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!"
Jessica Lahey Comes to Estabrook School
You can learn more about Jess and her work by visiting her website here.
Jessica Lahey speaks to the Estabrook School community on March 21.
estafest a huge success
Toilet paper toss is always a big hit at the Estafest game zone!
The Estabrook Greenhouse featured activities and crafts with a green-theme!
Students had some fun at the Estafest photobooth!
Fourth graders host march assembly
Join the Principal's Roundtable on April 2
Dr. Czajkowski to be featured guest at April 12 Principal Coffee
Sign Up for Parent Conferences
A MESSAGE FROM MR. LABROAD ABOUT UPCOMING MCAS TESTING
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 http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/. Questions relating to testing refusals can be directed to Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitchell D. Chester
School Offices Closing early today, Thursday, March 23
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THESE UPCOMING EVENTS.
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
GRADE 5 BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA FIELD TRIP | 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?
"CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY" | Wednesday, April 12
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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