As Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Doug White and Assistant Superintendent Elsie Frangos make their rounds through the Tri-Town local school committees, their message is one of encouragement and progress as all schools embrace the newest version of standards testing: Next-Gen MCAS.
After two years of working with another testing protocol known as PARCC, the state returned to the MCAS model; that is, an updated model that emphasizes math, science and English Language Arts to a higher level.
White said that while MCAS testing is primarily performed through computer-based technologies, some students will still be using ‘paper and pencils’ pending a complete roll-out. He said that by spring 2018 all aspects of the program would be completed using computers. White touched on the test materials themselves before asking Frangos to elaborate.
Frangos said MCAS 2.0 was a “more rigorous recalibrated test” that distinguishes itself by focusing on “real world applications” in math, science, and ELA. She said the updated test and associated scoring methodology would establish students’ ultimate readiness for either college or success in the workplace.
Parents will receive letters regarding changes that may have an impact on students’ scores, reiterating several times the “rigorous” nature of the testing.
Frangos said students would either be “crossing over the river,” of that 500 point midpoint in scoring, or that students, teachers, and parents would work together to ensure students could do so.
“Parents may find that students were close but not quite there,” Frangos stated when discussing the scoring rubric of the tests. She said, “Five hundred points is the middle,” but added that a number of students will most likely score just below that mark.
“There will be help for students and teachers to help them reach the goals,” Frangos assured the committee members.
Frangos congratulated Mattapoisett local schools saying, “Mattapoisett won the Pentathlon.” She said, “The hard work of the students and teachers, as well as administrators on implementing state-of-the-art curriculums all leads to incredible success.” MCAS scores will be mailed to parents beginning November 1.
On the theme of students successfully accomplishing course work, White said that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has now adopted the Obama Administration’s tenets of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” that was rolled out in 2015 replacing No Child Left Behind that had debuted during the Bush years. He said ESSA would establish “levels of accountability,” while “supporting students where they are and building on those skills.”
Frangos shared that the five-year strategic plan that will begin in January 2018 will focus on social and emotional issues, looking at how the schools support each student’s needs and development, as well as celebrating diversity.
Mattapoisett schools’ Principal Rose Bowman said the recently held Title I Breakfast facilitated by educators Margaret DeMello and Linda Arurui had been a great success. She also discussed the “incredible” turn out and response from parents during the parent-teacher conferences that were held. She said there were discussions around the new standards-based reporting system and that report cards would be going out on December 6.
A Literacy Night with pizza and beverages is planned for November 8 that will include a book fair at the two schools, Bowman said, and on November 10 at 11:00 am in the Old Hammondtown auditorium, the Veteran’s Day Celebration will be held with music students from OHS performing.
Mattapoisett School Committee Chairman Rachel Westgate said that the Tri-Town Education Foundation would be receiving renewed focus with an unveiling of a new logo for the Lighthouse Foundation and slogan “Lighting the way for education…” She said that students would be taking home information on the grant-based program at Thanksgiving time and that she hoped community members would use this program during the holidays as a way to honor family and friends through a donation.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett School Committee is scheduled for December 11 at 6:30 pm in the Center School cafeteria.
Mattapoisett School Committee
By Marilou Newell