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A graph of 2013 MCAS ELA scores. Number of students scoring proficient or above are on the vertical axis; student improvement is on the horizontal axis.
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Berkshire Arts & Tech Charter School Touts MCAS Scores

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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Principal April West discusses the 2013 MCAS scores with high school students on Wednesday afternoon.
ADAMS, Mass. — The principal of the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School told her students Wednesday to be proud — but not satisfied — with the recently released results of last spring's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams.
 
True, the 2013 MCAS shows the charter school to once again be one of just two "Level 1" districts in Berkshire County.
But even more important is the rate at which students are improving, April West told an assembly of the high school students.
 
And if they keep "climbing the mountain," there is no reason why BArT cannot be king of the hill, April West said.
 
"While Mount Greylock [Regional High School] has achievements I really respect and admire, their students are not improving their skills at the rate we are," West told the students.
 
West showed the students slides based on last week's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education report that show the charter school ahead of nearly every "sending district" that contributes to its student body.
 
The exception was Williamstown's Mount Greylock Regional, which posted the county's top percentages for students in all grades demonstrating proficency or higher in English language arts (93 percent) and mathematics (77 percent).
 
BArT checked in with 77 percent of its students at proficiency or higher in ELA and 61 percent at or above the benchmark in math.
 
Both Mount Greylock and BArT ran well ahead of the statewide average of 69 percent of students proficient or higher in ELA. BArT was right on the average of 61 percent proficient or higher in math.
 
West pointed with pride to those numbers as well as the category in which BArT leads all of its sending districts — including Mount Greylock: student growth percentile.
 
In that measure of improvement among students taking the MCAS last spring, BArT posted scores of 68.0 in ELA and 62.0 in math. Mount Greylock was just behind with percentile scores of 59.0 and 51.0.
 
"Our absolute performance is not as high as Mount Greylock's, but we're growing quite a bit more," West said.
"You're growing more than anybody else [in the county]. We're going to continue to go up and up and up."
 
West emphasized that drive for improvement by singling out the students in each class who demonstrated exceptional growth on the standardized tests, dubbing the cohort "BArT Mountain-Climbers."
 
Other highlights from the MCAS report for the 10-year-old charter school included:
 
Receiving the highest Progress and Performance Index score in Berkshire County for all students and for high needs students.
Having 94 percent of 10th-graders proficient or advanced in math; representing the highest percentage of 10th-grade math proficiency in Berkshire County.
Having 97 percent of 10th-graders proficient or advanced in English.
The 7th-grade English student growth was the 5th highest in the state.
Having a composite performance index in both English and math higher than the state’s: in aggregate, for special education students and for low-income students.

Tags: BArT,   MCAS,   rankings,   

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Berkshires Beat: BNRC Upgrades Popular Trails for 2019 Summer Season

Trail facelifts

On Monday, June 10, state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli joined members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) board of directors, volunteers, staff and nature trail enthusiasts to unveil a redesigned trailhead kiosk and enhanced on-trail signage at BNRC's flagship conservation reserve, Yokun Ridge South at Olivia's Overlook. Similar upgrades have also been completed at 16 other BNRC trail sites across Berkshire County. All 54 BNRC reserves are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

Each updated kiosk features a large map of the reserve and its trail system; notes on the natural, cultural, and ownership history of the protected lands; and suggested activities for each property.  Also available at the kiosks are free, newly revised paper trail maps for visitor use. Easier-to-read on-trail signage, mostly in the form of large brown signs with white letters, has also been installed on many trails. Among these are trails at The Boulders, a BNRC property used by many, which spans across parts of Dalton, Lanesborough and the City of Pittsfield in the center of Berkshire County.

"These kiosk and signage improvements, coupled with BNRC's new Berkshire Trails app, will help everyone explore the richness of the Berkshires' hiking trails and outdoor opportunities," said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. At Monday's unveiling ceremony, Pignatelli spoke to the crowd of the economic importance of conservation land and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Berkshires.

Established in 1967, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment. There are 54 BNRC conservation reserves spread across Berkshire County, free to the public, open to everyone for non-motorized recreation, featuring over 55 miles of maintained trails.

 

Cheshire food pantry

The Cheshire Pantry opened on Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Cheshire Community Center. The pantry will be available the first Saturday of each month. Emergency food is available as well as delivery service.

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