School Committee Presents Updated NEASC Report and Changes to Student Handbook

LONGMEADOW — There was an important discussion about ways to keep Longmeadow Public Schools running at a standard pace while finding new ways to improve student achievement at the April 27 meeting of the board of directors. Longmeadow School.

Longmeadow High School received accreditation from the New England Association of School Colleges (NEASC), November 9-10, 2020.

According to the NEASC website, “The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is an independent, voluntary, nonprofit organization that partners with more than 1,500 public, independent, and international schools in the United States and around the world. world to assess, support and promote high quality education. for all students through accreditation.

As the website explains, accreditation is not a one-time event but rather a “…continuous and voluntary cycle of comprehensive internal and external assessments, short- and long-term strategic planning, and periodic reporting. supported by professional partnership and support”. In order to be considered for NEASC accreditation, schools must apply, demonstrate that they have in place basic structures, policies and systems to support a “quality learning environment”. If the school is recognized as a candidate for accreditation, the cycle begins.

The accreditation cycle involves several stages: personal reflection, peer review, follow-up, and ongoing partnership and support.

As school committee members explained, NEASC encourages school improvement and provides a means for schools to develop and identify solutions that they can incorporate into district improvement efforts.

Longmeadow Secondary School Principal Thomas Landers is set to create a growth plan by December 2022 in which NEASC will bring a team of eight to 10 educators to the school. The growth plan will consist of recommendations made by NEASC.

For a specific list of recommendations made by NEASC to the School Committee, the full video of the meeting can be viewed at Several of the points that the NEASC recommended focusing on were points that the secondary school themselves had identified during the self-reflection period.

A few points being the development of a graduate vision, expanding the use of common assessments, developing and implementing a framework of grading practices aligned with the school’s beliefs about learning and complete the career readiness vision.

Landers expressed that he had high hopes of realizing and completing the growth plan before the summer break. Landers believes the growth plan will refer to a school improvement plan, rationale for goals, responsible persons, time/resources needed, measures, mix of growth, and recommendations. He hinted that the growth plan will improve the culture and daily practice.

Longmeadow High School’s math department chair, Meredith Laughlin, explained how she and her staff prepared a report for NEASC and their visit. “All the staff came together very well to write the report and provide support. Next coming year, I will assure you that the implementation of the works will be carried out to prepare for the 2022 visit. There will be meetings with committees, administration, students and teachers. We will continue the process to work on our creation,” she said.

Landers said working with NEASC has been a collaborative experience.

He said: “It was much more like they were there to help you, not in some kind of ‘gotcha’. It was intense to prepare, a little anxious to have people looking over your shoulder and seeing what you’re doing, but they really went out of their way to try to be partners and support you.

During the growth plan, there will be an adjustment for a column of time and resources that will gravitate towards achieving the goal of making graduates a priority area. The focus will be on supporting college readiness and career awareness in the classroom. There will be additional support for synthesis efforts in which they will be applicable in real life, develop presentation skills, and help students receive feedback.

An expansion of a level two program began this year – the aim of this program is to get students to reflect on their own growth and learn skills such as communication and problem solving. The plan is to have a classroom where students can get direct support in English, reading, math, algebra, geometry, and general organizational thresholds.

Superintendent Mr. Martin O’Shea said, “It fits well with our focus on inclusivity, we want the child’s experience to be personalized. We want this experience to match their interests such as passions, backgrounds and all those things that promote a graduate.

Currently, Longmeadow Schools have an atlas to help reflect what will be applied in certain classes. The school committee agreed that they wanted to push assessments and be more project-oriented. Rubrics will be a useful source as well as a detailed feedback form for projects.

Longmeadow Secondary School Vice-Principal Paul Dunkerley went over the new changes to the student handbook. The first change to the student manual is the dress code, which will have less gender-based language. They also decided to remove the “fingertip rule” measurement, which required clothing to be at least as long as the fingertips when their arms were at their sides.

School committee member Giana Allentuck said someone should feel comfortable with what they’re wearing and not be ashamed of their clothes.

The term ‘physical education’ has been removed from the textbook and replaced with ‘wellness’.

The policy for students using electronics has been changed. The manual now states that “personal electronic devices” should not be used during school hours.

Personal electronic devices that will not be tolerated are smartphones, smart watches, tablets and similar devices. The school gave all students Chromebooks for assigned work. Chromebooks should only be used with teacher permission.

Finally, Academic Honesty has been reviewed and modified based on the COVID-19 change, which involved students being distanced. There will be more consequences as some students who were at home had appeared to participate in academic dishonesty. Teachers attempted to give more oral tests to reduce cheating, but the problem arose when writing essays.

School board member Susan Bell said: “The research into academic pressures, academic stress and strain is absolutely very real and is linked to abuses in college admissions, grades, competition .” She suggested thinking about authentic learning rather than testing and spreading a skill.

The reasons why the committee felt that students might be inclined to be academically dishonest were discussed, including the significant pressure placed on students graduating while waiting for college and status, students are constantly watching their GPA, and more.

Authentic-style assessments, more project-based examinations, and invigilators have been suggested as ways to improve academic dishonesty.

Longmeadow schools have returned to in-person learning five days a week. Approximately 85.9% of Longmeadow students attend school in person. This leaves 14.1% of students still distant, but the figure continues to decline.

School committee chairman Ryan Kelly said, “If you see 86% of our students come in person, it’s very important that everyone continues to follow the CDC’s changing rules to stay healthy.”