The Portrait Indicator

Roxbury's Academic Newsletter

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Welcome to the Portrait Indicator

The Portrait Indicator will be a powerful communication tool for our learning community. This monthly newsletter authored by the district administrators will connect to various district initiatives through a series of articles that are connected to current research and educational best practices. We hope that you find these articles informative and enjoyable.

Status Quo Ante Pandemus?

by Charles Seipp, Ed. D.

Returning to school at the conclusion of each summer brings a variety of emotions for teachers, students, parents, and administration. These emotions are especially heightened after the uncertainty and flexibility that best described the past eighteen months of schooling. The big question what degree will Roxbury return to status quo ante pandemus? The return to the 2021 -2022 school year will certainly be exciting and will continue to require our learning community to work together with the goal of providing the highest caliber learning environment and experience to every student. While some challenges linger, one certainty endures, the Roxbury staff remains dedicated to providing our students with a superior learning experience. Throughout the last school year, our staff and students mastered engaging in high-quality learning by demonstrating creative thinking, emotional intelligence, leadership, citizenship, resilience, adaptability, and life readiness. If these characteristics sound familiar, it's because they are the themes of our district's Portrait of a Graduate...the cornerstone of our belief system.

We hope that this summer has been refreshing and relaxing regardless of the constantly overwhelming news cycles. Specifically, the focus by some is that students are universally behind and in desperate need of remediation. Data collected from teachers and students at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year paint a very different picture. Our data locally describes a resilient district where teachers expanded their creativity and instructional toolbox far beyond the limits even they likely imagined they could and a student population with a desire to engage in meaningful learning experiences no matter the obstacles presented. In fact, besides the exponential expansion of instructional technology, many other positives emerged from the reflection and introspection instigated by the pandemic. These positive qualities as well as the overall successes of our learning community suggest that the most important next steps we can take are to embrace “the tumultuous changes in schooling an opportunity for ongoing reflection and reinvention” (Reich & Mehta, 2021, 3). Highlights from the 2020 - 2021 school year that emerged from the flexibility and creativity as well as the unyielding desire for reflection on the learning process include the development and evolution of a solely choice-based summer learning experience, development of inclusive practices rubric, design of a district-wide grading philosophy, and continued revised standards-based curriculum.

When these highlights are juxtaposed with the recognition that social-emotional learning (SEL) is essential and needs to be embedded in all corners of the learning experience, it might be best to suggest that as a learning community we are best served to look forward to the continued growth and expansion of ongoing initiatives such as SEL, inclusive practices, and consistent philosophy of grading which represent “ ways [our] schools have been reinvented to better serve [all] students” (Reich & Mehta, 2021, 4). A yearning to return to the outdated, “ante pandemus” version would be shortsighted and counterproductive because it would suggest that we have not learned and grown in countless exceptional ways. These district-wide initiatives and the focus on connecting all we do to our Portrait of a Graduate as a support structure to demonstrate progress toward the achievement of learning standards-aligned precisely with the recent recommendation from The School Superintendents Association (AASA). Their May 2021 report “An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools” highlights the importance of moving away from a singular focus on standards and standardized assessments and shifting to a whole child focus with a variety of formative assessment measures which connect to career exploration and civic engagement (Vander Ark, 2021). This concept of connecting to and focusing on the whole child translates into a recognition that the learning experiences encompasses much more than solely content and includes SEL elements and other skills which are highlighted by the district’s Portrait of a Graduate. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has prepared “Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success” which directly supports these essential learning elements which serve the whole child. By growing out of a pandemic-directed instructional year to something even better than we were prior to it we are staying true to our mission of “Preparing the children of today for tomorrow” by being “uncompromisingly learner-centered, no matter what” (Ngyyen, 2021).


American School Counselor Association (2021). ASCA Student Standards; Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success. Alexandria, VA.

Nguyen, M. (April 29, 2021). Leadership during crisis: Lessons and learnings from the League of Innovative Schools. Digital Promise Blog.

Reich, J., & Mehta, J. (2021, July 21). Healing, Community, and Humanity: How Students and Teachers Want to Reinvent Schools Post-COVID.

School Superintendents Association (April 8, 2021). An American imperative: A new vision of public schools.

Vander Ark, T. (September 1, 2021). 5 Changes, Shifts, and Implications for What’s Next in Education


Visible Learning Feedback by John Hattie, Shirley Clarke

From book promotion

Combining research excellence, theory, and vast teaching expertise, this book covers the principles and practicalities of feedback, including:

  • the variability of feedback,
  • the importance of surface, deep and transfer contexts,
  • student to teacher feedback,
  • peer to peer feedback,
  • the power of within lesson feedback and manageable post-lesson feedback.