Waltham Schools To Undergo State Review
Review to start next month.
While the Waltham Public Schools have had trouble meeting state MCAS standards in the past several years, the district will soon have some additional help to improve.
Starting on Feb. 13, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be conducting a review of the district. Superintendent Susan Nicholson explained the process to teachers and reporters during a Monday, Jan. 9 meeting at Waltham High School. The visit will end on Feb. 16.
“The end result will be a road map of where we need to go,” Nicholson said in an interview Waltham Patch.
Nicholson said she hopes it mirrors observations she made during her recent transition into the district.
What Prompted The Review (sources: Nicholson and her presentation)
- Although Nicholson did not directly say it, she strongly implied the district’s mediocre MCAS scores and classification as a Level 3 schools promoted the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's review.
- To prove her point, Nicholson pointed to the fact that the DESE’s review includes English Language Arts, Math and Science scores, all of which the MCAS tests.
- Level 3 status is a label issued by the DESE which, in Waltham’s case, means two elementary schools have not made adequate progress in improving MCAS scores over the past several years, according to Nicholson.
- As a result, the DESE provides additional funding to Level 3 district which they can use to improve schools.
Goals Of Review (sources: Nicholson’s presentation)
- DESE officials will aim to collect information on the district’s leadership and governance, curriculum, human resources operations, assessment systems and fiscal management.
- DESE officials are ultimately aiming to identify items that impede the district from improving and improve upon strengths of it.
- “They will be looking at what we do really well,” Nicholson said.
- DESE officials will interview administrators, city official, school committee members, teacher, students and parents to gather an overall picture of the district, according to Nicholson.
- DESE officials also plan to observe classrooms, review documents and conduct focus groups with teachers and parents, according to the presentation.
- Part of the document review process will including verifying that teachers are licensed.
- When the process is complete, the DESE will make recommendations to the school district, according to Nicholson.
- Using the information collected, the DESE will recommend changes intended to improve the district.
- “Their recommendations will be based on our strengths and our challenges,” Nicholson said.