From the Principal's Desk - February 12th, 2016



From the Principal's Desk
I want to share with you a recent communication regarding progress reports  from my colleague Mark Chitty, Principal of the Peirce School.  Mr. Chitty served on the committee which designed our current reporting system.  I hope this helps to clarify the structure and intent of this report.
 In this season of mid-year progress reports, we are all taking a close look at how children are performing relative to our grade-level benchmarks. Parents have reviewed reports indicating that children have either reached benchmarks ("3") or are working toward them ("2" or "1") with varying amounts of growth needed. In some cases, a "4" may indicate that a student is performing significantly beyond grade-level expectations.
As we use Newton's benchmarks (indicated by "3" on the progress report) to make our instructional decisions, I am occasionally asked by parents why we do not focus on "4" as the standard for all students. This is a very good question and is often driven by our shared desire to see all students in a competitive position in the long term for future educational opportunities. I frequently answer this question by saying that we focus on instruction and assessment on our benchmarks because, as a school district, we have started with the end in mind and set high standards for where we want our high school graduates to be in terms of their skills and knowledge. Teams of teachers, administrators, and curriculum coordinators started with the High School expectations and dialed back to determine expectations for each grade level at the Middle and Elementary levels, all the way to Kindergarten. This setting of benchmarks is done in alignment with the Massachusetts Common Core Standards, and our state is consistently a strong performer on national measures such as NAEP and SAT. Due to the extensive time, energy, and reflection invested in this curriculum process at both the state and district levels, we operate with the belief that our grade-level benchmarks are exactly where students need to be at each stage in order to move forward with confidence, and ultimately leave high school with a very strong preparation for college and career.
While individual students may demonstrate proficiency significantly beyond expectations in the specific areas of Math, Music, Reading, and Writing and receive a "4," we invite families to join us in celebrating the accomplishment of reaching the very high standard set by our state and district as indicated by "3" and supporting students who have not yet reached this benchmark. Students who reach each grade-level's benchmarks are strongly prepared for the next grade level, and our Fifth Grade benchmarks indicate strong preparation for Middle School.
Upcoming events:
Please spread the word.
Our annual Kindergarten Information Night will be held on March 1 from 7 to 8 PM in the Library.
Math Morning will take place on April 11.
Audrey Parad Peller