Ms. Hessler and Ms. Dobrow said that this will be Mr. Peery’s last meeting and gave him three gifts to use in his spare time. Mr. Peery said that it has been an honor to serve on the School Committee, that the Committee’s goal has been to better the education of the district’s students, and that the Committee has enjoyed the support of parents, teachers, and the administration. Ms. Dobrow said that this would be the last full meeting chaired by Mr. Picker and she and Ms. Hessler presented Mr. Picker with presents to use in his free time. Mr. Picker thanked them and said that it has been rewarding to serve on the School Committee.
Ms. Borgert said that she and Ms. Cruise went to the first grade breakfast that was held at Hanscom and that it was wonderful.
Becky Eston who was on the teachers’ negotiating team said that the School Committee and the administration dealt fairly, honestly and professionally with them. Terry Nathanson, also on the teacher’s negotiating team, said that there had been good cooperation and respect. Mr. Peery said that negotiating was a privilege because there was respect on both sides and that the contract will allow advances for the district over the next three years. Ms. Hessler said that the negotiators really did come together over the question of how best to meet the ultimate objective of the best education of the children.
Maria Hylton asked about the change the length of the school day. Mr. Peery said that there can be some ambiguity in how instructional time is counted, and that delayed openings due to weather can affect the annual totals. The agreed addition of 5 additional minutes to the school day would give a margin of safety to insure compliance with the state regulations. Ms. Hessler said that Hanscom gets out 15 minutes earlier on Wednesdays than Lincoln and that dismissal times will now be the same for the two locations. Mr. Brandmeyer recognized the teachers present from the negotiating team, Becky Eston and Terry Nathanson, as well as the other members of the team.
Ms. Groden provided an example of how the specialists provide program oversight and teacher support describing her teaching in the first grade classrooms with the first grade teachers and how this helps with her work on curriculum and differentiation of teaching.
Kathy O’Connell described how she helps when a teacher is trying to get a handle on a child’s approach to learning using different assessment tools, both formal and informal. Carolyn Shannon talked about working with the 4th and 5th grade teams to preview each math unit they are teaching. Mr. Naso said that the specialists play a key role in improving articulation of the curriculum in math. The written report includes a current draft of the district’s math topics, K-6 and one strand for two grades showing how learning expectations will be communicated.
Mr. Naso said that the Math Specialists are also involved in facilitating the transition from Grade 8 in Middle School to Grade 9 in High School. Information was collected regarding the number of students placed in the two highest levels of math at Lincoln Sudbury. Ms. O’Connell has talked with Lincoln Sudbury teachers about the transition and the teachers say that students are well prepared. Ms. O’Connell has also talked with some 9th grade students about their transition to the high school and their experience in the Intensive Geometry class, the highest level offered at Lincoln Sudbury. She said that the students reported that adjusting to a class of over 400 students from a class of roughly 70 students is a hard transition for them. They said that the pace of the Intensive Geometry class is fast and that if they fall behind it is their responsibility to catch up. They said that the first 4 to 6 weeks were very challenging. They felt well prepared but sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of Sudbury students.
For the transition from Hanscom to Bedford High School, information was collected to show which levels Hanscom students are assigned to in the high school. Ms. Shannon noted that Bedford High School has recommended that the Hanscom students not take the 18 month course of Continuing Algebra/Geometry because many students would have to leave the area before completion of the course and placement at another school would be hard. Parents can and do opt for this placement in some cases where they will be staying in this location.
Regarding differentiation of teaching, Mr. Naso said that the math specialists are knowledgeable about the variability of students, their different rates and paces of learning. The specialists also consider when teaching can be differentiated and when it is better to do something separate for certain students. The three math specialists are currently teaching a course for Lincoln District teachers in differentiating math instruction.
The math specialists are a resource for the teachers in evaluating the many opportunities for professional development Mr. Naso also said that the specialists evaluate supplemental resources and materials.
Becky Eston , a kindergarten teacher in the Lincoln School said that having a specialist in school has been a significant improvement. It is important to have the opportunity to meet and think about content and practice. Terry Nathanson, a middle school teacher in the Lincoln School, said that the specialists have added a new dimension and that they have been a welcome addition to the department.
Mr. Picker thanked Mr. Naso and the specialists for the report and said that it gave a clear picture of what the district is getting out of the investment in these positions. The Committee discussed the importance of sharing the work that the math specialists are doing with a broader audience, the value of providing parents with a template of what is expected, and the value of teachers sharing what they have learned in professional development with other teachers. The Committee also discussed the importance of continuing this progress but also on the desire to expand this type of work to other areas of the curriculum.
Mr. Picker asked about the turnover in the student population at Hanscom and the math specialists’ role in helping teachers evaluate what new arrivals know. Ms. Shannon evaluates every new Middle School student with a grade level specific exam. She said that a students will sometimes report that they have taken algebra, which really turns out to be pre-algebra, and that this confusion arises partly because of regional differences in course names. Ms. Groden assesses new students as requested by their teachers.
Ms. Borgert commented that the Hanscom curriculum is designed to prepare students for Bedford High School but that 1/3 of the middle school students will have moved by the 10th grade. Many students will not go to Bedford High School and they need to be prepared to go elsewhere. It was noted that Hanscom levels Middle School math classes while Lincoln does not. Ms. Shannon said that math is important for Hanscom students for their 9th grade because physics, which is highly math dependent, is taught at the ninth grade level at Bedford High School.
Ms. Cruise asked about math enrichment for 5th and 6th students at Hanscom. Cathy Rogers said that Lincoln parents want to know about the criteria for participation in math enrichment. Mr. Naso said that the District does not want to think in terms of a category of students so much as a students’ need for something different for a particular unit. The District is seeking effective ways to work with students for a period of time or for the whole year. Ms. Groden said they are using pre-unit assessment to determine which students might benefit from enrichment. She also said that enrichment materials are also being made available to teachers.
Maria Hylton, a parent, observed that the amount of time spent on math varies from teacher to teacher in grades K to five in the Lincoln School. Mr. Naso said that there is no formal guideline as to the amount of time which must be spent on math but that he is working to help teachers understand that the time must be put spent in order to get results. As the District Learning Expectations become more specific, it will be appropriate to ask what we need to do to reach these expectations and what that means in terms of time.
Laurie Manos asked about how the MCAS math scores are used to guide curriculum work. Ms. O’Connell gave an example of how she has used analysis of those scores to identify specific changes needed in the curriculum. She noticed that there were two questions on probability in the fourth grade test and that Lincoln students consistently did not do well on these questions. More content on probability has been added to the 3rd and 4th grade curriculum as a result.
Ms. D’Alessandro said that when she joined the Hanscom Middle School 14 years ago instrumental music was part of the program but that this program became more of an afternoon program because of difficulty hiring people for the right slots and that the school is now trying to rebuild. At Hanscom, only music class and chorus are offered during the school day. Instrumental music is offered as an after-school activity with close to 100 students taking after-school private lessons and there is interest in bringing instrumental music instruction back into to school day. Only about six students participate in ensembles and the school would like to see more students participate. Hanscom would be interested in adding in school group lessons and exposing students in 4th and 5th grades to instrumental music.
The Committee discussed the success of this year’s concert, the desire for more cross campus collaboration, the state of the Lincoln campus pianos, and concerns that outside fund raising be directed broadly towards all performing arts rather than just music. Cathy Rogers asked about outside funding sources and how far this funding goes into the future. A Lincoln School Foundation grant is for only this year. The Codman Trust grant continues for one more year.
Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the Lincoln School will be presenting Fiddler on the Roof next week. The Hanscom first grade breakfast was great and Mr. Brandmeyer congratulated Jane Ward, all the first grade teachers, and parents who worked on it.
Three of the four capital spending warrant articles are on the consent calendar, and may not come up for discussion. Slides have been prepared to support each warrant article at Town Meeting. Ms. Dobrow will be prepared to present the articles on classroom rehab and technology purchases and Mr. Peery will take care of the purchase of a van and the removal of the canopies at the Hartwell pods.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary