Wednesday, December 16, 2015

WRSD will continue with MCAS

Last Monday evening, I discussed with the School Committee the reasons for my decision to recommend that the WRSD remain with MCAS rather than moving to PARCC. Much of my conversation was based upon the feedback that I received from building administrators, our teachers union, discussions with superintendents from other districts, and research and reading I have done concerning MCAS v. PARCC.  Although there are some benefits in moving to PARCC, such as being "held harmless" in terms of accountability level or the fact that the new MCAS 2.0 will be more PARCC​-​like, I feel that staying with MCAS is in the best interest of the District at this time.

When deliberating on this issue, I took into account the fact that if we move to PARCC this year, we will be asking our students to take three different assessments over the next three assessment cycles. Another reason for my decision is that the decision made by the Board of Education comes at a very late date and I do not think that we have enough time to adequately prepare teachers and students for the move to this new assessment. Finally, we have been told that there will be MCAS questions on the assessment this spring that are more PARCC​-​like. If Commissioner Chester and the Board of Education believed that PARCC was the best assessment tool for our students, they would have made the directive that all schools would move to PARCC this year. Since both the Commissioner and the BOE support the move to a new assessment in 2017, I feel that having our students take an assessment that is not supported by DESE and the BOE does not make sense.

I look forward to learning more about the next assessment, MCAS 2.0, and will share any information I have with our community. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter weather

Even though we have had unexpectedly warm conditions over the past several weeks, we all know that winter will be upon us soon.  With this in mind, I want to remind everyone that school delays and cancellations are issues that we in New England must live with every year.  Last year, we dealt with one of the worst winters in memory so we all want to be prepared.  The decision to cancel or delay school is one that I take seriously as dangerous driving conditions are a constant issue for schools who transport students.   A decision to cancel school usually takes place by 5:15 am in order to give the bus company time to reach out to their drivers and a SchoolMessenger call will be made soon thereafter.  A two-hour delay occurs during the same time frame.  We average several delays and/or cancellations every year.  Last winter the District had 6 cancellations and 4 delays during a fairly short amount of time when our region was hit with over 100 inches of snow.  Let's hope this winter is a bit more typical than last!