MCAS Makes for Teachable Moments in Norwell

Norwell Schools Analyze MCAS Scores

Interesting article titled, “MCAS: Drilling Down Into Numbers” in the Norwell Mariner this week. Talks about how the Norwell Schools utilize the data collected from the results of the MCAS scores to determine the concepts that require more attention in the classroom as well as the ones that the students have grasped well.

Targeting Curriculum Weakness In Norwell

While most attention turns to the overall scores across the state, Norwell School administrators and teachers study the responses of each student tested by MCAS. This evaluation of individual results provides a platform for conversation about how well each child is learning and what areas of study can be improved. Based on the most recent scores, administrators and teachers were able to pinpoint a mathematical plotting concept that was misunderstood by several young students. Faculty of Norwell Schools can now use the test results as a truly “teachable moment” to articulate the lesson to the students and fine-tune the lesson plan for the next crop of students.

Norwell Scores Overall

Norwell continues to rank high in its MCAS scores. The article highlights some of the statistics from the recent results:

  • According to figures provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education, 90% of all Norwell students scored at either the advanced or proficient levels when it came to English
  • 81% of those same students scored at either the advanced or proficient levels for math
  • 36% of 1,366 Norwell students tested scored at the advanced level for English followed by 54% at the proficient level, 8% at the needs improvement level and 1% at the warning/failing level.
  • In math, 1,362 Norwell students took the test and the overall results are as follows: 40% advanced; 41% proficient; 16% needs improvement; and 3% warning/failing.
  • On the grade 10 science exam, 178 Norwell students took the test. Of that group, 19% scored advanced, 67% scored proficient, 13% scored needs improvement, and 1% scored warning/failing.

Norwell School Budget Faces “Critical” Concern

Norwell Schools Facing Challenges

The Norwell School Department is outlining the needs for fiscal year 2013 and setting priorities early on so that parents and residents can discuss the many challenges the town’s education system is facing. The school budget has been a controversial topic for decades, but the Norwell School Committee is underscoring the urgency of current school needs, calling 2013 priorities “must-haves,” not a “wish list.” Norwell School Superintendent Dr. Donald Beaudette met with members of the Norwell School Committee, the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Board on Wednesday, September 14 for a preliminary discussion of the fiscal year 2013 budget. The cuts in spending are catching up to Norwell Public School system, leaving residents to decide what they are willing to spend for the quality of Norwell Schools.

NorwellOvercrowding at Norwell Elementary Schools

According to the Norwell School Committee, over the past few years Norwell elementary schools, William G. Vinal School and Grace F. Cole School, have seen a rise in student enrollment, as well as cuts in teacher spending. The budget hasn’t allowed the school to replace positions left from retired teachers, leaving classrooms to consolidate. Class sizes are big, often more than 25 students, sometimes over 30, as the school curriculum transitions from MCAS mandates to federally-mandated national standards known as Common Core. According to the Norwell School Committee, 95% off the school districts in Massachusetts have a better student-to-teacher ratio than Norwell. School enrollment has grown by almost 20%, an additional 320 students in Norwell’s schools, while teacher and staff numbers have not changed due to budget constraints. With the development of new homes such as the Wildcat Hill development with 46 new residences, teachers, parents and students are facing an even greater jump in enrollment in the Cole School district in the coming years.

 

NorwellCritical Point for Norwell Middle and High School

According to the Norwell School Committee, while Norwell Middle School and Norwell High School are dealing with the same problem of a growing student population, the issue cannot be resolved with larger class sizes. The solution would be to add teachers and sections to accommodate the number of students taking the subject. The limited of number of sections available currently leaves students to fill their schedules with studies. The elimination or non-renewal of teacher positions equates to the removal of a subject offering for students. Based on the resource planning report submitted by the Norwell School Committee, an additional 20 FTEs (full-time equivalent) will be needed for fiscal year ’13, which comes at an estimated cost of $1,160,000. They consider these positions “a must-have if you want to offer the same level of service we offer at our schools.” Without adding more teachers and sections for students, the Norwell school system may have to reduce graduation requirements for Norwell High School, which currently requires four years of mathematics, science and social studies, in addition to four years of English, plus three years of foreign language. A reduction in high school requirements in Norwell could have serious implications for students applying to college.

 A Decline in Spending in Norwell Schools

Norwell has limited school spending over the last few years. According to the Department of Revenue, in 2000, 58% of the Norwell town budget was spent on the school operating budget. In 2010, Norwell spent 49% on the school operating budget. Norwell’s per pupil spending is in the bottom quarter of the state, $2,200 per student less than the state average. A decade ago Norwell was in the top quarter. The spending on student education in Norwell has decreased, MCAS numbers have slipped a bit, as well as Norwell’s ranking in state school districts.

The Relationship Between Norwell Real Estate and Norwell Schools

Norwell attracts home buyers because of its reputation as a great family community with an excellent school system. Norwell has some of the best teachers in the state and dedicated principals. But, without an adequate school budget and resources it will be more and more difficult, until finally impossible to maintain a quality level of education. And the quality of Norwell’s school system is closely related to Norwell’s real estate market and home prices. Simply put, Norwell home values and real estate activity depend on the school system.

Next Steps for Norwell Residents

Norwell residents are urged to take a look at Norwell school budget concerns and learn more about the challenges facing Norwell Public Schools. Residents are invited to attend a public education forum titled, “Tomorrow’s Schools Today” on Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Norwell Middle School Cafetorium. Open to all Norwell residents, the evening is designed to offer insight into the state of the Norwell Public Schools today and the goals for tomorrow.

Norwell Residents Invited to Public Education Forum

NorwellNorwell Public Schools hosting a public education forum

The forum titled, “Tomorrow’s Schools Today” on Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Norwell Middle School Cafetorium. Open to all Norwell residents the evening is designed to offer insight into the state of the Norwell Public Schools today and the goals for tomorrow. For those looking to sell or buy a home in Norwell, the conversation will be particularly important as home prices and sales depend so much on education and the school system in Norwell.

Norwell Schools: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Presented by the Norwell School Committee and Leadership Team the discussion will focus on what’s happening in today’s Norwell Public Schools. While the core establishments of school such as a teacher-led classroom, science projects, math tests, and essays have stayed the same, today’s classrooms, curriculum and expectations are vastly different from forty, thirty, twenty, even just ten years ago.

Reading, equations and other complex content and skills are designed to be mastered at an earlier age and are tested by state and federally mandated exams. With the advent of technology, there are other tools and resources that change the dynamic of how students learn. Expectations are high for both students and teachers. Curriculum has become more advanced while the focus has increasing turned to addressing the needs of each individual student to ensure that the entire class of twenty, twenty-five, sometimes thirty students is “getting” the concept.

Take A Peak Under The Hood With Inside Look at Norwell Schools

Fortunately Norwell’s approach to education is working. Massachusetts ranks high for public schools nationally and Norwell ranks high among the towns in Massachusetts. In fact Norwell Schools compare favorably to highest ranking countries such as Singapore, Korea, and Finland. But the scores and rank are not accidental. Norwell residents are invited to see how the town is moving forward to continue to achieve these results. Attend the public education forum and “peak under the hood” of our schools. Experience what it’s like to sit in an elementary, middle and high school classroom, and participate in lessons, and maybe even take a quiz!

Engage, Converse and Give Your Opinion About the Norwell Public Schools

Attendees will also have the opportunity to share their views on how we can help all students meet 21st Century Learning Expectations.  Engage in a conversation about how the schools are performing, preparing students for the future, and resources. Your opinion matters and the Norwell School Committee is interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts. The Public Education Forum on October 6 will be the first of several opportunities this year for the community and School Committee to engage in open, two-way communication about our joint effort to provide 21st Century Schools for Our 21st Century Students.

For more information about the Public Education Forum on October 6 please visit the Norwell Schools web site.

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