Salem Public Schools Weekly Update
for School Year 2022-2023
A Note From the Superintendent
September 30, 2022
Dear Salem Public Schools community,
Today, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) publicly released Spring 2022 MCAS assessment results for all schools and districts in the Commonwealth. The effects of the pandemic continue to be evident in our performance and the outcomes of students across the state and country. The continued disruption caused by student absences coupled by significant differences in participation rates between the 2021 and 2022 MCAS assessments, resulted in uneven performance across content and grades. As a district, we mirrored state trends in math where we saw important improvement gains, a decline in English Language Arts (ELA) performance and no change in science performance from 2021 to 2022. Our overall growth data was equally inconsistent such that we saw higher growth in middle and high school math and high school ELA and mediocre growth in elementary math and elementary and middle school ELA.
As a reminder, the MCAS data provides Salem Public School’s educators and our families with important diagnostic information on areas where students progressed and where additional support is necessary. MCAS scores are only one indicator of student and school success. All families will receive their child’s MCAS scores during the month of October.
While we feel a tremendous sense of urgency to get our students on track, it is predicted that it will take 3-5 years for students to fully recover from the impact of so much lost quality learning time over the last three school years. We enter this school year with optimism that there will be fewer COVID interruptions and confidence that our efforts to establish consistent and predictable expectations will ensure a culture of belonging and high achievement across our schools. Our district focus this year speaks to this commitment to nurture our students to become independent learners who can achieve at grade level or higher. More specifically, we have launched the school year committed to the following:
Implementation of strong curriculum materials: We are fortunate to have high-quality, well-vetted and researched-based curriculum materials in all content areas. These materials have been introduced over the last two years, and we are supporting our teachers to utilize these resources with our students so that they regularly engage in cognitively demanding grade-level work. It is essential that our students spend a higher percentage of their time immersed in and responding to complex texts as this proved to be areas where students struggled on the MCAS.
Maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio: We have continued to use our fiscal resources to ensure that students benefit from personalized, small-group instruction as often as possible.
More consistently turn student data into action: We are working closely with our schools to use the valuable information they have on student growth and achievement throughout the year to provide students with additional interventions or more accelerated learning opportunities depending on their needs. We also want our students to better understand their individual progress and become motivated around the goals that they set for their own learning.
High-dosage tutoring: We have increased the number of tutors and fellows across our schools to provide more targeted support to assist with mastery of unfinished learning. We have worked hard to ensure that the schools and students that need the most get the most. Additionally, it is important that intensive one-to-one and small group tutoring is a sacred part of a student’s in-school and out-of-school time schedule. To this end, we have also contracted with Catapult Tutoring, a high-quality provider approved by the Department of Education, to expand our ability to provide this level of purposeful assistance to our students.
Strengthen our social-emotional supports: We need students in school every day, and on time, for learning unless they are sick. We know that student attendance and engagement is higher when they feel a sense of connection and belonging to their classroom and school. For this reason, we are doubling down in our efforts to explicitly teach social and emotional competencies and create inclusive spaces for all children.
More information on Salem’s results can be found on the DESE website. We will also share additional information about our MCAS results and our efforts to respond to the needs of our learners this school year at our next School Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, October 3rd at 7 pm. We are incredibly grateful for your continued partnership and collaboration as we take the necessary steps to ensure that your children excel across our schools.
And the winner is……
At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a rock star trophy.
This week, the rockstar award goes to Amy Lowd and Kristen Meshulam who are reading specialists at Carlton. They have been more than willing to pick up extra work to be able to support teachers through coaching and developing action plans to assist struggling learners while providing targeted intervention to students who need it the most. They have embraced these new responsibilities even though it may have been out of their comfort zone. We applaud them for their efforts to ensure that Carlton is off to a great start this year!
Salem High School CVTE Program - One Million+ Grant Award
The Salem High School Career and Technical Education is proud to announce that we have been awarded a grant for just over $1M for lab modernization and to expand and improve two Career and Technical Education programs at Salem High School.
Within the past year, culinary arts and medical assisting have experienced rapid expansion in student growth which has also aligned with the community's need for these careers in and around Salem. This grant will address these needs by allowing Salem High School to design and build a commercial expansion kitchen and purchase state-of-the-art 3D simulation equipment for the Culinary Arts and Medical Assisting programs.
This grant is in addition to the MA Skills Capital Grant awarded this summer for over $260,000 to develop our Graphics and Visual Communications Pathway and provide sustainability equipment such as wind and photovoltaic equipment curriculum in the construction cluster to address the growing need for these careers on the north shore.
The Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant program was created in 2015 to address the need for a skilled workforce in the Commonwealth. This grant not only provides funding but also leverages businesses and creates partnerships between the community and schools to provide access to education around industry standards and future career pathways for scholars in the state.
Congrats to the Salem High School CTE program!
Adjustments to Specialized Transportation Routes
We would like to let families know that we have received an unusually high number of specialized transportation requests since the beginning of the school year which has impacted current routes. We've had to redo the routes in order to accommodate all new requests and make current routes more efficient. We will be doing dry runs and making final adjustments next week and plan to start new routes on Wednesday, October 5th. Parents will be notified of any changes to their bus information by Tuesday, October 4th.
Please join us for a vaccine clinic at Saltonstall on Saturday, October 1st from 9:00am-1:00pm. Everyone who gets vaccinated will receive a $25 gift card.
• Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines available
• The vaccine is FREE
• ID and Health Insurance are NOT required
• First doses, second doses, and boosters available
Pre-registration is available here.
Back-to-school forms must be filled out for each student by October 1st. These forms give schools and our nurses current info about your student's health needs, permission to administer over-the-counter medications, provides emergency contacts, as well as verification of addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and more. Information about how to fill out these important forms can be found here: https://bit.ly/SPS2022forms
Wind for Future Generations: Opportunities for Students & Community Members of All Ages
October 6th 2022 @ 7:00pm on Zoom
Come hear about local youth experiences with KidWind and learn ways kids & teachers can get excited, learn & prepare for future jobs in the offshore wind industry. Free for all. Traducción al español disponible.
Pre-register at tinyurl.com/studentwind
● Salem Alliance for the Environment (www.salemsafe.org)
● Clean Water Action (www.cwa.org)
● Old Bedford Village Corp.
NEW SPLIT ENTRANCES FOR CENTRAL OFFICE AND COLLINS MIDDLE SCHOOL
By Wednesday, September 7th, the central administrative offices housed at Collins Middle School will have a separate entrance. The main entrance for CMS students, CMS staff and CMS families only will remain in the center, rear of the building. All other SPS staff and visitors for the central administrative offices will now use the new central office entrance, located on the Jackson St. side of the building, closest to Highland Ave. See picture below. We appreciate your cooperation and patience as we may redirect you to the proper entrance depending on the nature of your visit.
The Virtual Backpack
Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student's backpack from friends and partners to SPS.
Download the ParentSquare app today!
A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student's classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.
This is how our school and teachers communicate with families districtwide. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If need support downloading the app or receiving messages, please contact your school's front office. You can visit www.parentsquare.com for more information.