Superintendent's Fall Newsletter
Bridget A. Gough, Ed.D., Superintendent
Middle School Building Project Update: MSBA Invites Walpole into Feasibility Phase
Last year, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) accepted the Walpole School District’s Statement of Interest for Bird Middle School into MSBA's Eligibility Period. The invitation includes consideration of Johnson Middle School for the potential consolidation of all students in grades 6-8 (only). The Eligibility Period assists the MSBA with managing its financial resources by identifying early in the process whether a District is ready to manage and fund a capital project. It will help to determine a district’s financial and community readiness to enter the capital pipeline. It also assists districts locally by providing a definitive schedule and identifying needs for planning and budgeting. We successfully completed the Eligibility Phase and additionally, a School Building Committee was formed to oversee the process.
We are pleased to announce that on October 30th, we were officially accepted into the Feasibility Phase. The Feasibility Study will examine potential solutions to the issues identified and will develop the most educationally appropriate and cost-effective preferred solution for MSBA consideration. The next step in the Feasibility process is the procurement of an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) to work with the School Building Committee. The goal is to submit all required documents and applications no later than February 2020. Once the MSBA approves this process at the OPM Review Panel Meeting, we will go through a similar process to hire a Designer. We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with MSBA and will provide updates leading up to the community forums.
You can find out more about MSBA process, funding, and the School Building Committee by clicking here.
K-5 Writer’s Workshop
New this year, K-5 teachers are implementing Writer’s Workshop using the Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Narrative, Informational and Opinion/Argument writing. This approach to teaching writing is deliberately designed to offer a simple and predictable environment so that the teacher can focus on the complex work of observing students' progress and teaching into their needs.
Each session of Writer’s Workshop begins with a mini-lesson that specifically teaches students how to be writers through the writing process of planning, drafting, revising and editing. Following the mini-lesson, students work on authentic writing pieces while the teacher meets with students in small groups or in one on one conferences to support their individual growth as writers. The Writer’s Workshop culminates with a share to highlight students’ progress and application of the teaching point, and gives an opportunity for students’ writing to be heard.
We are fortunate to be partnering with Clare Landrigan, literacy expert, in conjunction with our K-5 ELA Curriculum Coordinator, Shannon Findley, who will be providing ongoing professional development to support teachers in their implementation of Writer’s Workshop.
Taking a “Gallery Walk” during Writer’s Workshop to provide constructive feedback for classmates as well as gather ideas
Young writers share their work with School Committee
WPS Welcomes New Staff
This year Walpole Public Schools welcomed over 30 new teachers and support staff across our eight schools. As part of our New Staff Induction Program, all new staff are required to participate in orientation before the official start of the school year. Staff engaged in team building activities, professional development, and appropriate training opportunities to support their transition to Walpole Public Schools. This year many of our current Walpole staff members provided professional support in the areas of "Ensuring Equity", Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, and Bullying Prevention. A special thank you to the Walpole Police Department who also provided ALICE training to all new staff. The orientation week concluded with a community luncheon where many school stakeholders came together to meet and welcome our new staff.
During the school year, new staff are assigned a building mentor and are required to attend monthly meetings to support transition throughout the year. During these meetings, they continue team building activities, discuss strategies to sustain a productive school year, and examine building based supports that impact teaching and learning. Additionally, new staff will focus on wellness and the importance of taking care of our minds and bodies during a busy school year. This year, they will be creating a "First-Year Teachers Cookbook". The recipes found in this cookbook are designed to be easily made during busy school nights.
We are fortunate to welcome a dynamic group of educators to Walpole Public Schools. We are excited by all the ways they will positively impact the Walpole community and help ensure learning across the district to all of our students.
English Language Learner Adult Education Information
This year's first English Language Parent Advisory Council (EL PAC) meeting opened with our parents sharing their excitement and the importance of continuing our English Language Learner Adult Education classes. Currently, Walpole Public Schools is in the process of hiring a teacher and organizing a class schedule. The class will be offered to approximately 20-25 adult learners and run approximately 12 weeks. First priority will be given to EL PAC participants. Other interested participants can contact Assistant Superintendent Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, WPS is looking to partner with the Walpole Town Library to consider offering training for potential English Language Learner Tutor volunteers. Stay tuned for future announcements.
2019 MCAS Information
Last month, you should have received your child’s spring 2019 MCAS report. These MCAS scores, which include results from the next-generation MCAS tests were given in English language arts and mathematics to students in grades 3-8 in spring 2019. This is the third year of next-generation MCAS. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has identified some important information for parents and students to understand the context of the results which is shared below. The state has an accountability system for all schools and districts which is a complex measure of how schools and districts are improving. This information is available and can be accessed from the links provided below.
The next-generation MCAS and its score reports are different from the old (legacy) MCAS, both in terms of format and in the information they contain. On the next-generation MCAS, the four scoring categories are Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations. The new categories emphasize readiness for the next grade level. This year is the first year of grade 10 results on the next-generation English language arts and math MCAS results. This revamped assessment is designed to give students a clearer signal of whether they are on track for college and career readiness, and the average scores in both English language arts (506) and math (505) were both in the Meeting Expectations category. While the next-generation test has different categories than the legacy test, the minimum passing score that 10th graders need in order to meet the testing requirement for graduation is currently set at the equivalent of the minimum passing score on the legacy MCAS.
When reviewing students’ scores, students, parents and educators should keep in mind that:
In general, the standards for Meeting Expectations are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the Proficient level on the legacy MCAS.
Next-generation MCAS scores should not be compared to legacy MCAS scores.
To learn more about the next-generation MCAS and your child's score, go to:
Accountability and Assistance Levels
Last year, the state has introduced an accountability system designed to measure how a school or district is doing. This system is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley noted that the state will do a thoughtful review of the results and monitor how well the new system is providing useful information to districts, schools, parents and the public. The accountability system designates schools and districts as Meeting or Partially Meeting targets and either requiring or not requiring assistance or intervention. In addition to MCAS data, the system considers:
High school completion
Chronic absenteeism, and
Accountability data will be included in school and district profiles and included on redesigned school and district report cards that will be available in December. To learn more about the new Accountability system, go to: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/, and http://www.doe.mass.edu/accountability/lists-tools.html.
Assistant Superintendent William Hahn reviewed the district’s 2019 MCAS performance at the November 5th School Committee Meeting.
2019-2020 School Committee Student Representatives
Each year, we are fortunate to have several Walpole High School students act as Student Representative to the School Committee. These four students, who serve as liaisons between the student body and the School Committee, present a student report at each School Committee regarding events at Walpole High School. Each student is a valuable asset as s/he contributes to the discussion of agenda items. We thank them for their participation and dedication to civic engagement!
From the Health Department: Vaping Information
The Health Department would like to share relevant public health information with our families in Walpole. Presently we are still very concerned with the increased use of vaping devices used within our adolescent population. Vaping has been marketed to our youths as a safe alternative to smoking and also safer than using other drugs. This is just not true.
On September 24, 2019, the Governor declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak of severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and vaping products and the epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth. While the national investigation has not yet identified a specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance that is linked to all cases, a common factor is a history of e-cigarette use and vaping. This led the Governor to declare this public health emergency and a temporary four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products and devices in Massachusetts.
As of October 15, 2019, 1,479 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory. At the time of this entry, thirty-three deaths have been confirmed in 24 states. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. We do know that THC is present in most (but not all) of the samples tested by FDA to date, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing products.
The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak. As such, CDC recommends that you should not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC.
Since the specific causes or causes of lung injury are not yet known. The only way to assure that you are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products. The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, products are unsafe for all ages, including youth and young adults. Nicotine is highly addictive (and contained in e-cigarettes) and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
If you have any questions about vaping or the ban, please reach out to the Health Department at 508-660-7320.
There are multiple ways to get involved in the activities WPS has to offer! Below are just a few examples.
School Nutrition Bites
The Walpole School Nutrition Program offers healthy meals every school day. All meals are planned by a Registered Dietitian with a focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and foods that are low in fat. Planned menus reflect the Nutrition Standards required by the USDA and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. To view online menus and to learn more about our program be sure to visit our website: walpoleschoolnutrition.com
11/12 - School Building Committee Meeting, 6:00 p.m., Town Hall, Room 112
11/12 - Walpole Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Awareness Meeting, 7:00 p.m., Police Station
11/15 - Walk with the Supers, 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m., Walpole High School Track
11/19 - Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Awareness Meeting, 10:00 a.m.Walpole High School
11/21 - School Committee Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Main Meeting Room, Town Hall
11/26 - School Building Committee Meeting, 6:00 p.m., Town Hall, Room 112
11/27 - Early Release
11/28 & 11/29 - Thanksgiving Break – No School
12/5 - School Committee/Leadership Workshop, 7:00 p.m., Walpole High School
12/10 - Junior Parent Meeting, Walpole High School Auditorium, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
12/12 - School Committee Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Main Meeting Room, Town Hall
12/17 - Johnson Middle School Gr. 6, 7, 8 Chorus Concert, 7:00 p.m.
12/18 - Old Post Road School Holiday Sing-Along, 5:45 p.m.
12/18 - Boyden School Holiday Sing-Along, 6:00 p.m.
12/19 - Fisher School Holiday Sing-Along, 5:45 p.m.
12/19 - Elm Street School Holiday Sing-Along, 6:00 p.m.
12/23 – 1/1/20 - Winter Break