Estabrook Buzz

News and Notes from Estabrook School | March 23, 2017


Dear Estabrook Families,

The past week featured two powerful events that highlighted for me the strength of our school community and the work we do together in support of our students.

Last Saturday's Estafest--my first since joining Estabrook School--was an incredible event, made possible by the efforts of so many individuals. From tireless parent volunteers and event organizers, to generous donors, to teachers who contributed to raffle and auction items, the event's success was a tangible representation of this wonderful community. Thank you to everyone who came out to support this wonderful Estabrook tradition. As a result, the Estabrook PTO raised more than $18,000--money that directly supports programs and initiatives that enhance the quality of your child's school experience.

Tuesday evening's lecture featuring The Gift of Failure author Jessica Lahey demonstrated our collective commitment to exploring new ideas, discussing issues that matter most to us and working together to best meet the needs of our children. I am grateful to everyone who attended the event, including the dozens of Estabrook faculty and staff in attendance.

I continue to be inspired by our work together, and as the start of spring brings with it a calendar quickly filling with activities and events, I consider us all lucky to call Estabrook "our school!"


Jeff LaBroad


Jessica Lahey Comes to Estabrook School

Estabrook School played host to New York Times Bestselling Author Jessica Lahey this past Tuesday, March 21. Jess explored topics of resilience, competence and intrinsic motivation that result from building capacity in our children. Nearly 500 Estabrook faculty members and parents, as well as educators from across Lexington joined the conversation. Our thanks to the Lexington Education Foundation for their support of this important event.

You can learn more about Jess and her work by visiting her website here.

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Jessica Lahey speaks to the Estabrook School community on March 21.

estafest a huge success

Thanks to everyone who joined in on all the fun at Estafest 2017!

Thank you for supporting Estabrook Day at Wilson Farm

Thanks to your support and patronage, Estabrook School raised $275.00 from Wilson Farm this year. At left, Estabrook Principal Jeff LaBroad and Assistant Principal Katie O'Hare Gibson accept the donation from Wilson Farm.

Fourth graders host march assembly

Estabrook's fourth graders shared there work as part of their study of immigration at this month's All School Assembly.
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Join the Principal's Roundtable on April 2

Continue the conversation about how we can best support our children, set them up for success and help them build a sense of motivation and strong sense of self at our Spring Principal's Roundtable, Sunday, April 2 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in the Estabrook Cafeteria. Among our topics of conversation, we will explore more deeply the themes introduced as part of our work together around The Gift of Failure. Join us!

Dr. Czajkowski to be featured guest at April 12 Principal Coffee

Lexington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Czajkowski will be the featured guest at our Principal Coffee on Wednesday, April 12 at 8:45 a.m. Come hear from Dr. Czajkowski about some of the work taking place across Lexington and right here at Estabrook, and hear about her priorities for the district.

Sign Up for Parent Conferences

A reminder to sign up for your Spring Parent Conference with your child's teacher. Parent Conferences will take place during the first two weeks of April. Conferences provide a great opportunity for parents and teachers to discuss student progress and set goals for the next part of the school year.

Click here to sign up for a conference with your child's teacher.


Submitted by Jeff LaBroad, Estabrook School Principal

Starting in April, students across Massachusetts will take part in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) testing. The assessment is one measure of how students, teachers and schools are performing throughout the state, and one of the many tools teachers and administrators use to measure student growth and identify unmet needs. At the elementary level, students in grades 3, 4 and 5 participate in English language arts and math assessments. Students in grade 5 also complete a science assessment.

As in years past, students will answer multiple choice, short answer and open-response questions in both reading and math, as well as text-based essay questions in English language arts.

There are many things you can do as a parent to help assure your child's success on test days. Making sure your child is at school on time while ensuring that he/she has a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast will go a long way toward being prepared for the demands of the test. Providing a healthy morning snack to eat before the start of the testing session is also helpful, as many students will work through until lunchtime.

Spring MCAS results are typically released to families in early fall. With any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

A Message from Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester about the 2017 MCAS

This spring marks the start of the next-generation MCAS assessments in English language arts and math in grades 3-8. After considering for several years how to best update our already strong statewide assessment, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in November 2015 to maintain a test unique to our Commonwealth that would draw some of its questions from the existing MCAS, some of its questions from the PARCC assessment developed by a consortium of states, and some questions created specifically for the next-generation MCAS. This spring is the debut of that new test.

The Board also voted to transition to computer-based testing. For the next-generation MCAS tests this spring, most students will take the computer-based version in grades 4 and 8. Many schools have also chosen computer-based testing in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7; the remainder will be taking the paper version.

Many people ask us why we conduct statewide testing. These tests are required by both state and federal law, but more importantly:

  • Test results help parents gauge whether their children are making academic progress.
  • Test results help educators identify strengths and weaknesses in their curricula and instructional methods.
  • A student’s participation in statewide testing helps provide context to other students in the same school, students in other schools within the district, and students in other districts. Failure to participate denies this perspective not only to the student who refuses to participate, but to other students and parents in the school, district, and statewide.
  • Test results help the state target additional resources to underperforming schools.
  • Test results help document our progress to the Governor and the Legislature as we seek to ensure adequate funding for all our schools.

MCAS was first instituted as part of the 1993 Education Reform Law. The programs and funding in that law have led to nearly a quarter-century of steady improvement in our K-12 schools. Today Massachusetts is number one in the nation in elementary and secondary education.

Refusal to Participate in State Tests

Every year, some families ask whether students are allowed to opt-out of taking a statewide test. In brief, the answer is no. Testing is a mandatory part of the curriculum, the same as a spelling test or math test, and statewide assessments are most useful when all students take them. Neither the Commonwealth nor Congress provides an opt-out provision. Tenth graders who refuse to take MCAS jeopardize their high school diploma. In addition, refusals to test can impact a school’s accountability rating. The accountability system is set up to encourage high participation rates (if it weren't, results would not be reflective of school-wide achievement). The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires a 95 percent participation rate. Schools with a lower participation rate run the risk of having their accountability rating lowered.

Under draft regulations that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education sent out for public comment on February 28, 2017, schools and districts that fall below a 90 percent participation rate will have their accountability status set to Level 3 (out of 5). Further, the 2016-17 and 2017-18 participation rates will be combined to determine participation rates for the 2017-18 accountability levels. In other words, refusals to test in spring 2017 could impact a school's accountability rating for two years.

Students who refuse to take the MCAS test may remain in the testing room as long as they are sitting quietly and are not interfering with other students. If a student becomes disruptive, they should be removed from the testing room and placed in a safe location until testing is completed and regular classroom instruction resumes. Given that statewide standardized tests are a legal requirement, it is my department's expectation that all students will participate.

More information about the next-generation MCAS, including information for parents, is available online at our MCAS page at Questions relating to testing refusals can be directed to Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson at


Mitchell D. Chester


School Offices Closing early today, Thursday, March 23

All Lexington Public Schools offices will close at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, to allow for staff training on our new email/communication system, slated to come online this summer. We appreciate your understanding.



Click here for the complete Estabrook School Calendar

Click here for the complete 2016-2017 Academic Calendar

ACT PERFORMANCE (GRADES 3-5) | Thursday, March 23, 10:30 a.m.

SCHOOL OFFICES CLOSING EARLY | Thursday, March 23, 1:30 p.m.

SCHOOL COUNCIL | Monday, March 27, 3:45-5:00 p.m.

ACT PERFORMANCE (GRADE 2) | Thursday, March 30, 11 a.m.

PRINCIPAL'S ROUNDTABLE | Sunday, April 2, 2:00-3:30 p.m.

Estabrook School Cafeteria

Join us as we continue our conversation about intrinsic motivation and self-reliance, based on themes explored in The Gift of Failure.

MCAS: Grade 5 ELA Session 1 | Monday, April 3

MCAS: Grade 5 ELA Session 2 | Tuesday, April 4

PARENT CONFERENCES | Wednesday, April 5 & Thursday, April 6

Students dismissed at 12:15 both days

MCAS: Grade 5 ELA Session 3 | Wednesday, April 5

MCAS: Grade 4 ELA Session 1 | Friday, April 7


MCAS: Grade 4 ELA Session 2 | Monday, April 10

All School Assembly | Tuesday, April 11, 2:15 p.m., Estabrook Cafeteria

Hosted by Grade 2. Parents of second grade students invited to attend.

PRINCIPAL COFFEE | Wednesday, April 12, 8:45 a.m.

Special Guest, Lexington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Czajkowski

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL DAY | Wednesday, April 12

Will anyone be able to beat the reining holders of the GOLDEN SNEAKER AWARD in grade 5?


Presented by the Fifth Grade Drama Club. Parents of performers invited to attend.

PARENT CONFERENCES | Wednesday, April 12 & Thursday, April 13

Students dismissed at 12:15 both days

MCAS: Grade 4 ELA Session 3 | Thursday, April 13

GOOD FRIDAY - NO SCHOOL | Friday, April 14

Schools and Offices Closed

APRIL VACATION | April 17-21

Schools Closed. Offices open April 18-21.

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