the target date). Under the previous system of AYP, schools were expected to meet 100 percent proficiency by the 2013-2014 school year.
PPI is calculated over the course of four years, with each successive year carrying more weight. Because of the poor 2011 MCAS scores, Sippican Elementary School’s PPI score falls short of its target of 75 by two points. This classifies Sippican Elementary as a Level Two school.
“You’re carrying the weight of the past years into the future,” Frangos said.
She will continue her presentation on PPI at the next meeting of the Committee, when she will discuss the PPI data for each grade level and content area.
Rania Lavranos, Co-Chairman of VASE, sought approval from the Committee for a gift card fundraiser. The fundraiser would allow for community members to purchase gift cards from over 500 popular retailers through Sippican Elementary, which would receive a portion of the sales.
The fundraiser was approved unanimously.
VASE is also seeking new members, particularly parents who would be interested in serving as the Co-Chairmen next year. Those interested in joining VASE may contact the current Co-Chairmen by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s very rewarding,” Lavranos said. “Someone will step up. Someone will do it.”
The Committee also approved the travel destination for the Safety Patrol trip. Parents and students overwhelmingly selected Williamsburg over Philadelphia and New York City. The proposed itinerary includes two days of academic tours and one day of non-academic, which would be conducted at Busch Gardens.
Brad Gordon, Committee Chairman and past Safety Patrol chaperone, spoke highly of the travel company but questioned the itinerary’s inclusion of an amusement park.
Ultimately, the Committee voted to approve the itinerary and defer to the administrators regarding the day trip to Busch Gardens.
Finally, the Committee heard from fourth grade teachers about the grading pilot. This year, the fourth grade teachers are foregoing letter grades in favor of a number system with extensive feedback for students. The hope is that the pilot will foster students’ growth by building one-on-one conversation between teacher and student, as well as ease the transition into the letter grade system.
Overall, the teachers thought well of the grading pilot; however, its true merits will not be measured until the school receives this year’s MCAS growth projectiles and feedback from parents.
In other business:
• The Committee approved an updated Emergency Plan.
• The Committee granted the kindergarten teachers permission to use the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment (an intensive pilot program in which they are participating) in place of the traditional report card assessment.
• Elise Frangos announced a parent-teacher education forum entitled “Understanding Your Pre-Adolescent and Adolescent” to be led by Kathryn Collins on Wednesday, October 24. The free event, open to the public, will begin at 6:00 pm at the ORRJHS library. Collins will discuss eating disorders, self-harm, the physical and social impact of puberty, as well as how parents can support their children with difficult peer relationships.
• Principal Evelyn Rivet asked parents to visit the school’s website and take a survey about the open house procedures. Only 33 parents have taken the survey thus far.
• The Committee voted to accept two donations, one $500 donation in gift cards from the Visiting Nurses Association and one $25,000 cash donation to the Principal’s Account by an anonymous donor.
The next regular meeting of the Marion School Committee will be on Wednesday, November 7 at 6:30 pm at the Town House.
By Anne Smith