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SC Meeting: February 25, 2020

The February 25th School Committee meeting included an updates from the NHS Adbsory to SC and presentation off Winter NEF grants.

School Committee Comments

  • Medway has joined The Education Collaborative (TEC), which will broaden and strength the programs offered for special education students.

Superintendent's comments

  • The next SC meeting will take place March 10, 6:00pm at Jeremiah Burke High School, Dorchester. It will not be broadcast live, but will be available to view online.

  • The recent Boston Globe editorial on school safety drills was discussed. Dr. G felt the reporting was not entirely accurate. Dr. G and Chief Schlittler submitted a response which was printed in the Globe.

  • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) completed the Tiered Focus Monitoring Audit (which takes place once every 3 years) focused on Special Education and civil rights. The review concluded with no findings for Needham which is significant and impressive.

Needham Education Foundation (NEF) Winter Grant Awards

NEF Board members Lindsay Gravin and Rob Murphy presented 10 grants totalling $34,296. Highlighted grants included:

  • A grant written by NHS Interdisciplinary Learning Specialist Jimmy Odierna will provide professional development for 35 middle and high school teachers. They will participate in a three-day Project Based Learning (PBL) workshop, where they will design a project to implement in their own classroom and learn skills and strategies to design and implement additional PBL activities in the future.

  • High Rock teacher Christopher Dancy will participate in Cornell’s four-course online Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, which will provide training to support more inclusive practices to benefit both students and staff at the school.

  • Math puzzles for Mitchell students in grades 1-5 will support a deeper understanding of concepts for all students, including ELL and other high-needs learners.

  • An accessible three-wheeled bike will be available for students for whom a two-wheeled bike either is not safe or inaccessible in order to participate in the third grade “bike rodeo” at all five elementary schools.

A full list grants can be found on the NEF website. The School Committee unanimously accepted the slate of grants.

Needham High School School Improvement Plan

NHS Principal Aaron Sicotte and student Lucy Rufo presented highlights from the NHS School Improvement Plan, which aligns with Portrait of a Needham Graduate. The SIP is now structured on a 5-year timeline and consists of nine different goals interconnected with 21 specific action steps aiming to shape a student’s whole Needham High School experience. Details can be found in the meeting packet.

Areas of focus that encompass nine goal areas:

  • Provide a safe, supportive and engaging learning environment.

  • Connected, relevant learning incorporating both integrated and interdisciplinary learning.

  • Focus on communication and opportunities

Nine goal areas:

  1. Provide students and staff the social-emotional learning (SEL) skills needed to be emotionally healthy and successful

  2. Embed culturally responsive teaching (CRT) practices into all classes and offices

  3. Incorporate universal design for learning (UDL) into all classes

  4. Embed an explicit teaching of interdisciplinary learning skills in all classes through NHS

  5. Consistently integrate subject matter across disciplines and classes to deepen students’ learning.

  6. Increase the opportunities students have to display their learning through project-based assessments and authentic assessments

  7. Update our grade reporting processes to allow for communication about students’ progress on SEL and interdisciplinary skills

  8. Use the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model to guide technology use within all classes

  9. Create a schedule that optimizes learning opportunities for all students

Questions & Comments:

  • How do we move towards authentic assessment vs. just grades? Project-based learning and assessments exist in some classes, but are not consistent throughout the school. Traditional grades necessary for college application, shift will be to include additional assessment.

  • How does the one-to-one technology impact the school? Google classroom used in almost all classes, very useful, though varies by class and teacher. Next year ALL students will have a device. Technology can be used both a substitute for existing tools (ex: note-taking) and add new experiences (ex: virtual reality)

  • Teacher collaboration time is important for moving goals forward. Can students also be a part of the work? Yes, this has already happened through Greater Boston Project.

Student Growth and Achievement Report

There are many measures of achievement, not just grades and scores. Detailed information can be found in the meeting packet.

Standardized Tests (past five years):

  • SAT Scores are up +30 points

  • Science ACT scores +2, Math and ELA also above national average

  • Increase in total AP tests taken, high percentage achieving 3 or higher (qualifying score)

  • Seal of Biliteracy (STAMP): In first year offered,106 students participated. 34% achieved the SEAL of distinction which will appear on their diploma

Additional Achievements:

  • Performing Arts

  • 12 Scholastic Art Awards

  • NHS Quiz Team

  • Poetry Out Loud — every student participated this year

Student Activism:

  • SALSA (Students Advocating for Life free of Substance Abuse) recognized by Norfolk District Attorney

  • SAFE (Students Advocating for Equity)

  • Courageous Conversation on Race (CCOR) leading 9th grade discussions

  • Fundraising by Best Buddies & Students Acting to Make a difference (SAMD)

  • White Ribbon campaign modeled on national campaign around gender-based violence

  • Jewish Student Union Blue Unity Day

Questions & Comments:

  • Are we examining and closing demographic gaps in AP classes? Yes, higher level classes are over-represented with white and Asian students, work needs to be done. Also addressing gender and other gaps.

  • Importance of recognizing achievement in non-academic areas

  • Over 140 clubs at the high school intended to create connections and have impacts beyond classroom.

  • NHS achievement is culmination of full NPS experience

  • Can future report highlight breadth of offerings and courses taken

Action Items

The following items were approved unanimously:

  1. Unit B Memorandum of Agreement

  2. Approve and Rescind School Policies (see packet for details)

  3. Student Trip to Senegal, West Africa in April 2021


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