The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carlisle School District’s 2009-2010 goals reviewed

At the Carlisle School Committee meeting last week, Superintendent Marie Doyle gave a report on progress toward this year’s District Goals to: “1. Provide a rich curriculum in order to maximize student learning; 2. Build a community of respect in a safe and healthy learning environment; 3. Integrate technology; 4. Meet space needs and manage the resources of the Carlisle Public Schools; and 5. Develop effective teacher evaluation tools.”

Goal 1 – rich curriculum

Across grades and subjects, work has been done to improve the curriculum. English Language Arts (ELA), particularly how writing is taught, has gotten a lot of attention this year. Doyle said, “We’re delighted with the work in progress.” Math, Health and World Language curricula have also been reviewed.

The ELA Committee has been gathering data on what is being taught at each grade level. Best practices were researched in the areas that teachers felt were important and recommendations will be made. The End of Year Report on District Goals states, “The goal is to outline a reading and writing curriculum that is research-based, tied to assessment, linked to state and federal standards, and has a clear scope and sequence.”

Nationally-known writing consultant Lester Laminack worked with teachers four times over the year to model teaching, review teaching practices for writing, help to create rubrics and evaluate papers to identify developmental growth. Teachers updated their standards and writing units to make sure they work “vertically” as students move from grade to grade. Doyle said that students’ writing showed significant gains in all grade levels. “Lester had a 92% approval rating from the teachers, which is extraordinarily high,” she said.

Math Specialist Liz Perry has provided staff development and demonstration lessons. Vertical articulation has been re-examined in all grades of the Math curriculum.

The Health teachers have been reviewing their individual curricula this past year.

The World Language teachers have been incorporating technology, by creating flipcharts for the ActivBoards. Flip videos are being used to record students performing dialogs for the class.

Goal 2 – respectful and healthy environment

Teachers met with the architects to be kept abreast of the plans for the new school building and to have influence on them. Doyle said there would be more faculty meetings after school to increase communication. There are Student Leadership Assemblies in the lower grades. These are planned and run by students and focus on students who exemplify the school’s core values such as respect.

“We started a bully survey years ago,” said Doyle. “We monitor our progress to see that the incidence of bullying is decreasing.” She said the Student Leadership Assemblies enable students to be leaders. “Bullying stops when students learn to be leaders.” There was anti-bullying training for parents last week and the staff will also be trained.

Another outcome of the new contract is that teachers will now be in the cafeteria during lunch. In the fall, their role along with cafeteria aides will be more defined.

Goal 3 – tech integration

Technology was integrated throughout the curriculum using math, English and web-based tools.

A computerized assessment tool called Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE) was reviewed this year. Doyle explained that the tool can be used four times a year to assess students’ starting point, progress and final mastery. “We’re excited about this.” Teachers receive printouts describing their students’ areas of strength and weakness. Doyle said this helps teachers with differentiated instruction. The tool has been purchased and will be used next year for grades 2 through 8.

Students in grades K-2 are using the Lexia and Fasttmath programs several times a week. Teachers state that these programs significantly improve skills. ALEKS, an individual math program for grades seven and eight, was piloted. Next year, it will be expanded to include sixth grade. Doyle pointed out that teachers can work with different groups of students while some are working on computers. “Students love using these programs to master their skills. They can’t wait to get on there,” said Doyle.

Teachers received professional development in Google Docs, Moodle and ActivInspire courses, which were taught during the summer, lunch periods and after school.

A Video Club was created this year. By February, the group was doing weekly newscasts which were aired during Monday homerooms. Students were trained on video equipment. “This is great for students,” said school committee member Louis Salemy, adding that at the high school, there is a daily weather forecast by students.

Grades two through eight each have one cart of laptop computers. Another cart is shared between kindergarten and first grade.

Salemy asked where more technology could be used. There was a suggestion to have several computers stationed in classrooms, particularly middle school science rooms, so data could be accessed from the internet. Currently, there is insufficient network bandwidth for this.

Goal 4 – space and budget

The school renovation and addition plan approved by the voters this spring will alleviate space needs. “We are absolutely thrilled the town supported this,” said Doyle. Over the year, the School Building Committee has met with teachers to share the developing plans.

To reach a level-funded budget, the superintendent’s role will be merged with the principal’s role. This follows last year’s consolidation of the business manager and business manager assistant positions. Class sizewill not be impacted by the budget constraints.

Further cost-cutting was done in the building project to keep it under $20 million. The school’s Tech Team met with the School Building Committee’s technology sub-committee, architects and their engineering firm to outline and prioritize their requests. About $500,000 of those requests were eliminated. Doyle met with the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee and asked them to hold $80,000 from both FY11 and FY12 annual school requests. She asked that these funds be set aside until just before the new addition opens and then used to purchase some of the equipment eliminated earlier from the project.

Goal 5 – teacher evaluation tools

The Evaluation Committee has begun meeting to assess the effectiveness of the current process. It will be reviewed and changes will be discussed. The administration attended a multi-day professional development program focused on supervision, coaching and evaluating teachers, and follow-up sessions are planned for the fall. Other assessment tools have been collected for study.

Next year’s goals

Doyle said for next year the teacher evaluation tools will be a priority.

Also, there will be a review of the science and engineering curriculum. Doyle pointed out there is an Engineering room in the new addition being built at the school. “We want the room to be highly utilized.” A review next year will determine how the room will be used and what equipment needs to be in it. Doyle said that the state has guidelines for science and engineering education and some grades have not been doing the entire engineering curriculum. She said that there were good kits available and also professional development available to assist teachers. She concluded it was a good time to review, incorporate the state engineering curriculum and make use of the new space.

Another goal is to have the English Language Arts Committee focus on reading now that they have completed the review of the writing curriculum.

The Health Review Committee will begin Phase I of the complete curriculum review this fall. At that time, they will examine the content according to the state guidelines for both vertical and horizontal articulation.

For more information, see the end of year report available on the school website at:, under “District.” ∆

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