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November 14 School Committee

by Erica Plunkett
November 15, 2013

After general comments on the high school fall sports wrap-up, upcoming theatre and music events, and District participation in a Masschusetts Technology conference, with a keynote by Tony Wagner “Innovation is a Team Sport,” first on the agenda were the Principals' reports on MCAS.  Results are summarized below but the presentations can be found on the District website (http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/).  Please contact your child’s school if you have any additional questions or concerns. 

Grade 3 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 75% scored Advanced/Proficient; key ideas and details; craft and structure; vocabulary acquisition and use

Needs Improvement: integration of knowledge and ideas; range of reading and level of text complexity 

Grade 3 Math Summary:

Strengths: 81% scored Advanced/Proficent; operations and algebraic thinking; number and operations (fractions); number and operations in Base Ten

Needs Improvement: measurement of area; measurement and estimation of time, volume, and mass; interpretation of data

Grade 4 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 73% scored Advanced/Proficient; key idea and details; vocabulary acquisition and use

Needs Improvement: craft and structure; integration of knowledge and ideas; range of reading and level of text complexity 

Grade 4 Math Summary:

Strengths: 62% scored Advanced/Proficient; number sense and operations in Base Ten; number sense and operations (fractions); operations and algebraic thinking.

Needs Improvement: measurement and data related to problem solving; measurement related to conversion of measurement units; geometry related to lines and angles 

Grade 5 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 84% scored Advanced/Proficient; key idea and details; vocabulary acquisition and use

Needs Improvement: craft and structure; integration of knowledge and ideas; range of reading and level of text complexity 

Grade 5 Math Summary:

Strengths: 83% scored Advanced/Proficient; number sense and operations in Base Ten; number sense and operations (fractions)

Needs Improvement: Geometry (classifying two-dimensional figures)

Grade 5 Science and Technology:

Strengths: 80% scored Advanced/Proficient; engineering design; physical science; energy

Needs Improvement: rocks and their properties 

Placentino/Miller Perspective:

1.      Continued instructional consistency of core curriculums across all classrooms (Reading Street and enVision Math)

2.      Teacher-based Student Learning Goals/Professional Practice Goals that support strategic targeted areas of curriculum for all students

3.      Identify High Needs students to provide targeted interventions

4.      RTI Level 1 and 2 interventions provided both in and out of the classroom

5.      Placentino’s  coordinated model of classroom supports includes: the classroom teacher, special education liaison, reading teacher, and a math tutor.

6.      Increased use of digital components and continuous review of assessments that are directly linked to the core curriculum and the 2011 Frameworks 

Next Steps:


1.      Focus on areas of change in MA Frameworks 2011

2.      Implementation of Empowering Writers, linking grades 2-5

3.      Grade-level Student Learning Goals/Professional Practice Goals with a focus on phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency, comprehension, and writing

4.      Targeted interventions for High Needs students 


1.      Focus on areas of change in MA Frameworks 2011

2.      Increased expectations in the areas of: operations with fractions, geometry, and measurement

3.      Integration of math concepts in to specialist areas

4.      Grade-level Student Learning Goals/Professional Practice Goals with a focus including fact fluency development 


1.      Align to new MA frameworks when released.


Grade 6 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 87% Advanced/Proficient; vocabulary acquisition and use; reading (integration of knowledge and ideas)

Needs Improvement: reading (key ideas and details, craft and structure) 

Grade 6 Math Summary:

Strengths: continued increase in percent Advanced/Proficient since 2010; moderate improvements in expressions and equations, ratios and proportions; significant improvements in multiplication and division of fractions; continued trend of high results in number sense and operations

Needs Improvement: statistics and probability; overall performance on short answer 

Grade 7 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 91% Advanced/Proficient; reading (craft and structure); long composition (production and distribution of writing); conventions of standard English (vocabulary use and acquisition)

Needs Improvement: reading (key ideas and details); long comp (text types and purposes) 

Grade 7 Math Summary:

Strengths:  continued increase in percent Advanced/Proficient since 2010; significant improvement in expressions and equations; moderate improvement in statistics and probability and the number system; geometry a relative strength; open response holding steady.

Needs Improvement: using property of operations to generate equivalent expressions; probability (investigating chance and evaluating probability models); constructing geometrical figures 

Grade 8 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 93% Advanced/Proficient; reading (key ideas and details); vocabulary acquisition and use (conventions of standard English)

Needs Improvement: reading (integration of knowledge and ideas, craft and structure) 

Grade 8 Math Summary:

Strengths: Strengths: continued increase in percent Advanced/Proficient since 2010; significant improvement in connections between proportional relationships and linear equations; moderate improvement in statistics and probability and the number system; expressions and equations and geometry remain areas of strength; open response holding steady in functions and geometry.

Needs Improvement: open response in expressions and equations and statistics and probability; evaluating and comparing functions; investigating patterns in bivariate data; approximations of irrational numbers. 

Math High Needs Summary:

Strengths: Grade 6- extend previous understanding of arithmetic expressions to algebraic expressions; analyze relationships between independent and dependent variables. Grade 7- solve real life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations. Grade 8- understand the connection between proportional relationships and linear equations.

Needs Improvement: Grade 6- describe data distributions. Grade 7- use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions, use proportional relationships to solve real world and mathematical problems. Grade 8- approximate irrational numbers and applying the Pythagorean Theorum, evaluating and comparing functions. 

Science and Technology Summary:

Strengths: physical science (13% above state); Earth’s Structure (13% above state); Classification of Organisms (16% above state)

Needs Improvement: Life Science, Earth and Space Science; lowest scores relative to state were on questions that were not covered in the curriculum; open response will continue to be a focus; continue to look for opportunities to align curriculum, while still developing deep understandings; planning in anticipation of new MA standards. 

Grade 10 ELA Summary:

Strengths: 96% Advanced/Proficient

Needs Improvement: writing to text; open response (key ideas and details)

SMARTER Goal: working with English 9 course partners, develop a new final exam for the course based on MCAS-style questions and administer to students in June 2014

Grade 10 Math Summary:

Strengths: 92% Advanced/Proficient

Needs Improvement: seeing structure in expression (new content with 2011 Frameworks); seeing patterns in equations or problems; data analysis; word problems

SMARTER Goal: By the end of Semester II, students in algebra will improve their scores on MCAS-like problems about equations and expressions and geometry strands my 10%. 

Grade 9 Science Summary:

Strengths: 95% Advanced/Proficient

Needs Improvement: genetics and natural selection; open response in biochemistry and cell biology; Level 2 status

SMARTER Goal: During the 2013-2014 year, teachers will establish and implement and exit strategy protocol to use as a formative assessment in order to improve instruction. 

HHS Building Goal:

Student Learning Goal- Improvement of Standardized Test Results: attain student growth percentile (SGP) scores greater than 50% in both ELA and Math for all students, and both ELA and Math scores for students designated as High Needs in the March and May 2014 tests.  In addition, the school will work to reduce the number of students remaining on Education Proficiency Plans by 50%. 

Next on the agenda, Mr. Buday presented the Capital Plan update:

Technology Infrastructure:

·         Data Server (HHS)- $6K (replacing a six-year old Gateway server)- ON HOLD till Spring

·         Switches (P/M)- $50K (1G to the desktop and setting up for wireless)- Getting firm quotes, will install on weekends. 

Classroom Technology:

·         Desktops (HHS)- $14.4K (Special Ed classrooms)- Getting firm quotes

·         Fitnessgram (HHS)- $4.5K (would provide K-12 Fitnessgram site license)- Going with Cloud-based solution as they are eliminating user-hosted product.

·         Foreign Language Lab (HHS)- $63.5K (nearing the end of its useful life; Holliston is the foreign language District in Massachusetts and a language lab allows teachers to evaluate in real time)- Bringing in three companies to make final selection

·         Music Technology Lab (HHS)- $10K (rebuild Midi Lab to support curriculum changes in the Performing Arts program; the Music parents are very involved in the curriculum planning aspect and are going to be launching a capital campaign to support this project and the tools it will offer)- Seed money; ON HOLD for fundraising

·         iPads (Adams)- $4K (assistive technology)- ON HOLD to evaluate Chromebook use

·         iPad carts (Adams)- $16.2 (1 per grade, 1 was done in 2013)

·         Notebook Cart (Adams)- $18K (2 carts of Chromebooks, a smaller lightweight PC, tied to Google apps)- ORDER PLACED


·         Carpeting (District)- $25K (13-13 years old at Placentino)- Will do as much as money allows

·         Doors (HHS)- $20K (low bid, high use, bigger students, 20 are in need)- Will start with steel doors replacing wood doors inside the field house. Next will be replacing major fire doors in HS and Adams

·         Café Tables (P/M)- $10K (most are 13 years old, low bid, have been replacing with end-of-year funds)- Getting firm quotes

·         Office A/C (Miller)- $8.5K (they’re failing; getting a formal quote, this is an estimate)- working on schedule to install when school is not in session.

·         Office A/C (Placentino)- $8.5K (they’re failing; getting a formal quote, this is an estimate)-working on schedule to install when school is not in session.

·         Auditorium Lighting ($47K)- Bulbs are no longer being manufactured.- Working with two vendors to get a plan established

Grand total of the priority list is $305,959. 

Dr. Jackson then presented a draft of the School Year 2014-2015 calendar.  School is slated to begin for students on Tuesday, August 26 (with Friday, the 29th as a first Professional Day).  The 180th day would be Wednesday, June 17th (with five snow days built in, the 185th day would be Wednesday, June 24th).   

Dr. Ahern then shared with the Committee new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers) information.  PARCC is a consortium of 18 states, DC, and the US Virgin Islands that as part of the federal Race to the Top Initiative, has been developing a suite of assessment tools that measure the new Common Core State Standards (this information can be found on the District website).   Dr. Ahern stated that a major feature of the PARCC Assessments is that they are being designed for delivery via computers.  This would allow the tests to be scored more quickly and districts would receive results sooner. Massachusetts is currently in the fourth year of participating in the development of these assessments.  Both Miller and Adams have been selected* by the state to participate in the field test at the following grades: two Grade 3 classrooms (computer-based ELA Performance-based assessment); two Grade 4 classrooms (computer-based ELA end of year assessment); two grade 8 classrooms (computer-based ELA end of year assessment).  This transition will be “complex and challenging,” Dr. Ahern said. Here is the link to PARCC information on the DESE website: http://www.doe.mass.edu/parcc/2014FieldTest.pdf

The School Committee voted to draft a letter to the Commissioner of Education and local legislators expressing grave concern about the field testing of students.  The Committee questions the amount of testing for students, the selection of classrooms, and the loss in instructional time for those being tested (*editorial note: field-testing is NOT optional for Holliston).   

Last on the agenda, Dr. Jackson presented a brief update on the Full-Day, tuition-free Kindergarten plan.  Dr. Jackson introduced this idea a year ago, during the FY 14 New Initiatives workshop.  “Because this proposal represents a significant and somewhat complicated impact on our budget, I am recommending that [it] receive significant attention both before and during the FY15 Budget Development Process… I am recommending that we follow this Plan for introducing the concept (and its impacts) to the community at-large and Town leaders specifically:”

·         Nov. 4- Public to introduce full-day Kindergarten

·         Nov. 14- Review Community Education Plan with School Committee

·         December 12- Introduce Full-Day Kindergarten Plan to School Committee, including financial implications, Board of Selectmen, and Finance Committee (focusing on educational benefits)- This meeting may happen on Dec. 12, January 2, or January 23, depending upon Board availability.  Please stay tuned **….

·         January 24- Formally introduce Plan as part of New Initiative Workshop

·         February 4- Kindergarten Open House for Fall 2014 parents

·         February 11-12- Kindergarten Registration for Fall 2014

·         February-May- Continue town-wide discussions with BoS, Fin Com, and School Committee WITH the goal of securing the support of all three Town Boards

·         May 5, 2014- Annual TOWN MEETING (mark your calendars now) 

The next meeting is December 12th.  Central to that agenda will be Full-Day K (**see note above), finalizing the School Year 2013-2015 calendar, and reviewing the new Educator Evaluation process as it pertains to the Superintendent.  School Committee Office Hours are on the website (http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/sc/SCOH.htm) but the next one will be Tuesday, November 19th, 8-9 am am at Pejamajo.  Please note that December Office Hours will be in the evening on Thursday, Dec. 5th, 7-8 pm at Casey’s.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Central Office or any School Committee member.   

Kindest regards,

Erica Plunkett

Chair, Holliston School Committee 

Did You Know….for the fifth consecutive time, Massachusetts students have scored at the top of the nation on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) exam?  The Commonwealth’s 4th and 8th graders have earned the highest scores in both reading and math: 8th graders have ranked the first in the country in math, and tied for first in 4th grade reading, math, and 8th grade reading.  All these scores were well above the national average, according to this press release: http://www.mass.gov/governor/pressoffice/pressreleases/2011/11111-naeps-results-released.html.



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Comments (1)

Sorry, I should know better than to type without my glasses. On the capital updater, the iPads on hold are the ones at Adams, not the special ed ones for assistive technology.

- Erica Plunkett | 11/16/13 10:27 AM



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