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SC Meeting: November 1, 2022

At the November 1 School Committee meeting, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence Awards were presented to two students, the 2022 MCAS results were reviewed, and the Superintendent’s 2022-23 goals were discussed.

Public Comments

One public comment was made by a parent, asking about delaying start times for the middle and high schools.

School Committee Chair and Subcommittee Comments

  • Matt Spengler, Chair, thanked everyone at Town Meeting for their support in approving the additional funding for the Emery Grover project.

  • Michael Greis and Connie Barr reported on their attendance at the recent professional status celebration and congratulated those recipients on their hard work to achieve that status.

  • Michael Greis and Connie Barr reported on their attendance at the distinguished career awards at the high school, recognizing successful Needham High School graduates.

Superintendent Comments

Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence Awards

Dan Gutekanst, Superintendent, presented Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence awards to two high school seniors, Rachel Talcoff and Evan Tsingos. This award is presented to students who have distinguished themselves in the pursuit of excellence during their high school careers.

2022 MCAS Results

Carmen Williams, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Innovation, provided a report on the district’s performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests administered to all students in grades 3-8, and 10. Dr. Williams noted that it has been three years since the last full administration of MCAS and that 10th graders haven’t taken the test since they were in 7th grade.

State trends show:

  • Historically low writing scores

  • No opportunity/achievement gap increases

  • Performance across the board has decreased

  • Chronic absenteeism increased by 138% since 2019

2022 MCAS results are now considered the new baseline moving forward. The complete results can be found in the packet.

Key takeaways from the 2022 results are:

  • Needham Public Schools examines MCAS data in order to continually improve teaching and learning.

  • Similar to other districts around the state, we are in a recovery period in direct response to disrupted learning caused by the global COVID 19 pandemic.

  • Chronic absenteeism and reduced access to quality instruction has a significant impact on student achievement.

  • In grades 3-8, the percentage of students meeting and exceeding expectation is lower that 2019. However, our student growth percentile is higher.

  • In grade 10, our percentage of students meeting and exceeding expectations in ELA is near pre-pandemic levels. Though math student growth percentiles continue to average above the state level, math growth appears to be slowing.

  • At least 50 interventions have been implemented and reviewed in the last 2.5 years to support recovery efforts.

School Committee members voiced some questions and observations, including a reminder that right now, we are measuring access and opportunity rather than actual learning. The problem of absenteeism needs to be addressed. Dr. Williams would like to involve students themselves in addressing this social justice issue. She also reminded the School Committee that MCAS is necessary as it is required by the state, but that it is only one piece of data that can be used as a tool to help each individual student.

Superintendent’s 2022-2023 Goals

Dr. Gutekanst will address the following six goals this academic year:

  • In a minimum of eight administrative and community meetings, he will coordinate and facilitate the development and use of data to inform instruction, assess family engagement, and plan for student, staff, and school needs.

  • In a minimum of six administrative and community meetings, he will highlight the implementation of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate strategic priorities and action steps.

  • He will ensure School Principals demonstrate progress toward achieving their School Improvement Plans to a) emphasize inclusive and equitable school communities and b) address disproportionate academic, attendance, and discipline outcomes among all students, especially students most impacted by historical learning gaps.

  • In a minimum of ten meetings, he will promote active communication and engagement with family and community groups to ensure equitable, safe, healthy, and academically rigorous school and learning environments.

  • He will facilitate and coordinate successful planning for the District’s Facilities Master Plan and School Administration building and renovation projects.

  • He will support successful collective bargaining and negotiations with the Needham Education Association’s Units C (Teaching Assistants), D (Clerical & Technical Staff) and E (Nutrition Service Workers).

Michael Greis encouraged him to also include addressing more professional development for staff.

School Committee Comments

  • Mike O’Brien praised the cast and crew of The Addams Family for a fantastic show last weekend and reminded everyone that Needham Community Theater is presenting Shrek the Musical on 11/18, 11/19, 11/20, 11/26, and 11/27.

  • Michael Greis reminded everyone that the next performance in the Great Hall concert series is on November 5th when pianist Peter Cincotti performs.

  • Alisa Skatrud reminded everyone that the Needham Diversity Summit will take place on Sunday, November 6.

The next School Committee meeting is November 15, 2022 at 6:30pm.


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