Adams-Cheshire Elementary Schools Improving
By Jack Guerino
03:57AM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Both Adams-Cheshire Regional School District elementary schools have seen increased standardized test scores.
Last month, Superintendent Kristen Gordon was notified that Cheshire Elementary School moved from a Level 3 on the state’s accountability rankings to a Level 2.
Gordon attributes the success to the Bay State Reading Institute (BSRI) Program and added instructional coaches who helped implement a program that focuses on “rigor, high engagement of students, and accountability.”
“We saw great gains in both schools. I attribute it to the extra support we put in place such as the Bay State Reading Institute Program, and I think it was a huge,” Gordon said. “The teachers have done a lot of hard work around it.”
In a press release, Gordon added that over the past few years, staff has been increasing efforts to raise standardized test scores.
“You’d see teachers’ cars at the schools at 8 o’clock at night and on Sundays. They were willing to do whatever I asked. I had and have the best staff, the best administrators, and the best School Committee,” she said.
Although C.T. Plunkett received no level increase this year, Gordon reported that Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test scores have risen, including an 86 percent increase in fifth-graders scoring proficient or advanced in English language arts.
The district as a whole remains at Level 3 because districts are leveled by their lowest performing school. However, Gordon said she is ready for more growth.
“There’s a sense of urgency. We know we can’t wait years to see more growth. We want to see growth at the next meeting, in three weeks,” Gordon said. “It’s different, and it’s rejuvenating.”
With the success of the BSRI Program, Gordon told the School Committee on Monday night there are plans to visit a Chicopee middle school that was able to jump from a Level 3 to a Level 1 using a similar program. The school also has many of the same issues Adams-Cheshire faces.
Gordon also announced that District and School Assistance Centers has granted the district $32,225 to help fund the continuation of the program.
In other business, the superintendent said upcoming staff negotiations may be more difficult with the state pushing standardized test scores to be used when rating teachers. She added that Level 1 schools may be granted the title “best practice schools,” which she feels is unfair for districts like Adams-Cheshire with more special needs and economically disadvantaged students.
“Best practice schools are not the only schools where you are seeing best practices,” Gordon said. “Our teachers work so hard every day and it feels like they just have another thing to contend with.”
The School Committee also shared disappointment that Gov. Charlie Baker failed to visit any Adams-Cheshire schools during his visit to Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School in December.
“I am disappointed that the governor was literally right across the street from C.T. Plunkett, a low scoring school with a high population of low-income kids, and he didn’t even do the research to walk across the street and say hello,” Gordon said. “I know his schedule is tight, and I get it, but it was right across the street.”