Thursday, December 4, 2014

Report of the Superintendent: Exam School

I have this only in print; I'll post photos of it once I get home; posting as we go
Petty: we will hold the item so people can think about it for the December 18 meeting
"I think this is very important...going to be another offering...committee is very sensitive to how it will affect the other Worcester Public Schools"
Boone: working on this for the past 18 months
"spent a lot of time...doing additional research of what's happening with advanced learners"
important that the School Committee and the public had a chance to see it without the public already vetting it
Ad Hoc committee working from January 2013 to June 2013 for a final report
state of Massachusetts is virtually silent on gifted and advanced learners, but Worcester has such programs:
  • Goddard Scholars at Sullivan and South: have been continuously accepted to excellent colleges across the country; innovation academy at Sullivan
  • Burncoat quadrant arts magnet program
  • 23 AP courses offered across the district 
  • dual enrollment through colleges and universities locally
"I want to be clear...This pilot innovation academy is not designed to replace, supplant, or undermine any of our existing options...The district will continue strong support for and enhancement of those existing programs."
"this is in addition to, not instead of"
key recommendations of Ad-Hoc committee that are being included: 

"Students who have demonstrated exceptional interest in and ability to be successful in a rigorous high school program of studies leading to advanced college readiness"

No grade level to exceed 63 students; total student population of 250
beginning with grade 9 (possibly 10) and adding a year
recommendation is to have it be an IB school
ninth and tenth grade prepares student for IB courses in 11 and 12 grades
strong liberal arts component and Theory of Knowledge
students have either a certificate or diploma option


  • application
  • grades from prior and current year
  • MCAS or other state assessment scores
  • transcripts
  • essay
  • teacher recommendation
  • attendance history
  • discipline history
application process coordinated by district BUT reviewed and processed by local higher ed institutions to keep it a blind to politics process
a rubric will be developed
weighed scores for honors classes, pre-algebra, foreign language
"we see this as an opportunity for the readiness aspect of this program"
lottery will be held if there are more students than slots

proposed budget is a planning year then rollling out from ninth grade
planning year: appointment of assistant principal, IB coordinator (which is required by IB) and clerical position
"there is a process for admission to IB...they will vet us"
"this planning year is significant to get that IB piece up and running"
will finalize admission process and criteria
support marketing and recruitment process and materials
budget assumes dedicated teachers for the cohort (which is more or less required as well; teachers have to be IB certified)
first group of students for 2016-17 school year
advisory council to be compromised of community members, higher ed, ex-officio SC member, and parents
to advise district on the start up
program evaluation for the pilot will be designed in partnership with higher education, led by Dave Perda

timeline: on December 18 agenda
at least one public hearing late this year
looking at facilities for site survey and early spring
SC votes in April
included in May 2015 budget proposal
June: assistant principal and IB coordinator appointed
July staff positions
August: Advisory Council appointed

Monfredo: would you like questions in advance?
Boone: yes, that would be very beneficial
"sounds like a great concern would be the funding of the mechanism"
O'Connell: asking for the siting of the program specifically at next meeting
"raise concerns as well if the school would have the space to handle that"
Boone: will not have that information available by the 18th; is intent to have that in concert with public hearing
"we are not at a place to have that available in two weeks"
O'Connell: look at criteria for admission
"not an exam school in any respect...I'm just going to point out here that Mr. O'Connell is recapitulating his (minority view) arguments that he made at the Ad-Hoc committee when we were having this conversation. Essentially he's convinced that anything other than an exam as an admission requirement is "less rigorous."
Petty: I disagree with some of that..timeline is very clear, going to have a meeting at Doherty
disagree with you on the IB program..."there is no way that someone could go through this program"
Boone: "passing an exam is not a 100% indicator of future success"
"we can bounce that tennis ball across the court any number of ways"

Sorry, no full notes from me, but two main points: appreciate that this work isn't being put on the shelf and YOUR VOICE IS NEEDED IN THIS CONVERSATION! PLEASE PLAN ON WEIGHING IN!

Biancheria: admission, worked on community piece
student essay: would we determine what the topic would be on, or would it be a choice?
Boone: single essay topic, changing from year to year


No comments: