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SC Meeting: November 19, 2019

The November 19 SC meeting included the announcement of NEF Fall Grant Awards and the 2019 MCAS results, plus a visit by the state-champion Varsity Girls Volleyball team.

Superintendent Updates

  • Dr. Gutekanst joined approximately 400 8th grade students in their trip to Washington DC. The students participated in a ceremony on the eve of Veteran’s Day where they presented a blue and gold wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cementery, VA. The students have a great opportunity to learn firsthand about history, leadership, and citizenship.

  • Members of the Girls Varsity Volleyball team were in attendance. The Volleyball team have had a stellar season. They won the first state championship in the history of Needham and held a record of 21 wins and 0 losses while only dropping 9 sets in total throughout the year. Dr. Gutekanst congratulated them on their victory and recognized their positive energy, dedication, and sportsmanship.

Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence

Superintendent Gutekanst presented the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence to Eric Xu and Anne Kiely, NHS Seniors for their academic achievement and community service.

2019 Needham Education Foundation (NEF) Fall Grant Awards

NEF Board Members and Grants Committee Co-Chairs Robert Murphy and Christopher Lee presented the 2019 NEF Fall Grant Awards. Twelve grants were awarded to schools across the district for a total of $50,102.

  • Pollard 8th graders will learn the story of Deborah Sampson, the first woman to enlist, fight, and be honorably discharged from the American Military, through four performances of "A Revolution of Her Own!"  

  • Jen Deaderick, graphic novel author of "She the People," will host a series of workshops at the Needham High School’s One Day program. 

  • Cooking For Kids, a weekly cooking activity, will teach life skills to students in substantially separate early learning classrooms at Sunita Williams. 

  • Sensory Pathways at Eliot and Mitchell will allow students to take movement breaks using academic visuals to release energy and sensory build up. 

  • Vox Books — hardcover books with an integrated audio recording — will be added in Broadmeadow, Eliot and Newman libraries to help emergent and reluctant readers.

  • Pedometers will be used in each second grade classroom at Broadmeadow to reinforce math concepts such as graphing and place value, and to better understand real-life distances in geography units.

  • Students and teachers at High Rock will develop the tools to practice mindfulness independently in 60 classroom workshops with a mindfulness educator.

  • An artist-in-residency program "Your Voice Matters. What's Your Story?" at the High School will foster community and facilitate conversations around empathy and equity. In addition to conducting a workshop on NHS’s One Day, the artists will provide professional development for art teachers, a master class to produce a permanent student mural, and a guided tour at the Museum of Fine Arts. They will also collaborate with art students to create an exhibition in a new gallery space in the high school.

  • All K-5 math coaches and grade 6-12 math teachers will deepen their understanding of mathematical play and learn how to implement it in their classrooms through a professional development workshop with Sunil Singh, co-author of “Math Recess,” a book which emphasizes learning mathematics through play and as a means to provide equity to all students. 

  • To assist in the development of new STEAM curriculum, five elementary STEAM teachers will attend the National Science Teachers of America conference in Boston to share ideas with peers from around the country and learn from best practices.

  • Four elementary visual arts teachers will attend the National Arts Education Association conference to bring back ideas for building the kindergarten arts curriculum and strategies for inclusivity and representation in the art room.

2019 MCAS Results

Terry Dugan, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning reported on 2019 MCAS Results:

1. Next Generation MCAS Assessments

  • Third administration of new assessments in grades 3 through 8 (ELA & Math)

  • First administration of new assessments in grade 10 (ELA & Math)

  • Administered online grade 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10; first time for grades 3, 6, and 10

  • New science MCAS assessments were administered to students for grade 5 to 8

  • Scores nomenclature has been standardized to use the achievement levels of Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Warning/Failing

  • Legacy MCAS assessments (paper based) were administered to students in high school.

2. Achievement Levels

  • Exceeding Expectations: 530-560

  • Meetings Expectations: 500-529

  • Partially Meeting Expectations: 470-499

  • Not Meeting Expectations: 440-469

In the three years the test has been administered there has been an upward trend across all student groups. For instance, in reviewing the scores for English, Language and Arts (ELA) for grades 3 to 8 results show 76% of all students are meeting or exceeding expectations, while 21% of all students are partially meeting expectations. When reviewing math scores for grades 3 to 8, results indicate 73% of all students are meeting or exceeding expectations, while 24% of all students are partially meeting expectations.

3. Accountability System

Assistant Superintendent Dugan discussed the criteria by which each school in the District is held accountable for achieving several performance indicators, from student growth to advanced coursework completion. Pollard was named a “School of Recognition” by the state. Pollard’s overall performance is better than 97% of other similar schools across the state. Hillside was also named a “School of Recognition” as their overall performance was better than 94% of other similar schools across the state.

4. Comparable Communities

Needham students for grades 3 through 8 are tied for 7th place in ELA and tied for 9th place in math among 20 comparable communities, with 76% and 73% of students meeting or exceeding expectations in ELA and Math respectively. At grade 10, Needham students are tied for 8th place for ELA and tied for 4th place in Math among 20 comparable communities in the Commonwealth. Overall accountability ratings at the State level: Needham tied for 5th place in meeting or exceeding its accountability target.

Action Items:

SC unanimously approved the FY20 revised revolving funds which includes fees for World Language exams for students who would like to pursue the seal of biliteracy.


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