Salem Public Schools' Weekly Update
A Message from the Superintendent
September 22, 2023
Dear Salem Public Schools Community,
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) publicly released Spring 2023 MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) and accountability results for all schools and districts in the Commonwealth. In Salem, the decline in performance following the COVID-19 pandemic has generally halted and we are starting to see academic recovery. While there has been important and critical progress, we still have extensive work to do to accelerate outcomes for our students.
In grades 3-8 , we saw a 2-point increase in both ELA and math MCAS achievement and remained level in science (grade 5 & 8 MCAS). We also saw an overall increase in student growth in both ELA and math (growth is not calculated in science) from last year. This signals that students are improving at rates faster than they were previously. Three of our schools – Bates, Bentley and Witchcraft – made improvements in all three content areas. Across our three high schools, we saw a 1-point decline in 10th grade ELA and math and a 3-point decrease in science. Generally, our data very closely maps to statewide results, where we saw higher increases at the grade 3-8 level than at the high school level.
As a reminder, the MCAS data provides Salem Public Schools’ 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 individual MCAS score reports during the month of October.
Additionally, the state released accountability information for specific schools. The state’s accountability system measures school and district improvement on MCAS achievement and growth (for all students and a variety of subgroups) as well as a broader set of indicators, including chronic absenteeism, multilingual learners’ progress towards English proficiency, advanced coursework completion, graduation rates, dropout rates and students’ extended enrollment in high school.
We are pleased to share that several Salem schools made significant progress towards established targets. A few highlights from our accountability data.
6 of 8 schools made at least moderate progress towards improvement targets. Two schools (Bates and Witchcraft) met or exceeded their targets. Two schools (Bentley and Carlton) made substantial progress and two schools made moderate progress (Collins and Salem High School). Three schools (Early Childhood Center, Salem Prep and New Liberty) do not receive an accountability status given that they do not have testing grades or have insufficient data because of the school’s size.
5 out of 8 schools improved their accountability percentile rank compared to other schools in the Commonwealth. Two schools made double-digit improvement in their percentile rank (Bates and Witchcraft).
Three schools (Collins, Horace Mann and Saltonstall) saw a decline in their accountability rating. Even though Collins saw improvement toward their targets, they did not improve as rapidly as other elementary and middle schools across the state. As such, their accountability status decreased below the 10th percentile and the school will receive targeted assistance for the coming year.
We are pleased to share that Witchcraft was identified as a school of recognition, one of just 65 schools across the entire state recognized for especially high achievement, strong growth, and meeting targets. They are no longer a school requiring targeted assistance.
We are encouraged that our multilingual learners made substantial progress towards their improvement targets in 2023. Our data reveals that we need to pay additional attention to our two subgroups, specifically low income and students with disabilities, who are not making rapid enough progress toward meeting grade level proficiency.
Given our core function as an educational institution, we continue to be urgently focused on ensuring that all students are fully on track and meeting their academic potential. We will build from the schools and classrooms across our district that are clear proof points of success. These are places with positive staff school culture, that embrace the use of high-quality instructional materials, frequently examine student work and make corresponding instructional adjustments, as well as leverage the STAR and other regular assessments to provide additional intervention and acceleration to students and provide ongoing feedback to educators. We will aim to replicate the practices that are already working for students in these schools and classrooms to ensure even progress during the current school year
More information on Salem’s results can be found on the DESE website. We will also share additional information about our MCAS and accountability results, as well as our efforts to respond to the needs of our learners this school year, at our next School Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, October 2nd at 7 p.m. We appreciate your continued support and partnership as we work to improve academic outcomes across our schools.
Have a good weekend.
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.
The rockstar award this week goes to our family engagement facilitators (FEFs) across our schools. They have worked tirelessly at the beginning of the school year to welcome new families to Salem, enroll new students at the Parent Information Center, answer back-to-school questions for families, organize and participate in open houses and family events, and coach other staff around building meaningful relationships with families. Our FEFs bring so much energy and joy to our schools and they are exceptional models for creating inclusive school communities where everyone belongs!
September is Attendance Awareness Month
We are so excited to welcome our students back to school and to see them every day! Building trusting relationships among students and families promotes belonging, which is fundamental to positive student attendance. Please reach out to your school’s main office if you need support getting your student to school every day.
#AttendanceMatters #Showinguptogether #Presente
Congratulations Ms. Canada-Hlatshwayo
We are pleased to share that CMS 6th grade Assistant Principal, Johanny Canada-Hlatshwayo, has been accepted as a fellow in the the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship, a 9-month program that supports Latino education leaders in Massachusetts, Houston, and the Bay Area to advance in their leadership journey and ultimately expand their sphere of influence in the education sector. Fellows are supported through culturally responsive professional development and a strong network of Latino professionals. Congratulations, Ms. Canada-Hlatshwayo!
Mack Park Farm to Host First Harvest Fest Event
Community farm fundraiser will celebrate mission to provide
healthy and sustainable produce for the residents of Salem
Mayor Dominick Pangallo announced that Mack Park Farm’s first fundraising festival will take place, at the farm, where residents can enjoy the new accessible recreation area. The community farm fundraiser will be held at Mack Park, located at 31 Grove Street, Salem, Massachusetts, on September 23, 2023 from 3:00 to 7:00 PM (with a rain date scheduled for September 30th, if necessary). There will be food, a cash bar, live music, garden tours, and guests can take home free produce while supplies last. All are invited to attend. This is a family-friendly event; tickets can be purchased for $15.00 through Eventbrite at https://MackParkFarmHarvestfest.eventbrite.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to pay by cash or check. All proceeds from the event will go towards maintaining the farm and growing food for Salem residents.
The Mack Park Farm began in 2020 when the City of Salem contracted with two local farmers to transform a neglected ball field at Mack Park into a lush growing space to provide healthy food for the Salem community. The project was inspired by a recommendation in the 2018 Salem Community Food Assessment to use municipal land for agriculture. The farmers oversee a crew of volunteers each week who help with the planting, harvesting and distribution of the food. All the produce is organically grown – no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used.
The farm is surrounded by multiple permaculture guilds containing edible plants such as fruit trees, berry bushes, perennial herbs and native pollinators. The guilds, or “patches”, are designed after natural systems, like forests, where an array of plants, insects and animals exist together in a productive system that continually strengthens itself.
“The Mack Park Food Farm and Food Forest is a point of pride for Salem,” said Mayor Pangallo, “I am so grateful to all the volunteers and city staff who have come together to rehabilitate an underused and overgrown area of a city park to create a vibrant recreational space where all Salem residents can have the opportunity to enjoy the food forest, farmers’ markets, and to volunteer. This is an outstanding example of our community members working in tandem to support one another, and especially those of us who are most in need. At a time when our world has faced so much challenge – navigating a global health pandemic – Salem joined together to produce and distribute fresh produce, and nourish our neighbors. The Mack Park Food Farm is truly a success story and one more example of how our community has come together to support one another and make sure Salem works for everyone.”
To date, the farm has grown over 20,000 pounds of food that is distributed for free at biweekly farmers’ markets at the farm, and through The Salem Pantry.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Kerry Murphy, RDN, City of Salem, Health and Wellness Coordinator at (978) 619-5654 x42403 or email@example.com.
Attention High School Students! Want to help the state better meet the health needs of our community? The Community Health Equity Survey helps the Massachusetts Department of Public Health learn about community health needs so it can plan resources and support in Salem. Your story can shape our future health. They will use survey results to improve programs, make decisions about funding and resources, and support policies to improve health inequities. They will also share the results of the survey with partners across Massachusetts to support the important work they are doing to improve health in their communities. Anyone aged 14 and older can take the survey anonymously. It takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes to complete and is available in 11 languages. Take the survey today at Mass.gov/HealthSurvey or by using this link.
Join the Band or Orchestra!
Welcoming new students in Grade 4! Classes meet during the school day and there is no cost to join or participate. Click on the fliers below for details.
REMINDER 2023-2024 Back-to-School Forms - DUE October 1st!
It is essential for your child’s well-being and education that we have accurate and complete information about them in our schools. We appreciate your time and attention so that we can keep your child safe, healthy, and thriving in school, meet any of their unique needs, ensure timely communication with you at home, and keep you informed and updated about all that is happening in our schools.
Please complete these forms FOR EACH CHILD ENROLLED by OCTOBER 1st.
Should you have any questions regarding the content of the forms or need assistance with the forms, please contact your school nurse or school front office. All forms are accessed in the same way you access report cards through Aspen. You can find step-by-step instructions to help you navigate these forms here. The Aspen Family Portal information guides can be found in English, in Spanish, and in Portuguese.
For technical assistance, please contact the IT Department by submitting a technical assistance ticket through this link or by calling the Technical Help Desk at: 978-619-1450. Please note, the technical Help Desk hours are Monday-Friday between 7a-4p.
Download the ParentSquare app
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 the primary communication platform for all Salem Public Schools. All messages and alerts come through ParentSquare and the app makes 1-to-1 communication with your student's teachers and signing up for guardian/student conferences a breeze. If you are not receiving messages from ParentSquare or if you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit www.parentsquare.com for more information.