Hadley School Committee outlines metrics and improvement plans

HADLEY — Student progress, additional learning support and English Language Learner (ELL) assessments were on the agenda at Hadley’s September 12 school committee meeting.

Brooke Fernandes led a presentation on changes in student reading levels throughout the district and the selection criteria for Title I support. high risk or a certain level of reading. They also take the Gates MacGinitie Reading Test, which ranks students on a Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE). If students receive an NCE below 40, they are considered eligible for Title I support. The annual Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) is also a valuable tool; students are selected for additional academic support if they are six months or more below grade level. Finally, teacher and family feedback is used to complete the student profile.

Fernandes shared the results of this year’s DRA. The assessment measures proficiency in writing concepts, phonological awareness, and decoding skills. 64% of 12th graders did a growth year, compared to 67% of second graders, 40% of third graders, 100% of fourth graders, 50% of fifth graders, and 22% of sixth grade students.

The next steps in addressing students who are falling behind in their grades involve Orton Gillingham’s initial and advanced literacy training, as well as McGraw-Hill’s Wonders program. There will be ongoing weekly progress monitoring, as well as FASTBridge screening three times a year. Title I support is limited to elementary school, but Hopkins Academy students are also screened so those who need it can receive specialized attention in their classrooms.

Hopkins Academy head teacher Ruthann Fitzgibbons provided an update on the school trip scheduled for April 2023. Honduras was the original destination, but several families have expressed concerns about the safety of the region. Fitzgibbons met Eric Warner, the president of Squads Abroad, the organization coordinating the trip. He maintained that the trip to Honduras would be “very safe”, but noted that many other schools planning to go on the same trip have changed their destination to Guatemala.

This is a service trip, primarily to help a local school strengthen their efforts and support the class. Guatemala and Honduras are both rated Level 3 by the State Department’s security rating, but Guatemala would likely be a cheaper trip due to the lack of flights serving Honduras and transportation costs within. from the country. Additionally, students would have a police escort and a doctor to accompany them on their travels. After some deliberation, the board voted to change the destination of the trip to Guatemala. Travel details will be discussed at a later meeting.

Michelle Wojtowicz was next with a presentation on the role of the SEL/MTSS coach in the school. SEL stands for Social and Emotional Learning, while MTSS stands for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. The role is divided into three main responsibilities: curriculum implementation, assessment and teacher support.

The implementation of the program revolves around three systems. Fly Five is a K-8 social and emotional learning program founded on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. The responsive classroom model is an evidence-based approach to teaching and discipline that promotes positive community and developmental awareness. Positive Behavior Support is the third pillar of the program, focusing on positive behavior reinforcement.

The coaching assessment section involves universal projections for literacy and math. K-6 students are selected through FastBridge, while 7-12 students use MAP. Screenings are also done for social, emotional and behavioral skills using the SAEBRS method for K-12. Students in grades 5-12 are selected using the mySAEBRS offshoot.

The SEL/MTSS coach also provides support to teachers. It is a two-pronged approach. First, the coach offers multi-session professional development throughout the year, such as the launch of PBIS at Hopkins Academy coupled with additional SEB topics over six sessions in the 2022-23 school year. Second, the coach also engages in individual teacher support through classroom coaching. The coach practices goal setting with teachers and evaluates them at regular intervals.

The overall goal of the SEL/MTSS program is that at least 80% of students meet academic, social, and behavioral expectations.

Superintendent Anne McKenzie detailed the qualification requirements for students in the ELL program. Each time a new student enrolls in Hadley Public Schools, they receive a home language survey. If anything other than English is listed, they are reviewed and tested. If their score falls within a certain range, they are offered English as a Second Language (ESL) student status. Families have the option to opt out of the program, but rarely do they choose to do so.

After their second year in the program, ESL students take a language proficiency test in addition to the MCAS. The language proficiency score is out of 6; students must score 4.2 or higher to exit the program. Former ESL students are closely monitored for three years after leaving to guard against relapse. If such a setback is detected, students receive further instructions and may return to the program depending on the circumstances. This monitoring after leaving is a legal obligation.

McKenzie said ESL numbers have dropped in recent years. Currently, 14 students are ELL-graded in the Hadley District. In the most recent assessment, 40% of ESL students achieved their progression goal. McKenzie was careful to note that while that number has fallen 13% over the past year, those in the 40% have shown “aggressive growth.” The 2021-2022 school year has been “tough” in McKenzie’s words. When asked for a possible explanation for the drop in progress goals, she felt it was at least partly due to home learning over the past year. Since ESL students did not speak English at home as they would have at school, there may have been some regression. Although there is more need within the ESL department, the declining ELL population means that funding and resources can be focused more on individualized students with more personalized attention in the future.

A few quick announcements closed the meeting. CES meetings resume on September 21. Hopkins Academy has a new athletic director, director of food services and a nurse. The new energy efficiency policy for schools has been voted. September 20 will be the first day of the single-tier system; Hopkins Academy will have a delayed start, while Hadley Elementary has an early exit. Detailed bus information will be available when this article is published. Finally, the World’s Community Expo will take place at the Hadley Public Library on September 23 between 5 and 7 p.m., featuring many international foods.

Further information is available in the events section of the Hadley Learns website.