Congratulations Mr. Smithson!
Mr. Bradd Smithson was recently inducted into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators. Bradd has taught here at JGMS for the past 31 years, has attended and presented at numerous national conferences, and served as our curriculum coordinator. Most impressive is his endearing enthusiasm for teaching which is and has been seen by thousands of students. This acknowledgement of his achievements is both prestigious and well deserved.
Congratulations Mr. Smithson!
In the current school year, Massachusetts will be adopting new science standards that will balance core ideas with practices. The Science Technology and Engineering Practices make sure that students can reason scientifically and technologically about the world and are integrated with content that can be applied in relevant real world situations.
The shift in the revised standards focuses on three themes:
Relevance: Organized around core explanatory ideas that explain the world around us
Rigor: Central role for science and engineering practices with concepts
Coherence: ideas and practices build across time and between disciplines
In addition there is a shift in curriculum and instruction related to the standards. The goal of teaching shifts from facts and concepts to explaining phenomena. Inquiry- and design-based learning is not a separate activity; all STE learning should involve engaging in practices to build and use knowledge. The standards involve building a coherent storyline across time.
The public is being welcome to provide feedback on the standards during the next month. It is anticipated that the standards will be voted on for adoption in January. To view the standards please visit, STEM review DESE.
The graphic below llustrates the multi-year process to revise, gather public feedback and adopt the new science curriculum standards.
The new standards help students develop and apply the eight science and engineering practices. Below are the practices that are integrated with the standards.
1. Asking questions and defining problems
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
If you would like to comment or have questions on the standards, please send them to the following:
Last school year, John Glenn Middle School students participated in the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC) in all grades. Students in grades sixth, seventh and eighth took the PARCC exam in English Language Arts and Mathematics using computers. 8th grade students also participated in the Science, Engineering and Design MCAS. The MCAS test results will be mailed home, however the feedback of student performance on the PARCC exam is a bit more involved. The PARCC online assessment is considered to be part of a 'test drive' by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE). The info-graphic below, from the MDESE, puts the 'test drive' PARCC implementation process into context, especially in light of reporting timelines.
As you can see, our students participated in the spring 2015 PARCC test, which was a choice left up to each school by the state. According to a recent Worcester Telegram article, the decision to select PARCC or MCAS was fairly mixed across the state, "In total, about 54 percent of elementary and middle schools in the state opted for the PARCC, while 46 percent stuck with MCAS. The broken-up score release format this year also means school systems will have to wait a little longer for their accountability data from the state, including school and district rankings, which the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education expects to release in late fall or early winter, after the PARCC results are released."
The MDESE has released preliminary results for the spring 2015 MCAS and PARCC, however the data is not yet available at the district, school or student level. What data has been released by the MDESE reveals an overall trend that MCAS performance appears to be higher than PARCC. More information can be found on the MDESE website in a September 21st press release titled, "State Releases Statewide MCAS Results and Preliminary MCAS Results: MCAS improve in most areas, preliminary PARCC results highlight challenges".
The chart below illustrates some of the preliminary statewide PARCC data for computer-based testing from the spring 2015 assessment. Please note that our JGMS students took the computer-based PARCC test. The MDESE summarized the results, "The preliminary PARCC results showed that in most grades, students who took PARCC math and English language arts tests on a computer were less likely to score in the "meeting expectations" range than MCAS students were to score Proficient or above. In other words, student achievement on PARCC for those who took the test on a computer appears to have been lower than for students who took MCAS. The exception was in grade 4, where the percent of students who scored in the 'meeting expectations' range on a computerized PARCC test and the percent of students who scored Proficient or above on MCAS were virtually the same."
PARCC uses five performance levels that delineate the knowledge, skills, and practices students are able to demonstrate:
• Level 1: Did not yet meet expectations
• Level 2: Partially met expectations
• Level 3: Approached expectations
• Level 4: Met expectations
• Level 5: Exceeded expectations
The state offers the following resource to help parents and community members understand when test results will become available at the school and student levels for the PARCC test administered in the spring of 2015.
Previously in other states, feedback regarding student performance on PARCC was detailed in score reports. The reports use graphics, colors and detailed descriptions to show how each student performed on the English language arts/literacy and mathematics portions of the test. The reports show how well children are meeting the knowledge and skills expected of students at their grade level, and how their performance compares to peers in the school, district, and multi-state consortium. The reports also contain helpful links for parents to access more information.
Below is an example score report from PARCC.
More information about PARCC is available here.
We would like to share with you the details of the John Glenn Middle School Parent-Teacher Conference sign-up process. As you know, dates scheduled for parent and teacher conferences are:
• October 14th from 1-4pm
• October 28th from 4-7pm
• November 3rd from 8:30am – 12 pm.
The JGMS Parent-Teacher conferences sign-up process is completed entirely on-line using the signupgenius.com for parents to reserve time slots and meet with teachers.
The format for Parent-Teacher Conferences for the academic subjects of English, Science, Math and Social Studies is team based. As you are aware, 6th grade students are either on the Yellow or Orange teams. This means that you will have the opportunity to meet with all of four academic teachers simultaneously to discuss your student, should you reserve a time slot to do so. Parents are encouraged to only reserve one time slot for the team based conferences if there is a pressing need.
As you know JGMS adheres to an open door policy and that parents/guardians are always welcome to directly contact faculty members and raise concerns. The duration of all Parent-Teacher conferences is in ten minute time slots, so punctuality is a necessity.
The format for our Parent-Teacher Conferences for all foreign language, special education, reading, speech, and ELL teachers will be individual and these links appear on the following page. Lastly, all Arts and Wellness teachers will be located in the JGMS cafeteria and parents will not need to reserve a time slot and can drop in.
If you have any questions about this matter, please call the main office or guidance at 781-275-3201. As always, should you have questions concerning your student's academic progress please contact the teacher or team directly.
Mr. Kevin Tracey