The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 18, 2008

CCHS reviews improvement plan, past and future

Each June, the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Advisory Council reviews the progress the school has made and proposes new goals in a School Improvement Plan. CCHS Principal Peter Badalament serves on the advisory council and says the plan “is definitely an integral part of my planning for the coming year.” Badalament gave a short overview of the plan at the June 24 meeting of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) and later shared additional observations with the Mosquito.

The council is made up of six school staff members, four students, five parents and a community member. This year, the council sought ways to improve communication, school culture and student participation. Badalament notes the group “identifies student needs and then plans initiatives to meet those needs.”

Improving the culture

One way to improve the school culture has been to have “Challenge Days,” which are part of the “Be the Change” program. The program focuses on confronting and resolving issues based upon discrimination, prejudice, stress, violence, drugs and alcohol. To keep the momentum going, follow-up parent and student teams were formed and several follow-up luncheons and meetings took place. Plans are in place to implement a revised Challenge Day next year.

Extracurricular involvement

To increase student participation in co-curricular activities, information has been disseminated more broadly by using listserv and mailings over the summer to advertise these activities. Also, the daily bulletin, which is broadcast over the public address system and sent to parents via email during the school year, announces co-curricular activities.

Several new clubs were formed at CCHS this year, including Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), as well as groups devoted to Quidditch and also fashion. SADD works to encourage students to make better decisions when it comes to alcohol and drug use. Some students emulate the game played in the Harry Potter books in the Quidditch Club, while others discuss the latest fashions in Craze, the fashion club. Badalament notes, “Students are always coming up with great ideas for new clubs. They frequently stop by my office to propose ideas for novel student organizations.”

A goal for the coming year will be to evaluate co-curricular activities, try to increase student participation and reach out to those who are not currently involved in any co-curricular activities. A goal to create more intramural activities has been difficult to implement, because of the limited availablity of the gyms, which are already heavily used for interscholastic sports.

Freshman orientation

Other goals over this past year were to strengthen the transition program from grade 8 to grade 9 and to improve communication between the middle schools and the high school. Last fall, freshmen had a full day of team-building exercises along with a chance to meet their teachers during the day before classes started. The Network Program was created by adjustment counselors Kelli Kirshtein and Dan Simone to provide extra support for a small set of incoming freshmen. Also in the fall, meetings were held between guidance counselors of the high school and middle schools to improve communication between the schools.

Closing the achievement gap

More effort is being put into closing the achievement gap between sectors of the student population. Examples of efforts to address this issue include a tutoring program and the laptop loaner program, which was expanded last year. Efforts in this area will continue next year with a goal to provide professional development opportunities for teachers to differentiate teaching strategies.

Reviewing attendance policy

Badalament said there was “a perceived problem” with attendance and in response, the CCHS attendance policy would be reviewed in the coming year. He wants more information on how much school the students are missing, how much credit is lost due to absence and how often students are tardy.

MassCore recommendations

Another council goal will be to review CCHS graduation requirements, comparing them to MassCore, a rigorous state-recommended program of study to better prepare students for college and careers. The recommendation includes:

• 4 years of English/Language Arts

• 4 years of math

• 3 years of science, 2 years with lab

• 3 years of history

• 2 years of foreign language

• 1 year of art

• 5 courses in some of the following: business education, career and technical education (CTE), health, computer science, desktop publishing, multi-media and web design.

• advanced placements courses

• a capstone or senior project

• online courses for high school or college credit

• service learning, work-based learning.

CCHS graduation requirements

Current requirements for graduation at CCHS include:

• 4 years of English

• 2 years of history

• 2 years of math

• 2 years of science

• 2 years of applied technologies, math or science

• 1 year of art, foreign language, music, social studies or drama

• 1/2 year of applied technologies, art, music or drama

• 3/4 year of freshman health/fitness/ personal development

• Electives equalling 20.25 credits

• 40 hours of community service

Reducing stress

Lastly, the council will discuss ways to reduce stress for juniors and seniors. They will identify the times and extent of the problem and seek approaches to reduce stress. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito