BArT Receives Grant for Collaboration with Local School Districts

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ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, a tuition-free public school serving students in grades six through 12 from a number of Massachusetts communities within the Berkshires, has been selected by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to receive a $244,070 grant to support a collaborative project with the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District and the North Adams Public School District.

BArT proposed the collaborative project to the Massachusetts Dissemination Program for charter schools. Long a champion of the informed collection and use of data to continuously improve teaching and student academic outcomes, BArT has an ongoing partnership with Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and the Data Wise project. The dissemination grant will facilitate BArT's middle school mathematics teachers sharing with middle school teachers within the North Adams and Adams-Cheshire districts practices that support improvement of middle school math performance using the Data Wise model as a continuous cycle of inquiry.

"With an abundance of data but not sure at the time on what data we should focus to improve student academic performance, we at BArT adopted the Data Wise Improvement Process nearly a decade ago," said Jay White, executive director of BArT and project coordinator for the Dissemination grant. "BArT teachers have learned to use the data cycle, Data Wise, and expertise of the Achievement Network (ANet) in the years since to help them collaboratively measure student performance and continuously improve learning among our middle school students. The Massachusetts Dissemination Program is a fantastic means for us to share what we are learning with our colleagues in the North Adams and Adams-Cheshire school districts."

One of only seven institutions across the Commonwealth to be selected to receive a grant from the competitive Massachusetts Dissemination Program, BArT will for two years administer the grant, which provides funds to support the collaborative work of the middle- school mathematics teachers as well as provide on-site training by certified Data Wise and ANet experts.

"The ACRSD looks forward to participating in the Data Wise training and using the Achievement Network data, training, and resources that we could not otherwise afford. I also believe that developing common practices across our districts will benefit the students because we are all serving the same population," said Robert Putnam, superintendent of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

Barbara Malkas, superintendent of the North Adams Public School District, emphasized the importance of continuing what her district has already begun.

"The District Data Team had adopted and received preliminary training in the use of the Data Wise cycle of inquiry this past spring. We saw this grant opportunity as a means of expanding the use of data-informed decision-making in our schools and in a content area for increased student achievement," she said. "It is also an opportunity to build collaboration and professional capacity regionally through a dynamic sharing of best practices across schools and districts."

BArT is a nationally recognized, award-winning, tuition-free, public middle and high school focused on preparing students for college.


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Suffrage Centennial Committee Kicks Off Yearlong Celebration

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Cassandra Peltier as Alva Belmont Vanderbilt, a prominent figure in the suffrage movement.
ADAMS, Mass. — About 75 people filled The Manor on Saturday afternoon for the kickoff event of a yearlong celebration of Susan B. Anthony and the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
The event at St. John Paul II Parish's Italianate mansion was organized by the Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee. The committee serves as an advisory committee to the Board of Selectmen. 
Anthony was born in Adams and was a social reformer best known for spearheading the women's suffrage movement. She was also involved in the anti-slavery movement, collecting signatures for petitions as a teen, the temperance (prohibition of alcohol) movement, and women's financial rights.
Retired school teacher Mary Whitney, committee member and host for the day, shared why Anthony's work was so important. 
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