North Adams School Committee met on Tuesday evening to discuss future goals and MCAS results.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Students are improving their overall MCAS scores but the school district's accountability and assistance level remains in the third tier.
Superintendent James Montepare isn't worried though.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System ranks school districts on a scale of 1 to 5 in accountability.
Montepare said the detailed statistics
, show English language arts, social studies and math scores improving, though still falling below the state's target.
"That's the trend, not only with the district, but in each and every school... my goal is to just go slow and steady and keep moving forward," Montepare said.
Jean Bacon, director of research, evaluation and information technology, explained, for example, that Drury may make a jump out of Level 3 when the improved scores catch up to the cumulative progress and performance index four-year averages
. In 2010 and 2011, Drury scored a 25 and 54 respectively, but turned in an 82 each year since. (The new system was implemented in 2012, but included previous scores any way.)
To at least reach "on target" status, Drury needs a score of 75 based on the formula that calculates four-year results. This year, Drury hit a 71 despite the 2010 and 2011 scores.
Outside of MCAS scores, the school district seeks to continue to improve student progress in core subjects, graduation rates and college and career readiness, said Bacon, as part of the 2017 goals set forth by the DOE.
One key statistic for the success in graduation rates, Bacon explained, is the importance of students failing fewer courses and, more importantly, core courses — English, math, science and social studies. The percentage of students to fail a core course dropped from about 25 percent to 10 percent from 2010 to 2013.
Drury Principal Amy Meehan said the increased access to the more challenging AP courses will help prepare students for college. Last school year, 55 students recorded qualifying scores on AP exams. Although that fell below the goal of 60, it was an improvement from 25 the previous year.
"We were really close, I am proud of the work that the students and the teachers did," Meehan said.
Drury will also receive a visit from New England Association of Schools and Colleges for accreditation from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31. NEASC will measure the school in various categories, including core values, expectations, curriculum, instruction, assessment, leadership and resources.
"So they're going to come in and be the eyes and ears to say, 'where are you, are you meeting your core values, beliefs and expectations?'" Meehan said. "They can give us recommendations of how we can improve as a school but also let us know the area of work in our staff that we're doing a good job in and we're going to keep working to bring our school community to the next level."
Amanda Chilson, project director of Mass in Motion, presented ideas that encourage more walker-friendly school areas to promote walking to school.
In a short presentation, Chilson discussed the health benefits of starting a walking route and how it can create a lifelong walking habit. In addition, walking to school can ease traffic congestion and reduce bus stops. She said the program can get rolling by partnering with Safe Routes to School for pedestrian training for crossing guards and creating maps, establishing walking routes to school buses and setting up "walk to school days."
Chilson hopes to establish a task force consisting of multiple agencies, including Public Safety, students, school faculty and staff, School Committee members and more, to keep the program moving.
School Committee member John Hockridge suggested looking into the future at the renovated Conte Middle School. Chilson said she has emailed the external mapping to WalkBoston
, a part of the Safe Routes to School program.
Montepare said even though parents might not be open with changing the mindset of dropping their children off everywhere, it can start as a potential low-to-no cost after-school activity in the midst of budget cuts.
"It's starting small, it's starting simple," Chilson said.
Montepare said bicycles are currently not in the conversation, as they create issues with storage and theft.
"They can't steal walking," Montepare said.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 6, because the normal meeting day falls on election night.