Melrose School District Receives Regional DESE Grant to Further SEEM Collaborative Work

Melrose Public Schools
Superintendent Cyndy S. Taymore
360 Lynn Fells Parkway
Melrose , MA 02176

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Melrose School District Receives Regional DESE Grant to Further SEEM Collaborative Work

MELROSE — Superintendent Cyndy Taymore is pleased to announce that Melrose Public Schools has received a portion of a nearly $90,000 grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to improve student learning through the SEEM Collaborative.

The SEEM Collaborative is a 10-member organization that formed in 1986 to provide quality education to school districts and strengthen existing school programs and services that would otherwise not be accessible or affordable to local districts on their own.

Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington and Woburn applied for the DESE grant as a consortium, and will receive $88,900 to be allocated over a two-year period beginning in 2018.

The grant money will support each district’s work on improving inclusive practices. This includes providing identified teachers, administrators and members of child study teams with targeted professional development, coaching in Universal Design for Learning — a framework designed to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how we learn — and inclusive practices that support the achievement of all students.

“As the Melrose Public Schools strives to provide quality education for our students, it is imperative that our faculty continuously refine their skills for inclusive and engaging instructional practices that provide all students with opportunities to succeed,” Superintendent Taymore said. “We’re thankful that DESE awarded the SEEM Collaborative with this grant allocation so we can continue to provide the best services for all learners.”

Melrose Public Schools will also work to:
• Examine and question resource allocation in more depth, using data available in districts along with tools provided by DESE, particularly new Resource Allocation and District Action Reports.
• Make meaningful changes in resource allocation to support best practices and district improvement strategies.
• Measure the impact of resource shifts on the desired outcomes. Melrose schools will be paired with an action research consultant who will help gather data, measure impact and report results.

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Greater Lawrence Tech Maintains Level 1 Status Following Release of MCAS Results

Greater Lawrence Technical School
Superintendent John Lavoie
57 River Rd, Andover,
MA 01810

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Greater Lawrence Tech Maintains Level 1 Status Following Release of MCAS Results

ANDOVER — Superintendent John Lavoie is pleased to announce that Greater Lawrence Technical School, for the fourth year in a row, attained Level 1 school status from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) following the release of MCAS results.

DESE announced the following MCAS scores for GLTS’ Class of 2019:

English – 99 percent passed (18 percent at advanced, 72 proficient, 9 percent needs improvement, 1 percent failing)
Math – 94 percent passed (36 percent advanced, 40 percent proficient, 18 percent needs improvement, 6 percent failing)
Biology – 95 percent passed (10 percent advanced, 53 percent proficient, 31 percent needs improvement, 5 percent failing)

On the English portion of the exam, GLTS students have a higher than average growth rate from 2016 to 2017 compared to the state average. GLTS also saw a 2 percent decrease in students grouped in the failing category than in 2016.

For math, from 2016-2017, there was a 15 percent increase in the number of students scoring in proficient, a 5 percent increase in advanced and a five percent reduction in the failure rate.

In biology, there was a 4 percent increase of students scoring in the advanced category and a 2 percent decrease of those in the failing category from last year to this year.

Across all subjects, English language learners and students with developmental disabilities performed higher than the state average.

“Everyone here at GLTS is extremely excited to once again have earned this status from DESE,” Superintendent Lavoie said. “This achievement is the direct result of the collaborative effort of academic and vocational instructors that work together every day to improve student performance.”

GLTS earned its Level 1 status in 2014 following a three-year instructor-led literacy initiative that trained all teachers in reading, vocabulary and writing strategies. During this period, the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) was also revitalized. This collaborative group of teachers and administrators established school-wide expectations for curriculum and lesson planning that continue to improve instruction across the GLTS’ academic and career areas.

Additionally, in 2014, the ILT invited Research for Better Teaching — an organization dedicated to improving classroom teaching and school leadership — to GLTS to train teacher leaders in their Formative Assessment for Results (FAR) program. This program works to support teams of instructors, who are teaching the same content, to work together, plan lessons and curriculum, analyze student data and improve instruction based on that data.

Over the past few years, the ILT has also created a new set of core values — growth mindset, high expectations, supportive environment and life-long learning — along with a new vision and mission that guides the administration, teachers, staff and students in their everyday activities.

“I firmly believe that our Literacy Initiative, the work teacher teams have done with the FAR program and our comprehensive focus on our core values has made all the difference in our student achievement, reducing our dropout rate and increasing our graduation rate,” said Assistant Superintendent-Director/Principal Elizabeth Freedman. “In order for students to flourish, we need to believe in, support and empower teachers. That’s what we’ve tried to do, and it’s working.”

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Whittier Tech Achieves Level 1 School Status Following Release of MCAS Results

Maureen Lynch, Superintendent
115 Amesbury Line Road
Haverhill, MA 01830

For Immediate Release

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017

Contact: Jessica Sacco
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: jessica@jgpr.net

Whittier Tech Achieves Level 1 School Status Following Release of MCAS Results

100 Percent of Students Pass English, 98 Percent Pass Math and 94 Percent Pass Science and Technology

HAVERHILL – Superintendent Maureen Lynch is pleased to announce that Whittier Tech has attained Level 1 school status from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) following the release of MCAS results yesterday.

DESE announced the following MCAS scores for Whittier Tech’s Class of 2019:

• English: 100 percent passed – 30 percent advanced, 65 percent proficient, 5 percent needs improvement.
• Math: 98 percent passed — 46 percent advanced, 39 percent proficient, 13 percent needs improvement, 2 percent failing.
• Science and Technology: 94 percent passed – 28 percent proficient, 51 percent proficient, 15 percent  needs improvement, 6 percent failing.

“We are thrilled,” Superintendent Lynch said. “I’m honored to be the superintendent of a Level 1 district where everyone works so hard to ensure success of our students. With our Early College Program and one-to-one iPad instruction for every student, we are really moving our students forward in significant ways on the academic side, and continue to offer a top-notch vocational-technical education that leads students straight to promising careers.”

On the English test, there was a 2 percent increase from last year in the advanced and proficient categories. In math, there was a 5 percent increase, while science and technology saw a 3 percent increase.

Whittier moved from a Level 1 to a Level 2 school in 2015 and 2016 due to not meeting target growth standards set by the state for high needs, disabled and Hispanic students in English, math and science.

Today, Whittier has met all of the performance benchmarks set by DESE, and is one of only 70 districts out of 383 in the state to achieve Level 1 status. Beginning with the spring 2012 results, districts and schools are measured with the Progress and Performance Index. Whittier has met the PPI target for all of its students, earning it the Level 1 rating.

Scores have climbed steadily for Whittier since the MCAS was first implemented as a graduation requirement in 2003. For example, in the past five years, the number of Whittier students who have scored at the advanced level in English Language Arts has jumped from 9 to 30 percent. Ten years ago, DESE had Whittier on “watch” status for its low test scores.

To ensure the success of every student at Whittier, teachers meet weekly in Professional Learning Communities to integrate technology in lesson plans, instructional strategies and common assessments to measure student progress in the subjects and grade levels they teach.

As a result, Whittier students have made noteworthy improvements from their seventh grade MCAS scores. The average growth rate from their English MCAS scores from seventh to 10th grade was 51 percent. In math, the growth rate was 56 percent.

Tenth grade students took all three tests as sophomores in March, May and June of 2017 and will receive their official results in the mail. Those who did not pass the math or science and technology sections will retake the tests during the school year. Whittier has enjoyed a 10-year stretch during which 100 percent of its students passed all sections of the MCAS test by graduation day.

About Whittier Tech:

The regional school educates 1,300 students from 13 cities and towns – Haverhill, Amesbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Ipswich, Georgetown, Newbury, West Newbury and Groveland.

Its Open House for eighth grade students and their parents is Nov. 5, 1-4 p.m., at the school, 115 Amesbury Line Road. For more information or to apply online, go to whittiertech.org

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Statement of Avon Superintendent of Schools Paul Zinni Regarding Follow-up Actions after May 1 Incident

Avon Public Schools
Paul Zinni, Superintendent
1 Patrick Clark Drive
Avon, MA 02322

For Immediate Release

Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Statement of Avon Superintendent of Schools Paul Zinni Regarding Follow-up Actions after May 1 Incident

Staff to be Trained on State Reporting Procedures, District will Continue Work Toward Improved Communications

AVON — Superintendent of Schools Paul Zinni is today providing an update to students, faculty, staff and community members regarding actions taken by the school district after a knife was discovered in a student’s backpack.

In summary, when the staff returns on Aug. 28, the district will begin retraining its employees on the state legal requirement to notify the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families about any such incidents, and the Avon Public Schools will be implementing new notification and press release procedures in the coming school year.

On May 1, school administrators at Avon Middle High School searched the backpack of a middle school student and found a knife. While the school department notified the Avon Police Department promptly, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sent the district a letter over the summer indicating that its review of this situation found that the Avon Public Schools is required by law to notify the Department of Children and Families after any incident involving a child with weapon in their possession.

Working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Avon Public Schools has revised its training curriculum for all faculty and staff and will notify all employees regarding this legal requirement at the start of the new school year on Aug. 28. The memo will also be sent to DESE, and once it is received and reviewed, the matter will be considered closed.

In the district’s correspondence with DESE, the state department also reminded the Town of Avon that it is required to designate a school resource officer. Superintendent Zinni worked with the Avon Police Department to secure this position and looks forward to announcing the individual chosen as soon as the Avon Police Department has filled that position.

For the coming school year, the Avon Public Schools is also seeking to implement a new notification policy. If ever there is an incident at a school that draws the interest of the public, the School District will send an immediate notification home to families detailing — within the boundaries set by law — what occurred and what actions are being taken.

Said Superintendent Zinni: “I understand that there is a tremendous desire for information, especially when it involves something potentially dangerous like a weapon being brought to school. However, state and federal law are clear in what we can and cannot say.

“With that in mind, I am aware that rumor and false information thrives in the absence of facts. The May 1 incident should have been reported to the Department of Children and Families, and DESE has given us guidance on this matter. We will continue to notify parents of these issues as soon as possible, and we are implementing a new communications plan to further improve our relationship with residents.

“I apologize for our failure to notify the proper state agency and I will continue to work toward positive and active communication with the community going forward###