School Committee Hears Secondary School Curriculum Review | News

WILMINGTON — For the school committee meeting last Wednesday evening, Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters, along with several curriculum team leaders, presented the WHS curriculum review.

Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand began by relating the presentation to the Superintendent’s objective for the program review. He explained that this would be a first look at the work the staff have done so far, with recommendations for changes to come in January.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Staff Development, Christine Elliott, said the data she prepared came from researching 30 nearby communities and their curriculum, enrollment and requirements. graduation.

Peters began by outlining changes in the district between fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2022, including reductions in the number of teachers for English, math, physical education, business, and local languages. world. Then they broke down the results by topic.

For English, all other communities surveyed had a 4-year graduation requirement.

In mathematics, Mary Beth Valuk said there was a comparable leveling of grades between schools. She noted that most districts offer courses like computer programming and computer science, which Wilmington does not offer. She also presented the MCAS standards required for graduation.

School committee member Melissa Plowman wondered why the MCAS requirement had increased.

David Ragsdale responded by saying that the new MCAS scores are measured on a different scale. The change was made to allow new grades more time to meet the equivalent efficiency standard on the old scale.

MJ Byrnes asked about the Algebra 1 levels offered. For example, Valuk shared that Shawsheen Tech has four or five different levels of Algebra 1. In their discussions, she said they talked about wanting struggling students to not be separated while still keeping the challenge for everyone.

Peters took over for science and pointed out that the scientific journey of WPS is more complicated than that of other communities. Some include two years of biology, while others require all freshmen to take either biology or physical science courses (not one or the other).

Byrnes asked what Peters would like to see developed on this topic. Peters replied that they would like to see new courses added.

Mark Staffier talked about social studies. He emphasized WPS’ holistic approach to US and world history.

“The idea is for the story to continue,” he said. “We take the overlap and look at it from a holistic perspective.”

He presented this as a unique pro, not something to change.

For world languages, Peters described how most districts offer four or more languages ​​at level 1-5, which Wilmington does not match. However, she said their language course enrollment numbers are comparable. She referred to the percentage of students who take two years of world language: 95% of 9th graders and 86% of 10th graders.

Philips gave a presentation on business, family and consumer science. For business, he mentioned that other schools focus on professional and technical paths. In total, he said Wilmington received 75 section requests for those two departments, but only completed 40.

Peters mentioned some creative offerings in other cities for the visual arts, such as Art as Therapy in Billerica and Art Ideas in Andover. Other differences she shared were that most districts had AP 2D and 3D Design courses.

“The more we can try to expand the course offerings within our ability to do [students] diverse and keeping up with technology, the better,” commented Byrnes.

Anita DiLullo pointed to performing arts, where other schools have only met Wilmington’s offerings in performance-based electives 50% of the time. She recommended rewording the fine arts/performing arts requirement for graduation.

“All Massachusetts students will develop artistic literacy through active participation in the arts,” she said.

However, she mentioned that the performing arts staff is very limited and spread across schools.

Physical education manager Laura Stinson shared that other communities offer classes like yoga, sports, skating and swimming as physical education classes. They were split on the 2- and 4-year health graduation requirements. One thing she wants to see continue is allowing grade 10 students to complete CPR certification in school.

Plowman asked how much these course offerings take into account mental health, and Stinson replied that teachers have been keen to add stress reduction techniques and other social-emotional health considerations over the past two years. . Peters mentioned that last year’s distance physical education teacher focused on mindfulness throughout the year.

Finally, Peters said advisers have been looking closely at the GPA weighting between different course levels. While Wilmington only gives an extra 0.6 points for an AP class, some give a full point.

“The idea is that the bigger point difference will make students more willing to take this course,” she continued.

She also noted that a few districts have eliminated class rankings, since colleges don’t look at rankings past the top 10.

Elliott ended the presentation by thanking all of the Curriculum Team Leaders, Liaisons, and Department Heads who gathered this information. She said they made big hits on other districts and celebrated the good things Wilmington is already doing.