By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The school improvement plans for the 2022-2023 academic year were presented during a recent School Committee meeting.
Similar to previous years, the school improvement plans are connected to the district’s strategic plan. Administrators and educators from all four schools will be working on each plan’s initiatives during professional development days.
The improvement plans for Huckleberry Hill School and Summer Street School include two different initiatives.
The first initiative involves implementing a “cohesive Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) targeting the acquisition of essential mathematics and literacy skills.” According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), MTSS is “a framework for how school districts can build the necessary systems to ensure that each and every student receives a high quality educational experience.”
Huckleberry Hill Principal Melissa Wyland said both elementary schools will be implementing “an intervention block” to provide additional support to students.
“This will be scheduled time in classrooms,” said Wyland. “We are going to use our data team meetings to analyze data to find out what are our students’ needs. We are going to be refocusing our data team meetings in order to utilize that time to make a plan. It’s called a WIN block, which stands for ‘What I Need.’ All of our teachers are going to have common planning time because they will need to spend time together to talk about their students’ needs.”
Wyland and Summer Street School Principal Karen Cronin will also be allocating professional development time for educators to learn about the Universal Design for Learning framework. The nonprofit organization CAST created the UDL framework to “improve teaching and learning practices by using scientific insights into how humans learn.”
According to the plan, school officials and teachers will be working with an inclusion specialist and SEEM Collaborative Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator India Barrows to ensure there is “a constant, equitable focus on continued growth for all students.” Educators will also be focusing on differentiating instruction practices into lessons.
The second initiative in the elementary schools’ improvement plans involves reviewing curriculum, instruction and assessment practices in English language arts, history and social science to ensure students have an equitable access to learning.
Cronin said educators will be implementing a new initiative called “the Science of Reading.”
“We are going to look at how proficient readers develop and why some readers have difficulty,” said Cronin. “We are going to look at the teaching and assessment cycle so that we can try to mitigate any difficulties that students might have. It’s going to require us to review what are we using right now with our readers to give them the foundational skills that they need to move on in school.”
According to the plan, educators will be implementing a “social studies curriculum complete with assessments and a learning plan reflective of a culturally responsive learning community.”
The plan also involves having teachers review “current K-4 literacy curriculum resources and materials for student access and effectiveness, and pilot a comprehensive language arts program.” Grade K-4 educators will also be teaching “foundational literacy skills.”
Lynnfield Middle School
Principal Stephen Ralston said the improvement plan for Lynnfield Middle School involves focusing on differentiated instruction.
Ralston said the plan seeks to “reach and explore deeper differentiation practices for all students across all curricular areas and social-emotional wellness.”
“The goal is to create more personalized experiences for students that engage them in student-centered learning and receive social-emotional supports that meet the needs of all students,” said Ralston. “We know that one-size does not fit all. We are going to adjust our practice to make sure the curriculum and activities are accessible to all students.”
Ralston also said the middle school will be overhauling its tutoring program for English language arts and math because the tutors were eliminated from the fiscal year 2023 school budget. The tutoring positions were also cut from the elementary schools.
“We are going to need to restructure some of our interventions with our classroom teachers to serve the needs of students differently,” said Ralston. “We had the luxury of having tutors in the past, and we won’t have them next year. We are going to need to up our game to support our students.”
In response to a question from School Committee Chair Rich Sjoberg, Superintendent Kristen Vogel explained why the tutoring positions were cut from the budget.
“What we know from research, which has become very evident the last two years, is that students should be receiving interventions from their classroom teacher,” said Vogel. “We know from research that pulling students out of the classroom to provide interventions removes them from high-quality core instruction.”
Ralston said LMS educators will be receiving training on “MTSS and Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies” as well as with using assessment programs such as STAR Renaissance.
“We are going to incorporate more student choice and voice,” Ralston added. “There are different ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned such as a presentation, writing a poem, writing a song or creating a poster. There are different ways students can shine and demonstrate what they know. What we have seen is when students have that choice and voice, they have higher levels of engagement and will challenge themselves.”
Ralston said the middle school will be focusing on the Keys to Content Writing framework to “support the differentiation of the writing process across all subject areas.”
“The middle school will be developing and implementing strategies to address the wide variety of social-emotional learning needs of students within the classroom,” said Ralston. “We are going to continue to work on building equity into curricular materials and instruction.”
School Committee Vice Chair Stacy Dahlstedt inquired if the middle school has looked into allocating time to teach financial literacy skills to students.
Teaching and Learning Director Kevin Cyr said incorporating financial literacy into the secondary schools’ curriculum is currently on the Administrative Leadership Team’s “radar.”
Lynnfield High School
Principal Bob Cleary said the improvement plan for Lynnfield High School entails implementing the second year of the Vision of the Graduate initiative.
Cleary recalled that the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) will be making its decennial visit to the high school in the spring of 2023. He said NEASC is now requiring high schools to implement an initiative called Vision of the Graduate. He said the high school will be revising performance standards for the new initiative.
“We will be integrating the next phase of the Lynnfield High School Vision of the Graduate by creating performance standards that include equity, diversity and social-emotional growth for assessing students towards the five skill areas: Problem solvers, globally aware, advocates for social justice, lifelong learners and communications,” said Cleary. “We are going to expand the Lynnfield High School Vision of the Graduate to include ninth grade students.”
Cleary recalled that a group of students piloted the program this year.
“We took feedback from our students,” said Cleary. “We wanted to include equity to make sure we have the pillars that we need.”
LHS Assistant Principal Brian Bates said teachers will be helping incoming freshmen create a Google Site webpage as part of their portfolio defense. He explained that students will be using the portfolios to archive evidence from their four years of high school. The students will use the evidence they collected in the portfolios to demonstrate they are proficient with the Vision of the Graduate’s focus areas.
“We are going to have freshmen focus on two pieces of evidence for each of the skill areas that they can put into that Google Site,” said Bates. “It’s where they will keep all of their work.”
Bates said it’s going to take LHS four years to fully implement the Vision of the Graduate initiative.
School Committeeman Phil McQueen noted that the Vision of the Graduate initiative is a “massive undertaking.” He asked if upperclassmen could also participate in the new initiative.
“As we get our freshmen ready, anybody can jump in if they want to take that on,” said Cleary.
School Committee member Jamie Hayman expressed his support for the improvement plans for all four schools.
“There is no question that academic rigor is happening and is a key part of what we are doing in the schools,” said Hayman.
The School Committee will be voting on the improvement plans before the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.