Friday, October 1, 1999
CSC reconsiders and accepts school council report as 'work in progress'
The Carlisle School Council and an interested parent were in the audience at the school committee meeting on September 21. Council members Pam Blair, co-chair of the school council with Principal Andy Goyer, and parents Christy Barbee, Kathryn Dennison, and Brooke Cragan as well as community member Wendell Sykes were available to explain the report. Members of the council were not at the previous school committee meeting when their report, presented by Goyer, failed to receive CSC endorsement for a portion of the report which recommended a survey of teachers relevant to middle school students' transitions to the high school.
Chair David Dockterman began the dialogue with the comment that the Carlisle School system goals are fantastic and referred to the point of contention in the report asking, "Is there a problem? Do Carlisle students have a difficult time adjusting to the high school?"
Transition to the high school
Town member Wendell Sykes was quick to point out that the council found the Carlisle students received a good education and that at no point did they feel there was a problem. To be more specific, he related that the council focused on two areas of interest. One was the social adjustment of the eighth graders when they enter Concord-Carlisle High School and the other was the academic transition. For example, he said that while the Carlisle middle school approach is more team-oriented, the student must be more competitive in high school. Should the Carlisle child be better prepared for the more competitive style of marking and grading? He wanted to encourage a dialogue between the two school systems so that the transition effort is more collaborative. In the process of transition, there can be many subjective influences. Mechanisms need to be in place, a methodology to create a dialogue. This area of concern is not unique, the council found. Surrounding school systems are also interested in this subject.
School parent Cragan said the council hoped the results of the proposed report would be independent of individual problems and strive for a methodology to ensure proper student assessment in the transition process. There are different methodologies in the Concord Middle Schools, the Carlisle Middle School and the Concord-Carlisle High School. She said it would be helpful to have the same set of expectations to bridge the gap.
"The issues are with the children," said co-chair Blair. "They are the customers." She went on to say that "nothing is broken" but that there is a need to brainstorm any and all of the support mechanisms in the transition process.
In the audience, a parent of children in both the high school and middle school had experience with improper placement in a subject area. She expressed concern about inadequate communication between the Carlisle Middle School and the department at the high school. When two middle schools are merging into a regional high school, she said it is important to see whether placements and expectations are similar. She hoped the schools would have common criteria so that Carlisle students would have the same preparation as the Concord students, as they funnel into the various subject levels at CCHS, particularly in foreign language and math.
Dockterman asked what kinds of things Carlisle might do to enhance the process. Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson agreed that communication with CCHS was uneven. "We struggle with it...to feel more included. Sometimes, something falls through the cracks. We need to build bridges, coordination and support."
There was general consensus that the Carlisle guidance department was very good at overseeing the transition process and there is no evidence that Carlisle students are doing poorly, either socially or academically. However, Fox-Melanson suggested maybe the school needs to find a way to interface more between guidance and other departments at the high school, to find out, for example, how the high school would know the level of an entering student in a particular subject matter.
Accepted as work in progress
Fox-Melanson commented that she felt the school council report was very "useful information for us." Goyer said the work of the council was thorough and a very positive experience. The CSC thanked the members of the council for all their hard work and voted on a motion by Dockterman to "accept the report as a work in progress."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito