We got some good news from the School Department last week! Here is their official press release.
Superintendent Cyndy Taymore is pleased to report that the Horace Mann School, which was designated for Level 3 status after the 2014 MCAS results—and had been slated to remain at Level 3 after the 2015 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment—has been upgraded to Level 2 status following a re-review of the criteria by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“This revision reflects the extraordinary effort put forward by the entire faculty and staff of the Horace Mann School,” Superintendent Taymore said. “We are grateful to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for recognizing this work and allowing the school’s ranking to reflect that.”
Schools statewide are classified into levels 1 through 5. Those that met their gap-narrowing goals were designated as a level 1 and those that require additional assistance were placed in levels 3, 4, and 5. Looking broadly, this has been an excellent year for Melrose Public Schools.
In a letter to Superintendent Taymore, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education clarified the findings, saying: “This fall we received an appeal from another district on behalf of its Level 3 focus school that led us to reexamine and revise our focus school exit criteria.”
The state’s reexamination indicated that the Horace Mann School did indeed meet the criteria for exiting Level 3 status, which has ripple effect benefits across the district.
Superintendent Taymore and Horace Mann Principal Mary Ellen Cobbs specifically would like to highlight the following actions that aided in the school’s improvement:
- The school partnered with the North District and School Assistance Center and received grant to hire an Instructional Coach.
- Staff reviewed and modified scheduling practices, improving students’ access to the General Education Curriculum, something that was previously earmarked as a concern.
- Teachers increased the frequency of math and literacy data meetings for high needs students and faculty and staff met regularly to assess how well students were progressing toward specific benchmarks. This practice has since been duplicated in other Melrose Elementary Schools as a result of its success at Horace Mann.
- The school increased the supervision of how well teachers paced students through the year’s expected lesson plans, after the exam results indicated that students in different classrooms were ending the year at earlier points in the curriculum than others. As a result, by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, all teachers completed the curriculum and extra “step up” units that previewed the following years’ content.
- A school-wide incentive to increase use of online math and literacy programs was initiated, and an after school math club and a before school science club were made available.
- The culture of the school has also been changed. In April, a team of teachers began the framework for the new Positive Behavior Intervention System. This includes a commitment to include multiple lessons per month that address issues like empathy, respect, responsibility, bullying and safety.
“These high impact, coordinated efforts that placed us as a Level 2 school would not have been possible without the dedicated teachers and staff who committed themselves to adjusting practices, taking risks, and coming back time and time again to ensure the school is always moving forward,” Principal Cobbs said. “I’m so proud of the entire staff and congratulate them on this accomplishment.”
The district will participate in PARCC again this year. It is expected that a new exam, MCAS 2.0, will be implemented by the state in 2017.