School districts across the state had been bracing for a possible dip in test scores, given last school year’s transition from the MCAS to PARCC. But students at Sippican School overall remained steady in their performance on the test, which was a new format for students relative to the test format, online administration, and the increased rigor of the questions.
In Grades 3 through 5 in the Math portion, the already low percentage of students not meeting the standards fell to zero – a point of pride for the Commendation School.
Increase in growth overall was steady although any drop in scores will not be held against the district because this was the piloting of the PARCC exam; however, a rise in performance would benefit the district.
“Our (Math) scores really stack up nicely to other schools that are nearby us,” said Principal Lyn Rivet. “I have great admiration for the job they did.”
Students will take the PARCC exam again this school year, but the state elected this November to devise its own high stakes test considered to be a hybrid between the MCAS and PARCC, which students will take for the first time in 2017. For this “next generation test,” the state, rather than the federal government, will devise the exam and select the questions. The test will continue to be administered online.
“For never having taken the test before … it looks pretty good,” said School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini. “I think that our kids and our teachers should be very proud.”
In other matters, school administration explained the reason behind the November 10 unintended lockdown in the school, citing an accidental code activation of the security system function that announces a lockdown over the loudspeaker.
The school has a newer security system that utilizes a different lockdown system in the event of a threat and subsequently, the older functioning lockdown announcement has been permanently disabled.
Nonetheless, Superintendent Doug White praised the children and teachers for their swift response to the announcement, a good indication that the ALICE protocol has students and staff ready to respond to an emergency.
“There were some great comments on how everyone handled themselves in the situation,” said White.
Rivet expressed gratitude to the police and fire for their rapid response and for the extended time after the incident that they took to reassure students and staff that they were safe.
“They were incredible. They stayed well after they cleared the building to make sure everyone was safe,” Rivet said. “In some ways it was a genuine practice, and I have to say teachers really put into motion what they learned from the ALICE program, and the children…”
Discussion then segued into a proposed new barricade device for Sippican School doors that Facilities Manager Gene Jones introduced to the School Committee for consideration.
The door barricade is an extra lock that slides onto the doorjamb to create a force against opening the door.
“This would just add an extra layer of security,” said Jones. He said they measured the ability of students to unlock the device in the event of a fire or emergency evacuation, and two kindergartners asked to disable the barricade were able to easily remove the metal pin that holds the barricade lock in place.
Jones has passed on information about the device to local fire and police, given the specific safety and fire codes in place. Jones added that the barricade is inexpensive and could easily be purchased within the budget.
“It’s a scary time we live in,” said Marcolini.
Also during the meeting, White asked the committee to consider piloting a school breakfast program at Sippican School after the success of Rochester Memorial School’s new breakfast program.
White said 20 percent of the Sippican School student population now receives free or reduced lunch.
“This may be an opportunity for everyone to get a meal,” said White.
No action was taken, but a plan is in the works to present the committee with a proposal to hold a pilot of the program to gauge its potential success.
“Our population is changing a little bit, and we certainly don’t want little people hungry,” said Marcolini.
The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for January 7 at 6:30 pm at the Marion Town House.
By Jean Perry