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Commission on Public Secondary Schools
Report of the Visiting Committee for
Fall Mountain Regional High School Langdon, New Hampshire
March 18-21, 2012
Janette Radowicz, CHAIR Kenneth Proulx, ASSISTANT CHAIR Thomas Ronning, PRINCIPAL
New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
209 Burlington Road, Suite 201, Bedford, MA 01730-1433 TEL. 781-271-0022 FAX 781-271-0950 www.neasc.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... 3 Statement on Limitations ............................................................................................................ 4 Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 5 Overview of Findings .................................................................................................................. 7 Quality of the Self-Study Discussion of Significant Findings regarding Teaching and Learning and the Support of Teaching and Learning School and Community Summary ............................................................................................ 9 School’s Statement of Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations ........................... 11 Teaching and Learning Standards........................................................................................... 13 Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations ....................................................... 14 Curriculum ...................................................................................................................... 18 Instruction ........................................................................................................................ 24 Assessment of and for Student Learning .................................................................... 29 Support of Teaching and Learning Standards ........................................................................ 35 School Culture and Leadership .................................................................................... 36 School Resources for Learning...................................................................................... 42 Community Resources for Learning ............................................................................ 50 Follow-Up Responsibilities ....................................................................................................... 55
APPENDICES A. B. Roster of Visiting Committee Members Commission Policy on Substantive Change
STATEMENT ON LIMITATIONS
THE DISTRIBUTION, USE, AND SCOPE OF THE VISITING COMMITTEE REPORT The Commission on Public Secondary Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges considers this visiting committee report of Fall Mountain Regional High School to be a privileged document submitted by the Commission on Public Secondary Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to the principal of the school and by the principal to the state department of education. Distribution of the report within the school community is the responsibility of the school principal. The final visiting committee report must be released in its entirety within sixty days (60) of its completion to the superintendent, school board, public library or town office, and the appropriate news media. The prime concern of the visiting committee has been to assess the quality of the educational program at Fall Mountain Regional High School in terms of the Commission's Standards for Accreditation. Neither the total report nor any of its subsections is to be considered an evaluation of any individual staff member but rather a professional appraisal of the school as it appeared to the visiting committee.
INTRODUCTION The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) is the oldest of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States. Since its inception in 1885, the Association has awarded membership and accreditation to those educational institutions in the six-state New England region who seek voluntary affiliation. The governing body of the Association is its Board of Trustees which supervises the work of six Commissions: the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), the Commission on Independent Schools (CIS), the Commission on Public Secondary Schools (CPSS), the Commission on Technical and Career Institutions (CTCI), the Commission on Public Elementary and Middle Schools (CPEMS), and the Commission on American and International Schools Abroad (CAISA). As the responsible agency for matters of the evaluation and accreditation of public secondary school member institutions, CPSS requires visiting committees to assess the degree to which the evaluated schools meet the qualitative Standards for Accreditation of the Commission. Those Standards are: Teaching and Learning Standards Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations Curriculum Instruction Assessment of and for Student Learning Support of Teaching and Learning Standards School Culture and Leadership School Resources for Learning Community Resources for Learning The accreditation program for public schools involves a threefold process: the self-study conducted by the local professional staff, the on-site evaluation conducted by the Commission's visiting committee, and the follow-up program carried out by the school to implement the findings of its own self-study and the valid recommendations of the visiting committee and those identified by the Commission in the Follow-Up process. Continued accreditation requires that the school be reevaluated at least once every ten years and that it show continued progress addressing identified needs. Preparation for the Evaluation Visit - The School Self-Study A steering committee of the professional staff was appointed to supervise the myriad details inherent in the school's self-study. At Fall Mountain Regional High School, a committee of ten members, including the principal, supervised all aspects of the self-study. The steering committee assigned all teachers and administrators in the school to appropriate subcommittees to determine the quality of all programs, activities, and facilities available for young people. In addition to faculty members, the selfstudy committees included ten students, seven parents, central office personnel, and school board members. The self-study of Fall Mountain Regional High School extended over a period of 14 school months from September 2010 to December 2011. The visiting committee was pleased to note that students, parents, and school board members joined the professional staff in the self-study deliberations. Public schools evaluated by the Commission on Public Secondary Schools must complete appropriate materials to assess their adherence to the Standards for Accreditation and the quality of their educational offerings in light of the school's mission, learning expectations, and unique student population. In addition to using the Self-Study Guides developed by a representative group of New England educators and approved by the Commission, Fall Mountain Regional High School also used questionnaires developed
by The Research Center at Endicott College to reflect the concepts contained in the Standards for Accreditation. These materials provided discussion items for a comprehensive assessment of the school by the professional staff during the self-study. It is important that the reader understand that every subcommittee appointed by the steering committee was required to present its report to the entire professional staff for approval. No single report developed in the self-study became part of the official self-study documents until it had been approved by the entire professional staff. The Process Used by the Visiting Committee A visiting committee of 16 evaluators was assigned by the Commission on Public Secondary Schools to evaluate the Fall Mountain Regional High School. The Committee members spent four days in Langdon, New Hampshire, reviewed the self-study documents which had been prepared for their examination, met with administrators, teachers, other school and system personnel, students and parents, shadowed students, visited classes, and interviewed teachers to determine the degree to which the school meets the Commission's Standards for Accreditation. Since the evaluators represented public schools, central office administrators, and vocational institutions, diverse points of view were brought to bear on the evaluation of Fall Mountain Regional High School. The visiting committee built its professional judgment on evidence collected from the following sources: review of the school's self-study materials 52 hours shadowing 16 students for a half day a total of 37 hours of classroom observation (in addition to time shadowing students) numerous informal observations in and around the school tours of the facility individual meetings with 32 teachers about their work, instructional approaches, and the assessment of student learning group meetings with students, parents, school and district administrators, and teachers the examination of student work including a selection of work collected by the school
Each conclusion on the report was agreed to by visiting committee consensus. Sources of evidence for each conclusion drawn by the visiting committee appear in parenthesis in the Standards sections of the report. The seven Standards for Accreditation reports include commendations and recommendations that in the visiting committee’s judgment will be helpful to the school as it works to improve teaching and learning and to better meet Commission Standards. This report of the findings of the visiting committee will be forwarded to the Commission on Public Secondary Schools which will make a decision on the accreditation of Fall Mountain Regional High School.
Overview of Findings Although the conclusions of the visiting committee on the school's adherence to the Commission's Standards for Accreditation appear in various sections of this report, the committee wishes to highlight some findings in the paragraphs that follow. These findings are not intended to be a summary of the report. Teaching and Learning at Fall Mountain Regional High School There are many positive initiatives in place at Fall Mountain Regional High School which result in a school culture that is positive and focused on teaching and learning within a safe and nurturing environment. At the same time, Fall Mountain Regional High School faces challenges that must be met in order to provide an educational program that fully meets the needs of all students. Fall Mountain Regional High School has developed and published a research-based statement of core values and beliefs about learning as well as academic, civic, and social expectations for students, which, together, should allow for increased focus, direction, and consistency in the school’s educational program. The school and community show a strong belief in and commitment to the importance of their core values. The school leadership team and full faculty now need to establish a formal review process, using multiple data sources and community input, to ensure that the learning expectations and their accompanying school-wide rubrics reflect community priorities and fully challenge all students to reach their highest academic potential. There is an array of course offerings and programs at Fall Mountain Regional High School designed to meet the needs of a diverse student body. Up-to-date technology is also available for students to use in their courses. While curriculum documents have been developed, members of the professional staff must incorporate essential questions, concepts, related 21st century learning expectations, and assessment practices that include the use of school-wide rubrics into these curriculum documents. Once these are fully developed, it is incumbent on the community and school district to provide sufficient time and resources for staff development and teacher collaboration. From our visits to classrooms, shadowing of students, examination of student work, and interviews with teachers, the visiting team observed that Fall Mountain Regional High School has many caring and dedicated teachers who personalize instruction and integrate technology into their classrooms. They also provide many opportunities for students to seek additional support outside of class time. Instructional practices will be further enhanced as more teachers incorporate inquiry, problem-solving, cross-disciplinary integration, and higher-order thinking into all levels of classes. A comprehensive review of student work shows teachers at Fall Mountain Regional High School use a variety of assessment strategies to measure student knowledge, skills, and competencies. Teachers also individually review student assessment data to inform and adapt instruction in order to improve student learning. At the same time, there is a need for a formal process to assess and communicate whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the school’s learning expectations. Time must be provided for teachers not only to meet to create, analyze, and revise assessments but also to examine student work in order to identify and correct inequities and deficiencies in student learning. Support of Teaching and Learning at Fall Mountain Regional High School At Fall Mountain Regional High School, administrators and staff members work hard to create and maintain a safe, respectful, and positive school culture. There is a well-established program that provides students with an adult who knows them well and can assist in their achievement of the school’s learning expectations. At the same time, there needs to be more opportunities for teachers, students, and parents to be involved in meaningful and defined roles in decision-making that promote communitywide responsibility and ownership.
There is ample evidence that all faculty members at Fall Mountain Regional High School care deeply about the well-being of students and that student support personnel enhance student learning by interacting and working cooperatively with colleagues by utilizing school and community resources to address the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of the students. With an update of on-line information regarding special education, counseling services, and the library as well as space for confidential health services, Fall Mountain Regional High School can ensure all students are afforded an equal opportunity to achieve the school’s learning expectations. The school community’s financial support for the recent building renovations has positively impacted the delivery of the curriculum, instruction, programs, and services needed to ensure all students are able to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Faculty and building administrators are also actively involved in the development and implementation of the budget, but department chairs need improved access to their account balances in order to better track their expenditures. All professional staff members also need to further engage parents and families as partners in each student’s education, especially those families who are less connected with the school. There is clear evidence that Fall Mountain Regional High School is a successful school in many ways. The school community has the capacity and the desire to work together using the evaluation report and the NEASC Standards for Accreditation as a blueprint to provide educational excellence for the students of Fall Mountain Regional High School.
School and Community Summary Fall Mountain Regional High School is located in Langdon, New Hampshire, a community on the western border of New Hampshire in the Connecticut River Valley. Situated on 85 acres, the school opened its doors in the fall of 1966. The high school serves the towns of Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Langdon, and Walpole. The five towns have a combined population of 11,700 people (2000 census) and are racially and ethnically similar, though some socio-economic differences do exist. There is no expected significant change in the district’s population from the 2010 census. The towns throughout the district can be generally described as rural-residential. While some industry, retail, and service businesses exist in Walpole and Charlestown, the smaller towns offer little in the way of employment opportunities other than small, locally owned businesses and farms. The district falls below the state average in terms of its economic status and its ability to fund education. The median family income is $60,900 in Walpole, $54,300 in Alstead, $55,600 in Langdon, $48,700 in Charlestown, and $49,400 in Acworth. This compares with the NH state average of $63,700. The per pupil expenditure at Fall Mountain for the 2008-09 academic year was $12,943 while the state average was $13,914. The percentage of students in the Fall Mountain District on Free and Reduced Lunch is 31.7%; this compares with a rate of 23.9% for the state of New Hampshire. The Fall Mountain District is comprised of a total of 12 schools, with three sending middle schools. The current population of the high school is 570 students. This is a drop of over 150 students from the 2001 enrollment, with projections for dropping enrollment to continue over the next several years. The most recent data indicates Fall Mountain has a 5.2% annual dropout rate. This compares with a figure of 4.4% statewide, while the average daily attendance is 94.2%. At the present time, there are 43 teachers at Fall Mountain, creating a student to faculty ratio of 14:1. Individual teachers carry an annual average load of 108 students with an average class size of 18. In core academic areas (English, social studies, science, and math) required for graduation, the average class size is 20. Students attend school for 180 days and for a minimum of 990 hours. Students can access alternative educational opportunities by attending one of two career and technical centers in Keene and Springfield, Vermont. Adult education classes are available in Claremont, and Keene State and Antioch College are available in Keene. Students can choose from general, college prep, honors, and Advanced Placement (AP) levels for core academic courses, with the exception of freshmen social studies, which is heterogeneously grouped. All elective courses are college prep level or higher. The course registration process includes consideration of teacher recommendations, and parents are strongly encouraged to be part of the process. For the academic core courses, approximately 25% of students are enrolled in general level courses, 51% are in college prep, and 24% in honors and AP courses. Approximately 13% of all students receive special education services. All students must take four years of English, three years of social studies, and a total of seven credits in math and science. Health is required for one-half credit, and one credit each is required for physical education, art, and technology. The remaining credits are earned through a variety of elective courses. The school has adopted a tiered diploma system, with 28 credits required for a comprehensive diploma, and 20 credits required for a standard diploma. Students may apply to the principal for consideration of
their participation in the 20 credit diploma program. Based on figures from the last two graduating classes, 43% of the graduates have gone on to attend 4-year colleges and universities, 29% attended 2year colleges, 27% have gone directly into the work force, and 1% entered the military. Fall Mountain has established a number of connections with the local community, including a business partnership group, and a career day program in which students are able to hear up to five presentations from local professionals and business people. In addition, a job placement program exists as part of the Special Education Department. Community service and leadership opportunities exist through organizations such as student congress and the numerous clubs and student run organizations at the school. The student congress organizes an annual blood drive in conjunction with the Red Cross, and organizations such as Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), National Honor Society (NHS), as well as specific departments in the school have sponsored seasonal food drives. The school band and JROTC regularly march in parades in all of the five towns on Memorial Day, and the JROTC Funeral Detail is regularly called upon by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion organizations to perform military honors for veteran’s funerals. Fall Mountain Regional High School has established partnerships with several institutions of higher learning. Project Running Start gives students the opportunity to apply credits they’ve earned through the career and technical education department at Fall Mountain to the New Hampshire Community College at Claremont. In addition, articulation agreements exist with the River Valley Community College in Claremont, the University of New Hampshire, and the State University of New York at Cobleskill for agriculture and horticulture programs. The school has several programs in place to recognize student achievements. Students can be recognized at any time by teachers with a “Wildcat Winners” award. In addition, the faculty nominates and votes on a “Student of the Month.” In the last two years, the school has become affiliated with the New Hampshire Scholars Program, which recognizes students who meet a rigorous course of study set down by the New Hampshire Department of Education. In addition, students achieving a grade of 3 or better on at least three AP exams are eligible to be recognized as AP Scholars. The Superintendent’s Club recognizes students who achieve all A’s in a school year, and the school operates a chapter of the National Honor Society. An academic awards and scholarship evening in early June serves to highlight student academic achievements from throughout the school year.
Fall Mountain Regional High School Mission Statement The mission of the Fall Mountain Regional High School is to ensure a quality education, equal opportunity, and the acquisition of knowledge and skills that will prepare each student to become a healthy, active, and productive citizen. Core Values Respect – Treating yourself and others with patience, understanding, and honor. Integrity – Acting in a manner that is trustworthy, virtuous, and dedicated. Citizenship – Commitment to our community, our nation, and our world. Responsibility – Being accountable for our own actions. Beliefs About Learning As a high school and a school district, we are committed to the following beliefs about learning: We believe: in addressing a child’s social¸ emotional, and physical needs, as well as their academic needs, in order to support the development of the whole child. that the Fall Mountain Regional High School is committed to improving teaching practices and ensuring academic excellence and success for all students. in teaching “real world” and 21st century skills, and assessing students based on what they have learned. in giving students and staff the freedom to learn and work in a safe and nurturing environment. in encouraging the use of cutting edge technology in our classrooms and having an up to date technology support system in order to assist teachers and students alike. that all students learn differently and that teaching should be differentiated, utilizing all available resources in order to ensure that individual learning styles and educational needs are being met. that every student can learn and is capable of achieving success. that the parent-teacher partnership is crucial to student success. Furthermore, we believe: that by providing a wide variety of choices in our academic as well as extracurricular offerings, we can meet the needs of all students. that resources are critical for academic learning, as well as for staff development, in order to ensure that teachers are prepared to help all students succeed. in aligning the curriculum with state frameworks, so that students receive a quality educational experience. that all members of the high school community -- students, teachers, and staff -- should feel empowered, celebrate success, and should support one another. in the importance of open and honest communication between teachers and administration. that clean and safe buildings and grounds contribute to a positive work and learning environment. that attendant to our mission are our school-wide core values: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, and Citizenship.
Student Expectations The Fall Mountain Regional High School community has identified the following 21st century learning expectations: Social and Civic Expectations: Students will: Demonstrate appropriate behavior, social skills, and respect for others. Demonstrate an understanding of cultural diversity and practice civic responsibility and environmental preservation. Academic Expectations: Students will: Take personal responsibility for their learning. Demonstrate effective written and verbal expression across the curriculum. Demonstrate the ability to acquire information, reason effectively, and draw conclusions. Listen to and view information actively and critically, both individually and in a group setting. Use and apply a variety of resources, including the most current available technology. Demonstrate the skills necessary for success in the workplace, as well as for lifelong learning.
NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS & COLLEGES, INC. COMMISSION ON PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
STANDARDS FOR ACCREDITATION
TEACHING AND LEARNING STANDARDS
Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations Curriculum Instruction Assessment of and for Student Learning
Teaching and Learning Standard
Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations
Effective schools identify core values and beliefs about learning that function as explicit foundational commitments to students and the community. Decision-making remains focused on and aligned with these critical commitments. Core values and beliefs manifest themselves in research-based, school-wide 21st century learning expectations. Every component of the school is driven by the core values and beliefs and supports all students’ achievement of the school’s learning expectations.
The school community engages in a dynamic, collaborative, and inclusive process informed by current research-based best practices to identify and commit to its core values and beliefs about learning. The school has challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social, and civic competencies, and are defined by school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement. The school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations are actively reflected in the culture of the school, drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom, and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations. The school regularly reviews and revises its core values, beliefs, and 21 st century learning expectations based on research, multiple data sources, as well as district and school community priorities.
CONCLUSIONS The Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) community engaged in some elements of a collaborative and inclusive process informed by current research-based best practices to identify and commit to its core values and beliefs about learning. Over ten years ago a mission statement and set of school-wide expectations were drafted, reviewed, and approved by staff, parents, students, and school board members. The current four core values and modified beliefs about learning were aligned in 2008, the school’s holistic rubrics for the learning expectations were revised to analytic rubrics by the student expectation committee in 2010, and these new rubrics were implemented in 2011. The Endicott Survey and observations and conversations with staff and students, however, indicate little active understanding of the school’s beliefs about learning and commitment to the school’s core values. Teachers also express concern that the core values and beliefs are not authentic living documents that are part of the school culture and acknowledge that these principals originated from a district initiative. The core values and beliefs are established and in place, but the evaluation and review of these documents remains a work in progress. Dialogue about the beliefs about learning has focused on revising student expectations. Inconsistent record-keeping and changes in the faculty have led to sporadic documentation of the process used to review and revise the school’s mission statement, core values, and beliefs about learning. Best practices and data collection have rarely been identified as sources of direction because of limited time for review and revision. The core values are, however, posted in classrooms and included in the program of studies, in student and staff handbooks, and on the website, and these four values can be recited by students, faculty, and parents. All members of the school and community expressed a belief in the importance of having these core values in place. A more inclusive and dynamic review process, greater collaboration, and the use of research on best practices would lead to greater understanding of and commitment to the school’s core values and beliefs about learning. (Endicott Survey, self-study, teacher interviews, panel presentation, classroom observations, community members, department leaders, school leadership) FMRHS has made a conscious effort to design appropriately challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students, which address academic, social, and civic competencies and are defined by school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement. In 2007, the school’s original 14 learning expectations were revised to the current eight. School-wide rubrics were then designed to assess these learning expectations. While the rubrics reflect the basic learning expectations, some are overly general, and the wording is in need of more specific language to identify high levels of achievement. While the 21st century learning expectations are present in classes, they are not effectively addressed by the current analytic rubrics. The lack of detailed school-wide analytic rubrics makes it difficult for students to understand and for teachers to assess a high level of student achievement of the 21st century learning expectations. (classroom observations, department leaders, students, teachers, parents, self-study) The FMRHS Core Values, Beliefs, and 21st Century Learning Expectations are reflected in the culture of the school but do not effectively drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom. In some areas, they guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations. FMRHS has a variety of course offerings, activities, sports, and clubs to meet the needs and interests of a diverse student body. The decrease in student population and staffing levels has led many departments to rotate their offering of elective courses in order to maintain most course options for students. The school has made an effort to align the curricula of the three sending middle schools to ease the transition from eighth grade to freshmen year. Each course in the school has been assigned two of the eight learning expectations to assess using the school-wide rubrics, student results of these assessments are recorded in PowerSchool, and use of these assessment results is provisionally expected to be used as a graduation
requirement for 2013. An existing advisory system is also used to reinforce the core values. Teachers acknowledge that students are not always explicitly informed of which expectations they will achieve in each class, but they perceive them to be embedded in the curriculum. Students indicate, however, that the learning expectations are not clear and are inconsistently assessed across the school. Some students describe an incomplete understanding of the implications and requirements of meeting these expectations. Students acknowledge that two standards have been assigned to each class, but they say these are inconsistently reflected in the course expectations and are often evaluated only at the end of each class. Departments are able to self-select which expectations to assess in their courses. Teachers report that some students, especially in the general level classes, do not regularly take personal responsibility for learning nor demonstrate appropriate behavior, social skills, and respect for others, and most general level courses focus only on the basic academic, civic, and social expectations. FMRHS uses a matrix to show which expectations are covered in each course, but no school-wide overview has been completed to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to practice and achieve all of the school’s learning expectations by the time they graduate. Written and verbal expression are effectively taught, demonstrated, and evaluated across much of the curriculum. The expectations for students to acquire information, reason effectively, and draw conclusions, however, are not universally evident in classrooms and are especially missing from the general level courses. Understanding of cultural diversity, civic responsibility, and environmental preservation are primarily observed in extra-curricular activities and individual classes including band, JROTC, and theater. Listening and viewing information actively and critically are strongly demonstrated both in group work and individually in the majority of classes. There is pervasive use of technology in the majority of classrooms, with frequent SMARTBoard, iPad and netbook use, and electronic portfolios are required for graduation. In the career and technical education (CTE) department as well as the business partnership, students frequently demonstrate the skills necessary for success in the workplace and for lifelong learning. While some expectations are reflected throughout the culture and curricula of the school, the inconsistent implementation and assessment of the learning expectations, combined with the lack of a clear pathway to ensure that students have the opportunity to practice all expectations, hinders the school’s ability to ensure that all students can achieve the 21st century learning expectations. (student shadowing, parents, teachers, classroom observations, self-study, panel presentation, community members, department leaders) FMRHS does not regularly review and revise its core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations based on research, multiple data sources, and district and school community priorities. Teachers, self-study committees, and staff members indicate there is a critical need for the establishment of time and support for teacher collaboration and for the review and revision of the core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. This goal has been noted in the two and five-year plans. Currently students are not involved in any revision process. Some data has been gathered from meeting minutes, including past executive decisions, and from student assessments recorded in PowerSchool and electronic portfolios. An identified plan to regularly review and revise the core values, beliefs, and learning expectations would help to ensure the timely update of these values and beliefs and their inclusion in the school’s culture and priorities. (students, teachers, self-study, parents, panel presentation)
Commendations 1. The strong school and community belief in the importance of the core values 2. The use of PowerSchool to record student achievement of the learning expectations to help drive assessment in every classroom 3. The active student participation in community events
4. The widespread use of technology throughout the curriculum to support the school’s 21st century learning expectations Recommendations 1. Design and implement an inclusive process informed by research-based best practices for the regular review and revision of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations 2. Refine the school-wide rubrics to identify high levels of achievement of the learning expectations 3. Improve communication of the school’s 21st century learning expectations to students, parents, and community members 4. Design and implement a process to ensure the core values and beliefs drive the school’s curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations
Teaching and Learning Standard
The written and taught curriculum is designed to result in all students achieving the school's 21 st century expectations for student learning. The written curriculum is the framework within which a school aligns and personalizes the school's 21 st century learning expectations. The curriculum includes a purposefully designed set of course offerings, co-curricular programs, and other learning opportunities. The curriculum reflects the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. The curriculum is collaboratively developed, implemented, reviewed, and revised based on analysis of student performance and current research.
The curriculum is purposefully designed to ensure that all students practice and achieve each of the school's 21st century learning expectations. The curriculum is written in a common format that includes: units of study with essential questions, concepts, content, and skills the school’s 21st century learning expectations instructional strategies assessment practices that include the use of school-wide analytic and course-specific rubrics. The curriculum emphasizes depth of understanding and application of knowledge through: inquiry and problem-solving higher order thinking cross-disciplinary learning authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school informed and ethical use of technology. There is clear alignment between the written and taught curriculum. Effective curricular coordination and vertical articulation exist between and among all academic areas within the school as well as with sending schools in the district. Staffing levels, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and the resources of the library/media center are sufficient to fully implement the curriculum, including the co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities. The district provides the school’s professional staff with sufficient personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum using assessment results and current research.
CONCLUSIONS The Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) curriculum is being redesigned to ensure that all students practice and achieve each of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. FMRHS teachers explain that, while the core values were adopted by the district in 2008, the learning expectations have only recently been finalized and have been required on only one lesson plan. According to the Endicott Survey, nearly 68 percent of staff members believe the current formal curriculum utilizes the school-wide learning expectations. This conflicts with the department heads’ assertions that all curriculum documents have successfully incorporated the expectations at this time. In fact, although the expectations are posted in every room, most teachers do not identify, recognize, or include these expectations in the observed lessons or lesson plan documents. While teachers do identify two expectations for which they are responsible in each course, it is not clear in all departments that every student will be able to encounter all eight expectations over his or her four-year experience. In addition, some course curriculum documents do not seem to address expectations other than in name. Some submitted lesson plans show incorporation of the expectations but seem to exist solely to meet the standards rather than to be part of a meaningful curriculum. Teachers frequently mention the need for a process to formalize these expectations as part of the school’s two-year plan. While the adoption of the learning expectations is in the beginning stages, the inconsistency in documentation and implementation hinders the transition from a theory of utilization to actual practice. With further development and planning, students and teachers could gain a deeper understanding of the expectations and how they fit in meaningfully toward the practice and achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (classroom observations, teachers, department leaders, Endicott Survey) The FMRHS curriculum is written in a common format that strongly develops units of study and assessment strategies and includes skills and instructional strategies but omits essential questions, concepts, and the school’s 21st century learning expectations. All courses listed in the program of studies are represented in the documented curriculum. These documents are completed in a specific format provided by the school. The template requirements include the course level, credit value, prerequisites, course description, course goals, course content and outline, methodology, and assessment but do not include school-wide learning expectations or the use of school-wide rubrics. There is also no consistent use of essential questions or concepts, and skills-based learning is addressed infrequently and is particular only to specific departments. Instructional strategies are sometimes included within the methodology section of the documents, but many documents refer to other resources and do not specifically include those strategies. While most teachers adhere to the required headings and six areas of the curriculum format, there is a dissimilar depth of information within those areas. For instance, within the course content and outline, some teachers give a basic overview of the course while others provide as much as a specific vocabulary list for each book read. This correlates with the Endicott Survey results, which show that fewer than 53 percent of teachers believes the common format is actually implemented in subject areas. Additionally, the format of curriculum documents often varies, even within the same department. While most core-content course curriculum documents differ dramatically in formatting, the majority of the career and technical education (CTE) documents are identically formatted, allowing for ease of interpretation. The creation of explicit content expectations in the curriculum template, including essential questions, learning expectations, and assessment practices using the school-wide rubrics, will enhance the school’s ability to ensure all students have adequate opportunities to practice and achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, students, curriculum documents, Endicott Survey) The FMRHS curriculum sometimes emphasizes depth of understanding and application of knowledge through inquiry and problem-solving, higher-order thinking, cross-disciplinary learning, authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school, and informed and ethical use of technology. There are
some examples of problem-solving, higher order thinking, and cross-disciplinary learning in the various programs. In the CTE department, students often design, create, evaluate, and then rebuild as needed. One example is the pole barn built to fill a need of the animal science classes. Students were given raw materials and constructed walls for the barn. If the walls were not up to specifications, students had to rebuild them correctly. In graphics classes, students create authentic out-of-school projects that simulate real work place projects. In core classes, there is higher order learning in some classes. Students using the Core-Plus textbook series for their algebra and geometry classes are asked to experiment, examine their thinking, and hypothesize results. Similar opportunities are available with the Discovering Geometry textbooks in Honors Geometry. Many science classes use inquiry to discover, hypothesize, revise, and codify thinking. Advanced level classes in English and social studies also promote higher order thinking. In most other core classes, tests, quizzes, and other assessments do not require higher order thinking, problem-solving skills, or cross-disciplinary learning. Cornell note-taking was introduced as a common element among courses, but its use had not been consistently monitored. Students accessing technology are made aware of the computer use/equipment policy which is documented in all students’ eportfolios. Student use of safe computing practices is sometimes monitored at FMRHS. In the library, a large screen on the wall cycles through what the various computers in the library are showing on their screens. In the computer lab and with the mobile carts, monitoring is done by individual teachers. While some courses incorporate inquiry, problem-solving, higher order thinking, and authentic learning opportunities, an emphasis on these elements in the curriculum of all courses and more frequent opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning will increase students’ opportunities to practice and achieve all of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (classroom observations, student shadowing, selfstudy, student work, teachers) There is a perceived alignment between the written and taught curriculum at FMRHS. The Endicott Survey indicates that nearly 74 percent of teachers believe that what they teach is aligned with the written curriculum. The principal completes informal observations throughout the school year, but there is no official analysis of the alignment between the written and taught curriculum until the end of each course. Teachers submit weekly lesson plans to department heads for review but rarely receive comments or advice. While no formal feedback system is in place, many teachers feel that, when asked, department heads are a strong resource for informal and constructive feedback. The administrators’ walkthrough checklists refer to the learning objectives and grade-level standards of the lesson but do not directly verify these to be on-target with curriculum documents. The formal observation forms do not explicitly relate to this alignment at all. At the department level, teachers and department heads use different processes to assess the alignment of written and taught curriculum using data from course final exams. While the learning content is correlated between the exam and curriculum documents, there is a disparity between the use of state standards and the school-wide learning expectations in each. Despite the common perception that all curriculum documents are aligned with the everyday teaching at FMRHS, there is no method to formally verify that assertion. By relying heavily on end-of-term data, faculty and staff members limit their opportunities to maintain and refine the alignment of what is taught to the written curriculum and hinder their ability to ensure current students can achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (Endicott Survey, department leaders, curriculum documentation, teachers) Some curricular coordination and vertical articulation exists among academic areas within FMRHS and is increasing with sending schools in the district. Within the high school building, department heads are extensively involved in the process of curriculum development and coordination. Monthly department meetings encourage continued communication about implementation of the curriculum and teachers’ reflective practices. One department’s meeting minutes indicate discussion of the current research regarding best practices, plans to increase test scores, and cut-off data points for class progression, as well as general concerns and questions. Some teachers continue to use curriculum-mapping initiatives from a
previous administration to inform the vertical articulation of the curriculum and to guide teaching and planning in subsequent grades. Some departments have developed monitoring systems to ensure students meet all the necessary state learning requirements, but the upper levels funnel a large population into Advanced Placement (AP) programs while lower level courses seem limited in higher-order thinking. The e-portfolio system is not currently being used for vertical coordination but serves as a consistent location for the storage of the students’ digital work completed toward state technology requirements. Teachers have completed some curriculum coordination and collaboration on their own time. There is a formal proposal process for summer work reimbursement, but faculty members note that so many sign up for these opportunities that it has resulted in only partial funding for most of them, and teachers have to complete the remaining work on their own time. Despite the lack of a district curriculum coordinator, communication with sending schools has grown as departments have become increasingly involved in textbook selection and the creation of common learning experiences across grade levels throughout the district. Multi-building meetings take place where high school content teachers help to analyze data to inform the district’s choice of textbooks and programs to be used in the lower grades. One desired outcome of these discussions is for all students to come to the high school with similar experiences and tools. The common purpose and communication of district-wide staff members in creating a universal experience for students strongly benefits and prepares students as they arrive at and progress through FMRHS. With a continued and formalized process to develop and implement these common learning experiences, teachers will be better able to foster preparation for and achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (curriculum documentation, school leadership, teachers, curriculum committee) Staffing levels, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and the resources of the library/media center are nearly sufficient to fully implement the curriculum, including the co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities. Staffing levels have been cut because of declining enrollment, with the loss of approximately 120, or 20 percent, of students in the last ten years. In some ways, the school has made up for this loss of personnel by incorporating online and distance learning. A French teaching position was recently cut, and students wishing to study French now use the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) online to receive credits. Other courses such as Honors Government, advanced art courses, and college readiness courses such as Public Speaking are no longer offered due to low enrollment numbers. The Endicott Survey showed fewer than 42 percent of staff members feels there is sufficient staffing to implement the curriculum. Also notable is that while only half of the staff (50.9%) feels they are provided with sufficient instructional materials, faculty members indicate that if they ever need something to teach a class, money will be found. With Perkins Grant funding, the CTE department states that even in a budget freeze, money can be found for its day-to-day operations. The facilities have recently undergone a sizable renovation of 4.2 million dollars. According to teachers, this has been a welcome upgrade, and the building is in much better shape for the effective delivery of the curriculum. In the CTE classrooms alone, over $600,000 was spent. At the same time, some departments need even more room because of the scope of their work. The metal shop is still small with respect to the size of their authentic projects. Renovations in some areas took place conjunction with staff reductions. In order to be ADA compliant, the dark room was moved to the art room on the first floor, reducing the classroom space in the art room. Other continuing building needs include enlarging the band room as the popularity of the music program has created a need for more space and a sound system upgrade. Similarly the stage needs new lights and sound. Technology has been a focus for the district, and teachers have access to a variety of computer carts, computer labs, and iPad carts. Individual departments have budgeted for and purchased their own laptop carts to be used in department classrooms. Some teachers note that the signup sheets for the carts and labs are crowded near the end of semesters, and this technology is not as available as it needs to be. SMARTBoards and projectors are available in many classrooms, and some teachers are making effective use of them. CTE classes have access to a design lab with fully loaded
computers and laser etching capability. The library provides an effective learning environment with sufficient books and technology. Library personnel prepare research support carts, recommend resources, and work with other area schools to borrow and provide needed materials. Co-curricular programs at FMRHS include at least 42 different activities. Despite having declining enrollment, FMRHS has added even more club offerings in the past few years. With declining enrollment and an increased number of injuries, the school did not field a varsity football team last year in order to rebuild the program. Another continuing limitation is that after-school room space is at premium. Groups are encouraged to schedule ahead of time on a periodic basis to ensure the availability of a meeting space. While the variety of learning opportunities has been curtailed by staffing cuts and the decline in student population, the district has maintained the level of funding needed to implement the remaining curriculum. Further cuts, however, could endanger the high quality of the FMRHS program and limit the school’s ability to deliver effective curriculum. (curriculum documentation, teachers, Endicott study, department leaders, curriculum committee) The district provides the school's professional staff with sufficient personnel but limited time and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development of the curriculum using assessment results and current research. Adequate time and financial resources have been provided for evaluation and revision in some areas however. Professional development takes place in various modes: administrationdirected, department-directed, and self-directed. For summer professional development work, there is a district-wide fund, not to exceed $10,000 per year, to pay teachers at the rate of $135 a day. There is much competition for this money so the administrators often schedule a retreat based on identified needs. Depending on the topic, the participants included administrators, department heads, and related faculty members. Sometimes departments also identify needs and ask the school for work days during the summer. Because of competition for summer professional development money, the administration does not always fully fund this work and awards teachers only one or two of the requested days. Teachers develop the remaining curriculum on their own time. Currently, there is less professional development time funded, with the remainder of the work seen as a teacher’s professional obligation. Additional release days are provided during the year if requested by departments, but many department heads are not familiar with this opportunity. A special release day was recently created for math teachers to work with a state math consultant to do item analysis of the NECAP data, leading to an action plan for the math department. The social studies and English departments use their monthly faculty meetings to examine data. Self-directed professional development such as conference attendance has had a funding limit that has not increased in many years, with the limit of $500 per staff member for every three-year period. Staff members expressed concern that this pays for only one or two conferences. Teachers do note that if one of them needs emergency credits for re-certification, the administration will find the money. There is a district fund of $40,000 per year available to teachers for credit course work. Teachers can be reimbursed for up to four credits per year paid at the University of New Hampshire credit rate. This fund is not depleted every year, and if teachers take additional courses, they can apply for those remaining funds. The district has been committed to funding courses that move teachers forward to an advanced degree, and it also pays for state re-licensure costs. While the district currently supports some ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum, increased and stable funding for personal and summer curriculum development will increase and improve the evaluation and alignment of the curriculum with current research and the school’s 21st learning expectations. (department leaders, teachers, curriculum committee, collective bargaining agreement, professional development plan)
Commendations 1. The strong application of real-life job skills in the Career and Technical Education programs
2. The effective use of technology throughout all courses 3. The communication between content areas and sending schools regarding curriculum and common learning experiences 4. The sufficient funding available for technology Recommendations 1. Ensure the curriculum is purposely designed to ensure all students practice and achieve each of the school’s 21st century learning expectations 2. Update curriculum template requirements to include essential questions, concepts, content, skills, instructional strategies, the school’s 21st century learning expectations, and assessment practices that include the use of the school-wide and course-specific rubrics 3. Integrate consistent higher order thinking and cross-disciplinary curriculum goals into the documentation of all levels of all courses 4. Create a process to ensure there is clear alignment between the written and taught curriculum 5. Ensure staffing levels, instructional materials, equipment, supplies, and the resources of the library/media center are sufficient to fully implement the curriculum, including the co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities, in the face of declining enrollment 6. Provide the school’s professional staff with sufficient time and funding for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum using assessment results and current research
Teaching and Learning Standard
The quality of instruction is the single most important factor in students’ achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Instruction is responsive to student needs, deliberate in its design and delivery, and grounded in the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. Instruction is supported by research in best practices. Teachers are reflective and collaborative about their instructional strategies and collaborative with their colleagues to improve student learning. 1. Teachers’ instructional practices are continuously examined to ensure consistency with the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations. Teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of the school’s 21 st century learning expectations by: personalizing instruction engaging students in cross-disciplinary learning engaging students as active and self-directed learners emphasizing inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks engaging students in self-assessment and reflection integrating technology. Teachers adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of each student by: using formative assessment, especially during instructional time strategically differentiating purposefully organizing group learning activities providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom. Teachers, individually and collaboratively, improve their instructional practices by: using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments examining student work using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents examining current research engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice. Teachers, as adult learners and reflective practitioners, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices.
CONCLUSIONS Few teachers’ instructional practices are continuously examined to ensure consistency with the FMRHS Core Values, Beliefs, and 21st Century Learning Expectations. Most teachers are familiar with the school’s beliefs about learning and can identify the beliefs that focus on the instructional process. While most teachers are able to articulate the two learning expectations assigned to their individual courses, the schools’ core values and beliefs about learning are inconsistently integrated into all instructional practices. Many faculty members believe the core values and beliefs are implicit and do not need to be formally communicated to students. Teachers report there is no mandated formal teacher reflection on how well instructional practices are aligned with the core values and beliefs about learning because they believe these values are inherent in what is done on a daily basis. Most teacher reflections focus primarily on academic competencies. Some departments dedicate time during department meetings, after school, or during planning time for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices as related to core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations. Until this school year, however, this process has been informal. The student learning expectations are fully embedded in some courses, such as JROTC, and the cultural diversity learning expectation has been embedded in the social studies courses. Since few teachers are currently reflecting on their instructional practices as they relate to the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations, students are unclear which expectations connect to lessons, units, and courses, limiting their opportunities and ability to meet the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (classroom observations, self-study, student shadowing, teachers, parents) Many teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of FMRHS’s 21st century learning expectations by personalizing instruction, applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks, and integrating technology. A variety of leveled classes ranging from AP to the curriculum alternative program (CAT) is available to students depending on their academic ability, and independent study is available in several subjects. Elective courses are also available in many areas of study, and students can enroll in Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) for online learning opportunities. Students have the opportunity to engage in programs on campus, such as horticulture and agriculture, in addition to being able to attend CTE programs in Keene, New Hampshire and Springfield, Vermont. There are many opportunities for personalizing learning during block 5, including madrigal and drama. Throughout the school community, there are opportunities for applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks: the web design class designs and produces all of the t-shirts for the sports teams, the marketing class runs the entire school store business, the agricultural and horticulture classes maintain the grounds of the school, the family and consumer science classes bake pastries for various school events, the digital photography class makes all of the learning expectations posters for the school, the music and theater programs host presentations for the school and community, and the JROTC students assist adults at the assisted living facility in the community. While hands-on experiential learning is also required in elective courses, however, it is not as readily observed in core academic courses. The integration of technology is an important part of most programs. SMARTBoards are used throughout the school to enhance teaching and learning. A one-to-one pilot program utilizing iPads and Netbooks has been initiated in two classrooms with the understanding that this may expand throughout the building in the future. Mathematics classes regularly incorporate the use of graphing calculators, Geometers’ Sketchpads, and Excel. Graphic design classes utilize a variety of technologies including an offset duplicator and a six-color silk screen press. Computers are readily available throughout the entire building. The integration of technology has been showcased through the e-portfolio which is a graduation requirement. The use of technology, personalized instruction, and the application of knowledge and skills to authentic learning are evident in elective courses, provide students with a variety of experiences to enhance their individual educational needs, and is reflective of the school’s core values and beliefs.
Some teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of FMRHS’s 21st century learning expectations by engaging students as active and self-directed learners, engaging students in selfassessment and reflection, and engaging students in cross-disciplinary learning. Some teachers give students the opportunity to access the library for independent project work. Many classes provide learning options for assignments and projects so that students can direct their own learning. Students can pursue independent studies in areas of interest or to enhance their own learning program when scheduling conflicts exist. CTE programs such as agricultural education and industrial technology education provide a variety of opportunities for students to be active learners in a hands-on environment. Family and consumer science programs such as quilting, baking and pastry, and survival cooking provide students with experiences that are active and self-directed. Some academic areas, such as AP English and science courses, provide projects that are created to allow self-direction and the active engagement of students. Some opportunities exist that allow students to self-assess and reflect on their learning. Areas such as horticulture, world language, social studies, anatomy, English, and art provide techniques for and practice of self-assessment and reflection. Engaging students in cross-disciplinary learning occurs primarily when teachers make natural connections between different disciplines throughout the curriculum. Writing across the curriculum is utilized in a variety of classes. Mathematical concepts are integrated into numerous academic areas. Some teachers collaborate informally with colleagues on their own time to provide students with cross-disciplinary experiences. There is often a blending of the core content areas with the fine arts and career areas. While some teachers’ instructional practices support student achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations, FMRHS can fully support student learning by further engaging students as active and self-directed learners, in self-assessment and reflection, and in cross-disciplinary learning. Few teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of the FMRHS’s 21st century learning expectations by emphasizing inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking. Teachers of advanced level classes including English, social studies, and science design some lessons that support inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking. Higher order thinking is also present in a lower level mathematics class and many CTE classes. Most other student projects and lessons in core courses, however, evidence work at the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Sufficient exposure of all students to inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking will increase the extent to which students will be able to move beyond factual understanding of knowledge and concepts and achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (classroom observations, student work, teachers, students, student shadowing, facility tour, self-study) Some teachers adjust their instructional practices some of the time to meet the needs of each student by using formative assessment, especially during instructional time, by strategically differentiating, by purposefully organizing group learning activities, and by providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom. Many teachers provide additional support beyond the regular class time including during lunch, before school, after school, and during their personal preparation periods. Students feel supported by the teachers throughout the building. Some paraprofessionals are present in some classrooms, but their roles are not clear. Some teachers utilize formative assessments at the beginning of each class to assess students’ understanding of previously learned skills and concepts. Exit slips are used at the end of class to check for understanding and to clear up any misconceptions prior to students leaving the room. A few assignments are strategically differentiated by some teachers to allow for choices based on learning styles and interests. Group learning activities are purposefully organized in a few classes based on assessment results and personal character traits to further support and challenge students. While instruction is often personalized, differentiation during class time is not common. Strategically differentiated instruction within the classroom based on tiered instruction was not observed. As a result of teacher availability outside of the class sessions, however, students can take advantage of
additional opportunities to solidify their understanding of knowledge, skills, and concepts. There is confusion in some teachers’ understanding of the meaning of terminology such as “formative and summative assessments”, “differentiation of instruction”, and “research-based strategies and approaches for instruction”. The lack of common definitions and understanding of certain terminology has created confusion for some teachers and students regarding how formative and summative assessments will be used to improve classroom instructional practices. By expanding opportunities for students to experience strategic differentiation, organized group learning activities, and alternative assessment strategies in the regular classroom, teachers can further meet the needs of each student and improve student learning. (classroom observations, student shadowing, students, student work, teacher interviews, teachers) Teachers, individually and collaboratively, improve their instructional practices by using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments, examining student work, using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents, examining current research, and engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice on an infrequent basis. In the Endicott survey, 81 percent of teachers indicate they improve their instructional practices by using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments, but the majority of parents and students do not agree that this is the current practice. Teachers occasionally have some discussions focused on instructional practice during department meetings, and there are few examples of teachers examining student work for the improvement of instruction. While infrequent, the librarian and technology integrator provide support when teachers use current research to improve instructional practices. Professional development has been focused on teachers’ individual understanding of content rather than research-based strategies, interventions, and best practices. Teachers rarely have formal time for collaboration, examination of student work, and review of research-based strategies and interventions with colleagues. This hinders the teachers’ ability to share resources, strategies, and best practices and restricts students’ exposure to and opportunity to benefit from current instructional strategies and interventions. The infrequent and informal use of data to drive instruction also hinders the improvement of instructional practices to enhance all student learning, limiting students’ ability to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (Endicott Survey, student work, department leaders, teacher interviews, self-study, classroom observations) Most teachers, as adult learners and reflective practitioners, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices. Teachers engage in individual professional development through the school’s professional development master plan. Funding is provided by the district to allow teacher participation in a variety of professional development opportunities that assist teachers in maintaining their content area knowledge, but this funding does not always cover all teacher professional development requests. Funding is also provided for college courses and state recertification costs. Some teachers reflect on their own learning individually or with colleagues, and all teachers meet individually with the principal to review assessment data from their classes, but a lack of targeted research-based professional development hinders the improvement of instructional practices throughout the school. More dedicated formal time and a protocol to guide reflection and collaboration will help to increase the sharing of specific instructional strategies to improve teaching and learning and ensure students are prepared to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, department leaders, self-study)
Commendations 1. The variety of available personalized learning opportunities 2. The integration of technology into instructional practices to enhance teaching and learning 3. The wide variety of authentic learning tasks provided for students in CTE and elective courses
4. The additional support for students provided by teachers before school, at lunch, during planning time, or after school 5. The multiple opportunities for hands-on experiential learning 6. The district’s funding of the recertification costs for teachers Recommendations 1. Provide formal opportunities for teachers to continuously examine their instructional practices to ensure consistency with the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations 2. Ensure teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations by engaging students in cross-disciplinary learning and by emphasizing inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking skills in all disciplines at all levels 3. Provide formal time for teachers to collaboratively analyze student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments to reflect on and improve their instructional practices
Teaching and Learning Standard
Assessment of and for Student Learning
Assessment informs students and stakeholders of progress and growth toward meeting the school's 21 st century learning expectations. Assessment results are shared and discussed on a regular basis to improve student learning. Assessment results inform teachers about student achievement in order to adjust curriculum and instruction. 1. The professional staff continuously employs a formal process, based on school-wide rubrics, to assess whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations. The school’s professional staff communicates: individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21 st century learning expectations to students and their families the school’s progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations to the school community. Professional staff collects, disaggregates, and analyzes data to identify and respond to inequities in student achievement. Prior to each unit of study, teachers communicate to students the school’s applicable 21 st century learning expectations and related unit-specific learning goals to be assessed. Prior to summative assessments, teachers provide students with the corresponding rubrics. In each unit of study, teachers employ a range of assessment strategies, including formative and summative assessments. Teachers collaborate regularly in formal ways on the creation, analysis, and revision of formative and summative assessments, including common assessments. Teachers provide specific, timely, and corrective feedback to ensure students revise and improve their work. Teachers regularly use formative assessment to inform and adapt their instruction for the purpose of improving student learning. Teachers and administrators, individually and collaboratively, examine a range of evidence of student learning for the purpose of revising curriculum and improving instructional practice, including all of the following: student work common course and common grade-level assessments individual and school-wide progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations standardized assessments data from sending schools, receiving schools, and post-secondary institutions survey data from current students and alumni. Grading and reporting practices are regularly reviewed and revised to ensure alignment with the school’s core values and beliefs about learning.
CONCLUSIONS While the school’s professional staff members do employ a formal process, based on school-wide rubrics, to assess whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the FMRHS 21st Century Learning Expectations, the process to do so is insufficient to adequately assess either individual or whole-school proficiency. School-wide rubrics have been designed to assess the 21st century learning expectations, and individual student progress toward meeting these expectations is evaluated, but some of the rubrics are very general and need to be revised to be more analytical. The school has begun to record student achievement of the learning expectations in PowerSchool, but no whole-school assessment is yet in place. There is little opportunity for formative assessment of the learning expectations as teachers are not required to assess these expectations until the end of each course, leaving little opportunity for students to work toward mastery if they do not pass. Each department is nominally responsible for two 21st century learning expectations. Most school-wide rubrics are not used regularly by teachers, with the exception of the school-wide writing rubric which is widely embraced by all disciplines and used throughout the school year. Teachers’ responses to the Endicott Survey indicated that less than one third of the teachers in the school uses the school-wide analytic rubrics when assessing student work. The absence of a formal process for the consistent use of school-wide rubrics and for the timely assessment of the learning expectations has resulted in a lack of assurance that students are progressing toward meeting the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, students, school leadership, self-study, panel presentation, Endicott Survey) FMRHS regularly communicates individual student progress, but not whole-school progress, in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations to students, families, and the community. FMRHS communicates whole-school progress in departmental academic standards to the school community, but the connections between these standards and the expectations are still incomplete. FMRHS evaluates individual student progress in achieving academic expectations through formative and summative assessments on individual assignments. Teachers report assessment and student grades using PowerSchool, and grade information is communicated with report cards. Parent-teacher meetings also offer opportunities for the school to communicate student progress to the parents. The Class of 2013 is planned to be the first to be explicitly assessed in the school’s 21st century learning expectations during all four years of the students’ enrollment. Starting with this class, students will be provisionally required to meet a basic level of competency in each expectation at least once in their four years at the school. The original method of reporting the assessment of these expectations was a rubric-based checklist marked at the end of each grading period which was stored in the school by the advisors. Currently, the assessments are reported in PowerSchool at the end of each grading period. Some students, parents, and faculty members do not clearly understand the eight 21st century learning expectations, leading to uncertainty regarding their significance to student achievement. FMRHS has used an annual school profile to highlight post-secondary pursuits of the previous year’s graduates. NECAP testing results are also made public, and data from standardized tests and common assessment are shared within some departments to improve instruction. The principal also meets with every teacher to discuss results from their final exams. FMRHS does not, however, have any mechanisms in place to collect and analyze the school’s overall progress in explicitly meeting the learning expectations. Developing such a mechanism is part of the school’s two and five-year targeted plans. Without a formal process to document and communicate both individual student and whole-school progress in achieving the school’s eight designated 21st century learning expectations, it is difficult for the FMRHS community to discuss and use the collected assessment data to improve overall student learning. (self-study, student handbook, panel presentation, teachers, parents, Endicott Survey)
Some professional staff members informally collect, disaggregate, and analyze data to identify and respond to inequities in student achievement. Teachers consider a variety of assessments, including formative and summative assessments, measures of academic progress (MAP) results, and state standardized tests results such as NECAP when they are evaluating student achievement, but teachers’ use of the data is inconsistent. Some individual teachers modify instruction based on formative and summative assessments, although this is not done on a school-wide basis. While some individual teachers have made immediate, meaningful changes based on student assessment results, analysis of data on a larger scale across departments has been made less effective by the lack of commonality in assessments. FMRHS teachers have mobilized data-driven responses to students’ needs by using vocabulary exercises designed to help students struggling to understand open response questions and creating the senior math academy. Moreover, all teachers discuss data from final exams with the principal, who works with teachers individually to formulate a plan for the next semester and year. One area where a formal schoolwide process has been used is the review of data gathered from using the school-wide writing rubric. This data has been reviewed by all departments to address student writing skills, and the school NECAP writing scores have improved as a result. The inconsistent use of data to identify and respond to inequities in student achievement, however, has limited an effective FMRHS response to students’ needs and has not supported student progress toward achieving the 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, students, self-study, department leaders) Prior to each unit of study, most teachers communicate to students the school’s applicable 21st century learning expectations and related unit-specific learning goals to be assessed using a variety of methods. While some teachers focus their curriculum design on one or two expectations, many of the departments have developed matrices that correlate the eight 21st century learning expectations with individual course expectations. All teachers are required to indicate their unit-specific learning goals in their lesson plans in the form of state or national standards. Teachers communicate these expectations through syllabi, introductory course discussions, and annotations to rubrics used for student assignments. Some teachers write out unit or lesson expectations on the board in front of their rooms. Most students expect a rubric with their assignments, and some instructors use peer demonstrations and student work samples to illustrate learning expectations. Less than 50 percent of teachers, 52 percent of students, and 39 percent of parents believe teachers explain learning expectations before each unit, however. Many of the schoolwide rubrics used have been designed as scoring guides rather than scaffolds leading to proficiency in student competencies. Communication of the learning expectations to students is irregular and seems to be peripheral to the course goals. Some teachers refer only to the expectation numbers while others write out the expectations within their documentation, resulting in a lack of clarity. Many students recognize the learning expectations only as a list found in the handbook or framed near the classroom door. With a clear description of the applicable learning expectations and course learning goals to be assessed in each course, students will be better prepared to practice and achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, student work, panel presentation, students, teachers, parents, Endicott Survey) Prior to summative assessments, teachers inconsistently provide students with the corresponding rubrics. While they are often used, the rubrics are inconsistent in style, structure, and purpose. Rubrics particular to department and individual teachers are widely used while, with the exception of the writing rubric, school-wide rubrics are not consistently used across the school. Students do not have a clear, consistent understanding of when or why school-wide rubrics are used. Scoring guides are occasionally used in place of rubrics for summative assessments. Professional staff members who teach and assess the same curriculum do not always use consistent rubrics. Some individual teachers and departments have attempted to coordinate common rubrics for consistent, general use, but this is not yet widely done. By ensuring the clear and coordinated use of school-wide rubrics by all teachers, FMRHS can create
consistency and clarity for students, enabling them to make meaningful connections between learning and assessment. (teachers, panel presentation, student work) Many teachers employ a range of assessment strategies, including formative and summative assessments in each unit of study, but the language of formative and summative assessments is not universal. While there is no clear understanding among the faculty or students of what defines a formative assessment, 88.7 percent of responding teachers in the Endicott Survey reports using formative assessments to perform such tasks as explaining student expectations, assessing student understanding on a day-to-day basis through observation, conversing with students on an individual basis or in small groups, reviewing student progress-to-date, encouraging student reworking of assignments, and guiding student self-assessment. Seventy percent of students and 60 percent of parents agree that teachers at FMRHS use a variety of methods to assess student learning. Teachers across the curriculum use the school-wide writing rubric for both formative and summative assessment of student writing skills, enhancing student proficiency. Students have the opportunity to use the fifth block to make up work or recover credits. Portfolios are used in classes to store student work, and the librarian stores e-portfolios to track individual achievement in ICT competencies. Results of NECAP, MAPS, SAT, AP, and common assessments are used to analyze and revise curriculum and instruction. Summative assessments include a prevalence of paperbased traditional instruments, but some classes also use project-based authentic assessments. While many teachers use a range of assessment strategies, the lack of understanding and lack of wide-spread use of valid, reliable formative and summative assessments hinders students’ ability to achieve the curricular goals of the advisory program and the 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, student work, assessment documentation, classroom observations, students, teachers, parents, Endicott Survey) Teachers collaborate inconsistently in formal ways to create, analyze, and revise formative and summative assessments, including common assessments. The self-study states that informal collaboration is common; teachers use e-mail, common preparation time, and occasional department meetings to review and revisit formative and summative assessments. Teachers have regular semester meetings with the principal to address data culled from final assessments. Some common courses have common assessment elements, but few courses share entirely common assessments. NECAP and MAP scores are sometimes reviewed and used to inform and adjust curriculum to address student needs. Competencies are an essential component to the successful attainment of credit for all courses. Curriculum documents, however, do not consistently make reference to competencies as components of learning, instruction, and assessment. In practice, many teachers struggle to consistently integrate competencies into their prior curriculum frameworks. A lack of formal collaboration on the creation, analysis, and revision of formative and summative assessments has resulted in different interpretations of the curriculum by individual teachers and a struggle to adequately monitor and assess student achievement of the 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, self-study, department leaders, student work) Roughly half of teachers provide specific, timely, and corrective feedback to ensure students revise and improve their work. These teachers use a number of formative assessment practices to monitor and assess students’ work and provide students with immediate opportunities to revise and resubmit their work before it is formally assessed. This is especially evident in the assessments that involve writing, but it can also be seen in classroom observations as teachers circulate around their classrooms checking student understanding. When multiple choice assessments are checked, students are sometimes allowed to attempt the questions again, though not always for full credit. Students in the CTE and fine arts departments receive appropriate feedback while creating their projects and are encouraged to self-assess their work and determine when it is appropriate to rework their projects. Results from standardized tests are used to adjust curriculum and instruction to help students improve their work in class. Summative assessments are used by all teachers to assess and assign grades to student work. In some situations
students who fail to meet some of the competencies in a class are given the opportunity to complete those competencies during the fifth block. The timeliness, reliability, and efficacy of these assessments are irregular, however. Fifty-one percent of students reports that their work is assessed and returned in a reasonable amount of time, 60 percent reports that their teacher offers suggestions to help them improve their work, and 53.2 percent thinks their teachers’ grading is fair and consistent. These results are mirrored in the parents’ responses: 60 percent agrees that their child’s teachers provide timely and corrective feedback to assist in revising and improving work. By increasing opportunities for students to receive specific, timely, and corrective feedback, teachers can ensure students revise and improve their work, enabling them to better demonstrate proficiency of the school’s learning expectations. (self-study, student work, classroom observations, students, teachers, parents, Endicott Survey) Teachers regularly use formative assessment to inform and adapt their instruction for the purpose of improving student learning. While teachers at FMRHS access a variety of formative assessments, including homework, discussion, quizzes, writing, observation, and student self-assessments, there is some inconsistency in staff perception of the purpose, structure and use of formative assessment. It is very clear that faculty members see assessment as a valuable and essential tool in the ongoing adaptation of instruction, but a lack of school-wide consistency in response to data is evident. There are many examples of instructional responses to student work, however. In response to formative assessments, teachers regularly provide supplemental materials, review concepts and application, reteach skills and knowledge, and re-assess work as needed. Teachers’ regular use of formative assessment to inform and adapt their instruction has resulted in increased student learning, but a lack of consistency and clarity across the school impedes a fully articulated, effective use of formative data. (classroom observations, self-study, student shadowing, teachers, department leaders, central office personnel) Many teachers and administrators individually, and some collaboratively, examine a range of evidence of student learning for the purpose of revising curriculum and improving instructional practice, including: student work, common course and common grade-level assessments, standardized assessments, and data from sending schools. A lack of data and protocols restrict the examination of data from post-secondary institutions, survey data from current students and alumni, and individual and school-wide progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations. With 70 percent of students and 60 percent of parents agreeing that teachers at FMRHS use a variety of methods to assess student learning, almost 74 percent of the faculty also agree that they examine data from course, state, and national assessments to revise and improve curriculum and instructional practices. The principal meets with every teacher to review student assessment data from their final exams and discuss ways to improve professional practice. Teachers also work individually and collaboratively to review student results on common sections of tests and final exams. Faculty members teaching core courses use results from NECAP, MAPS, AP, the SAT, and common assessments to reflect on student achievement. District-wide efforts to align curriculum help drive student placement when they arrive at the high school, and this has allowed students to transition more smoothly into the work expected of them. The school also attempts to gather data from alumni by providing seniors with a questionnaire to assess post-graduation success. Data regarding individual progress in achieving 21st century learning expectations is collected in PowerSchool, but this information is not used in a formative context and has not been collected or used to determine school-wide progress or make revisions to professional practices. Many teachers and administrators individually examine a range of evidence of student learning to assist in the revision of curriculum and improvement of instructional practice, but the limited collaborative review of this data has restricted the ability of teachers to adjust their curriculum and instructional practices to improve student learning and achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, student work, teachers, parents, Endicott Survey)
Grading and reporting practices are not regularly reviewed and revised to ensure alignment with the school’s core values and beliefs about learning. Currently, there is no committee or group that oversees grading or reporting protocols for the high school. Department chairs report grading concerns to administrators as they occur. Changes are periodically made to grading protocols and structure, but the impacts of these changes are inconsistently and infrequently assessed. There are inconsistencies and confusion about how competencies should be graded and reported, even within departments. As a result of the lack of regularly reviewed and revised grading and reporting practices, there is no assurance that grading practices are consistently applied across all subject areas and by all teachers. (self-study, teachers, department leaders, central office personnel)
Commendations 1. The commitment of personal time by teachers to the review of student work to respond to inequities in student achievement 2. The school-wide acceptance and use of the writing rubric 3. The use of a variety of assessments to evaluate, respond to, and improve student learning 4. The administrator and teacher review and discussion of end-of-course assessment data Recommendations 1. Employ a formal process, based on school-wide rubrics, to assess whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations 2. Employ a formal process to communicate whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations to students, families, and the school community 3. Consistently communicate to students the applicable 21st century learning expectations and related unit-specific learning goals to be assessed prior to each unit of study 4. Consistently provide students with the corresponding rubrics prior to summative assessments 5. Create and employ a formal process for teachers to collaborate to create, analyze, and revise formative and summative assessments, including common assessments 6. Increase opportunities for students to receive specific, timely, and corrective feedback to revise and improve their work 7. Implement a consistently applied, formal process to examine a range of evidence of student learning in order to revise curriculum and improve instructional practices 8. Regularly review and revise grading and reporting practices to ensure alignment with the school’s core values and beliefs about learning
NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS & COLLEGES, INC. COMMISSION ON PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
STANDARDS FOR ACCREDITATION
SUPPORT OF TEACHING AND LEARNING STANDARDS
School Culture and Leadership School Resources for Learning Community Resources for Learning
School Culture and Leadership
The school culture is equitable and inclusive, and it embodies the school's foundational core values and beliefs about student learning. It is characterized by reflective, collaborative, and constructive dialogue about research-based practices that support high expectations for the learning of all students. The leadership of the school fosters a safe, positive culture by promoting learning, cultivating shared leadership, and engaging all members of the school community in efforts to improve teaching and learning. 1. The school community consciously and continuously builds a safe, positive, respectful, and supportive culture that fosters student responsibility for learning and results in shared ownership, pride, and high expectations for all. The school is equitable, inclusive, and fosters heterogeneity where every student over the course of the high school experience is enrolled in a minimum of one heterogeneously grouped core course (English/language arts, social studies, math, science, or world languages). There is a formal, ongoing program through which each student has an adult in the school, in addition to the school counselor, who knows the student well and assists the student in achieving the school’s 21 st century learning expectations. In order to improve student learning through professional development, the principal and professional staff: engage in professional discourse for reflection, inquiry, and analysis of teaching and learning use resources outside of the school to maintain currency with best practices dedicate formal time to implement professional development apply the skills, practices, and ideas gained in order to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment. School leaders regularly use research-based evaluation and supervision processes that focus on improved student learning. The organization of time supports research-based instruction, professional collaboration among teachers, and the learning needs of all students. Student load and class size enable teachers to meet the learning needs of individual students. The principal, working with other building leaders, provides instructional leadership that is rooted in the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. Teachers, students, and parents are involved in meaningful and defined roles in decision-making that promote responsibility and ownership. Teachers exercise initiative and leadership essential to the improvement of the school and to increase students’ engagement in learning. The school board, superintendent, and principal are collaborative, reflective, and constructive in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations. The school board and superintendent provide the principal with sufficient decision-making authority to lead the school. 36
CONCLUSIONS The Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) community is consciously and continuously building a safe, positive, respectful, and supportive culture that fosters student responsibility for learning and results in shared ownership, pride, and high expectations for all. The majority of teachers and students believes that their school is a supportive community that provides a positive, respectful, and safe culture. Interviewed students all say they feel safe, supported, and respected in school. Parents concur, and parents and students believe the teaching staff is very supportive of all students. Both the staff and student handbooks provide clear school-wide expectations based on respect and self-directed learning. The school newsletter is distributed by email, school webpage, and hardcopy, and it provides comprehensive, school-wide, supportive information, including departmental news, extracurricular news, health information, and student celebrations. The principal sends a weekly e-mail entitled, “Did you know?” with special news and celebrations that demonstrate community pride. Numerous students emphasize that adults expect them to be responsible and, in response, the staff allows a certain amount of freedom that students appreciate. Students also comment that they are becoming more self-directed learners. The campus, with its agricultural and photography programs, allows students to make outdoor excursions, suggesting a sense of safety and trust inside and outside the building, and these practices provide students with real life learning. Stakeholder ownership and high expectations for learning are very evident in the agricultural program that requires work in out-of-school time to accomplish chores required for program success. The information communication and technology (ICT) electronic portfolio requires student responsibility for portfolio maintenance. Because FMRHS has provided a safe, respectful learning environment, students are able to take advantage of the many courses and extracurricular activities offered for 21st century learning. (classroom observations, self-study, student shadowing, facility tour, teachers, students, parents, school leadership, Endicott Survey) FMRHS is equitable, inclusive, and fosters heterogeneity where students over the course of their high school experience are enrolled in one heterogeneously grouped core course. The population of FMRHS is socially and economically diverse. Numerous programs are offered to meet the needs of the diverse population, but core classes are rarely heterogeneously grouped; the freshman government and economics class is the only core class that all students take that is heterogeneously grouped. Elective and CTE courses are grouped heterogeneously, however. Students participating in the skills center are also sometimes heterogeneously grouped in elective courses and are mainstreamed when appropriate. By increasing the opportunities for students to be enrolled in heterogeneously grouped core courses throughout their high school experience, FMRHS can better ensure students are involved in diverse learning environments, further embodying the school’s core values and beliefs about student learning. (self-study, teacher interviews, teachers, department leaders) FMRHS has a well-established, formal, ongoing program through which each student has an adult in the school, in addition to the school counselor, who knows the students well and assists the students in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Faculty and staff members are assigned an advisory group of 10-12 students that meets daily for ten minutes and once a month for thirty minutes. There is a grade-level appropriate advisory curriculum in place that covers career options and planning, weekly social topics, and math practice days, supporting the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. The advisors and students remain together for the students’ four years of high school, ensuring that individual students meet all graduation requirements, including the electronic portfolio, academic expectations, and the 21st century learning expectations. Juniors and seniors mentor freshman as part of the advisory program. Despite having this well-developed program in place for many years, just over 60 percent of students responding to the Endicott Survey believe they have access to a program that provides an adult who meets with them regularly and knows them well. Students who were
interviewed, however, all say that they feel connected to and supported by the school. The implementation of the advisory program fosters a strong sense of community and shared leadership between students and staff members. The program also establishes a lasting positive relationship between staff members and students as well as between peers, helps foster a safe, positive culture, and promotes improved teaching and learning to achieve the 21st century learning expectations. (students, teachers, self-study, Endicott Survey) In order to improve student learning through professional development, the principal and professional staff participate in professional discourse for reflection, inquiry, and analysis of teaching and learning; occasionally use resources outside of the school to maintain currency with best practices; dedicate formal time to implement professional development; and occasionally apply the skills, practices, and ideas gained in order to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Some discussion revolves around reflection, inquiry, and the analysis of teaching and learning during faculty meetings, department meetings, and individual meetings with administrators, but the majority of discussions takes place informally between teachers and at their own initiative. The administrative team provides frequent fourminute classroom walk-through observations, and feedback and reflection is provided within twenty-four hours. The elimination of the curriculum coordinator’s position has reduced opportunities for teachers to keep current with outside resources for best practices. Outside sources have been brought in for an antibullying seminar and other district-wide seminars. Faculty members feel supported by the administration for attending out-of-district professional learning opportunities, but funding for such opportunities is limited. The school has dedicated some formal time for professional development; there are two days at the start of the school year, one early release day midyear, and one day at the end of the school year. Teachers feel that the number of curriculum development days offered during the summer is inadequate and that these days are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis despite the distribution being determined by a committee led by the assistant superintendent. Faculty members have the opportunity to participate in after-school technology and other training to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment and to stay current about best practices. During faculty meetings there is occasionally time set aside to discuss the application of skills, practices, and ideas gained to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Most such discourse takes place informally between individuals and within departments, however. The faculty members are dedicated and spend a great deal of their own time reflecting on their instructional practices and making adjustments to best meet the needs of their students. On the Endicott Survey, 60.4 percent of faculty members says that their professional development opportunities enable them to acquire and use skills to improve instruction and assessment, and 71 percent says that input from supervisors has played an important role in helping them improve their instructional practices. The school is in a transitional phase and is working toward aligning the current practices, particularly with regard to assessments. With consistent and organized professional development and discourse about school-wide practices, FMRHS can guide teachers’ instruction and assessment and fully engage teachers in efforts to improve teaching and learning. (school leadership, teachers, Endicott Survey, self-study, panel presentation) FMRHS leaders regularly use research-based evaluation and supervision processes that focus on improved student learning. The purpose of the evaluation process is to improve instruction and encourage professional growth and responsibility. It is a continuing cooperative process that enables each teacher to improve instructional practice. The Danielson Model had previously been used, but there is currently an initiative to update the evaluation process and incorporate the use of Danielson’s rubrics and student achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. There is a mentoring program for new faculty members that provides guidance and feedback to prepare them for bi-annual evaluations, but this program is not part of the evaluation process. The current process includes four types of evaluations with two observations annually for first, second, and third-year teachers and with at least one annual
observation and a three-year evaluation for all other teachers. The process is structured and consistent, and it focuses on improved student learning through enhanced teacher performance. Teachers receive feedback and feel supported by this process, empowering them to seek ways to continue to grow in their instructional methodology and help students to achieve their 21st century learning expectations. (school board, school leadership, teachers, self-study, panel presentation) While the school’s organization of time supports research-based instruction and the learning needs of all students, it does not fully promote professional collaboration among teachers. The 4x4 block schedule does allow for comprehensive learning by students, but it provides little time for teacher collaboration. Monthly department meetings and after-school training allows some time for collaboration, but crosscurricular collaboration is minimal. There is some interdisciplinary overlap in math and writing taking place as a result of occasional, informal teacher-initiated collaboration, in which the CTE department is taking a leading role. There are several days in the school calendar for professional development that have been used for research-based instruction, but this has provided only limited time for in-depth collaboration among faculty members on the learning needs of all students. While the current schedule supports student needs, there is no formal dedicated time for collaboration among staff members, placing the need for constructive dialogue about improving teaching and learning onto the shoulders of the individual teachers. (school leadership, teachers, Endicott Survey, self-study, panel presentation) The student load and class size at FMRHS has enabled teachers to meet the learning needs of individual students most of the time. Although the average class size at FMRHS is 18.5 students, a number of classes exceeds that average. Some math and health classes have class numbers over 25 students, and band and choir classes have up to 50 students. Larger classes are also found at the college prep level. Numerous classes are well under the school average, however, and the school eliminates classes with fewer than six students unless the school board grants approval for offering them. Just over 56 percent of the staff agrees their class sizes enable them to meet the needs of their students, and 61 percent of the students believe that the size of their classes allows their teachers to help them. The current class size enables most teachers to meet with students one-on-one to check for understanding, but the larger class sizes in college prep courses and in some core classes do not allow for the same level of personalized instruction. (teachers, students, classroom observations, Endicott Survey, school board, school leadership, parents) The principal, working with other building leaders, provides instructional leadership that is rooted in FMRHS’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. The core values, beliefs, and learning expectations are always in the forefront when the principal addresses faculty members, the school leadership team, and school board meetings. He meets regularly with department heads to discuss the evaluation process and includes them in the decision-making process for school policies. There is also cooperation in the cross-district collaboration between the middle school and high school disciplines, ensuring that incoming freshmen all have common curricular experiences. The relationship between the principal and other district administrators is based on mutual respect, trust, and collaboration. The collaborative relationship between the principal and other building leaders creates a strong partnership that supports teachers as they work to ensure student success in the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, school board, school leadership, parents) Teachers, students, and parents are sometimes involved in meaningful and defined roles in decisionmaking that promote responsibility and ownership. According to the Endicott Survey, a majority of students believes they have no input in the decision-making process, while 70 percent of parents says they have input and just over 50 percent of faculty believes all three groups have a meaningful role in the process. The student congress represents the student body, but the actual influence of this body is not
clear. School leadership has opened participation on interview committees to parents and students, and there is a student representative who attends school board meetings. Through the principal newsletters and the web page, the principal has made recent appeals to parents to become involved in the school because parent involvement has dropped at site-based meetings. There is no parent/teacher organization in the school, but the principal meets monthly with parent and faculty representatives to discuss school issues. The limited availability and awareness of opportunities for decision-making by all facets of the school community has hindered the school’s ability to promote stakeholder investment in, responsibility for, and ownership of its 21st century learning expectations. (Endicott Survey, parents, school board, teachers, school support staff) Most teachers exercise initiative and leadership essential to the improvement of the school and to increase student engagement in learning. Many faculty and staff members have created opportunities to engage students through classwork and extra-curricular activities. The active JROTC program regularly participates in community service projects, and the band and chorus also perform throughout the school community. Students in one class, with the guidance of their teacher, initiated a project to address their social concerns and translate them into action as the result of a class conversation on the conditions in Darfur. The principal and teachers encourage students to develop projects or clubs based on their passions. The student work displayed throughout the school exhibits the outcomes of engaged learning and confirms that the school is committed to broadening students’ learning opportunities. Many teachers report, however, that the district implements frequent new initiatives, and they do not receive clear direction on or sufficient time for the full enactment of one initiative before a new one is started. The faculty and staff at FMRHS are, however, clearly dedicated to student success. As a result students feel valued, and they participate in a wide variety of activities with their teachers, building a strong foundation for achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, students, parents, school board, teachers, facility tour) The school board, superintendent, and principal are collaborative, reflective, and constructive in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations. The principal has a collaborative working relationship with the school board. He is able to bring ideas to them, and they respectfully discuss and consider his ideas. The board has approved the principal’s plan to bring several speakers into the school to provide teacher training, including a comprehensive study of cyber-bullying and a presentation by the superintendent on RTI. They have also approved a proposal to amend the policy for sports eligibility in relation to student grades. Occasionally, proposals require negotiation when the board and the principal do not see eye to eye; professionals sometimes disagree. The relationship, however, is strong, and the board and the principal are consistently able to move forward. The board has approved the principal’s request to spend $60,000 of the $200,000 left from renovation funds to improve the building’s infrastructure, enabling the school to extend its technology capacity. The principal and the superintendent meet often. Their relationship is filled with reflection, mutual respect and collaboration. The strong relationship between the principal, school board, and superintendent reinforces and promotes student achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (school board, central office personnel, school leadership) The school board and superintendent provide the principal with sufficient decision-making authority to lead the school. The principal has a strong working relationship with the school board and the superintendent. They trust him to make decisions for the school within the scope of his job description and according to district-wide goals, and they demonstrated their faith in his ability by appointing him as third in the chain of command district-wide. The principal is dedicated to bringing FMRHS up-to-date technologically in social media and electronic devices. The principal provides for the learning needs of the students so that growth is ongoing on all levels. He recently implemented a tiered diploma format that
includes a twenty credit graduation option and developed a distance learning lab for students to enroll in online courses. With the decision-making authority to lead FMRHS, the principal is able to focus on supporting teachers in their instructional practices and needs and on improving the learning of all students. (school board, central office personnel, self-study, school leadership)
Commendations 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The positive and supportive school culture for students The staff’s dedication to meeting students’ needs The successful and well-developed advisory program with grade-level curriculum The prompt feedback of walkthrough data from school leadership The wide variety of extra-curricular activities, sports, and clubs available to students The collaborative relationship between the high school principal and curriculum leaders and the leaders of other buildings in the district 7. The collaborative, reflective, and constructive relationship between the principal, superintendent, and school board 8. The decision-making authority to lead the school given to the principal by the superintendent and school board Recommendations 1. Review and revise the course level structure to expand the heterogeneous student experience for all students 2. Provide a range of professional development opportunities to enhance teacher growth in order to improve student learning 3. Complete the revision of the evaluation and supervision process to include a focus on improving student learning 4. Implement a plan to designate time for formal collaboration among faculty 5. Create more opportunities for teachers, students, and parents to be involved in meaningful and defined roles in decision-making that promote responsibility and ownership
School Resources for Learning
Student learning and well-being are dependent upon adequate and appropriate support. The school is responsible for providing an effective range of coordinated programs and services. These resources enhance and improve student learning and well-being and support the school's core values and beliefs. Student support services enable each student to achieve the school's 21st century learning expectations. 1. The school has timely, coordinated, and directive intervention strategies for all students, including identified and at-risk students, that support each student’s achievement of the school’s 21 st century learning expectations. The school provides information to families, especially to those most in need, about available student support services. Support services staff use technology to deliver an effective range of coordinated services for each student. School counseling services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who: deliver a written, developmental program meet regularly with students to provide personal, academic, career, and college counseling engage in individual and group meetings with all students deliver collaborative outreach and referral to community and area mental health agencies and social service providers use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21 st century learning expectations. The school's health services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who: provide preventative health services and direct intervention services use an appropriate referral process conduct ongoing student health assessments use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21 st century learning expectations. Library/media services are integrated into curriculum and instructional practices and have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who: are actively engaged in the implementation of the school's curriculum provide a wide range of materials, technologies, and other information services in support of the school's curriculum ensure that the facility is available and staffed for students and teachers before, during, and after school are responsive to students' interests and needs in order to support independent learning conduct ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations.
Support services for identified students, including special education, Section 504 of the ADA, and English language learners, have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who: collaborate with all teachers, counselors, targeted services, and other support staff in order to achieve the school's 21st century learning expectations provide inclusive learning opportunities for all students perform ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21 st century learning expectations.
CONCLUSIONS Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) has timely, coordinated, and directive intervention strategies for all students, including identified and at-risk students, which support each student’s achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. In conjunction with an extensive variety of courses, FMRHS provides numerous interventions and resources and, consequently, offers a robust educational support program that meets the different needs of students. Besides a daily advisory where small groups of students meet with a teacher and cover topics from a school-developed curriculum, students receive considerable attention from guidance department personnel and individual teachers. Guidance counselors begin meeting all freshmen early in the school year in order to facilitate their transition from middle school to high school, and thereafter they continue regular group and individual meetings within each grade to address the needs of all students in the areas of academic, social/emotional, and career development. All teachers schedule at least one day per week for after-school help sessions, frequently email and phone parents when student performance concerns arise, and formally alert parents in writing on a common notification form when grades become unacceptable. Besides regularly scheduled extra help, students receive tutoring from National Honor Society members, and freshmen students receive mentoring during their advisory from trained upper classmen. In an effort to best meet the needs of students in special education, the department chair has maximized support by evaluating identified needs within regular education classrooms and scheduling special education para-educators accordingly. Further, staffing the resource room throughout the day has been made a high priority so that additional assistance is now available to all students. FMRHS, which has utilized its school counselors, classroom teachers, special educators, administrators, school nurse, and library/media specialist in designing support strategies, has just initiated a response to intervention (RTI) model for early intervention, initiated a child study team, and used a student support team to address the psychological and emotional needs of students to develop strategies for success. The needs of seriously at-risk students have been addressed through the development of the collaborative alternative team (CAT) program which offers a personalized academic program in a contained classroom. The skills center and job experience programs provide hands-on, practical experience, the opportunity to gain knowledge of the world of work, and individualized instruction in a nurturing and supportive atmosphere. As the result of a wellcoordinated effort among student support personnel, FMRHS students and families are assured that the school has addressed learning and developmental needs in order to ensure that students are successful in meeting the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, teacher interviews, students, parents, school board, department leaders, school support staff) The school provides information to families, especially to those most in need, about available student support services. Information from some student support services consistently appears in the principal’s monthly newsletter, available online or through the mail by request. Recent guidance department news has included updates on technical school enrollment deadlines, financial aid, and participation in the Upward Bound program. The school nurse has also informed parents about health alerts and general health education. Additional monthly newsletters from the guidance department, available from the school website, offer an abundance of timely information concerning scholarships, open houses, and college representatives scheduled to visit FMRHS; the news changes with every issue and is always timely and pertinent to students and parents. Less visible is information on counseling services, however. While news from the library/media program and the special education department is less frequently issued, both services are present on the school website. Traditional methods of communication include progress reports and report cards, each mailed home quarterly along with separate printed documents, such as standardized test results and invitations to events like freshmen orientation. Other school news communications are sent through email, and, for more critical information, phone alerts are sometimes sent through the automated Global Connect voice-messaging system. PowerSchool, FMRHS’s web44
based student information system, represents the most up-to-date academic information available to parents. By logging on to the parent portal, parents can see current grades and comments for their children. Guidance personnel estimate that approximately 75 percent of FMRHS families has internet access and is able to access the school’s electronic information, but the guidance office still mails home printed progress reports and final quarter grades to students and parents. According to the Endicott Survey, 60 percent of parents feels that the school has provided information about available support services, and a smaller sample of interviewed parents feels sufficiently informed about guidance and health services. By informing parents of the school’s full complement of student support services, FMRHS ensures they are providing the adequate and appropriate support needed for each student to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, parents, department leaders, Endicott Survey, school support staff) Support services staff at FMRHS use technology to deliver an effective range of coordinated services for each student. The staff members of the guidance department, health services office, and library/media center have access to and utilize many technologies to deliver services. They use the web-based data management system PowerSchool to provide real-time information regarding academic progress, attendance, teacher emails, and communication between school and home. All support staff members have laptop or desktop computers that are replaced as needed, access to high speed wireless Internet services, and a dedicated information technology department for hardware and software support. The comprehensive guidance curriculum includes purchased or licensed computer-based resources including Choices to assist with the career exploration and college exploration process, computer labs, SMARTBoards for interactive classroom presentations, and automated online systems for college application management. The school nurse maintains a subscription to WebMD, uses a new online vision-screening exam, and utilizes Internet resources routinely when working with students and staff members. Through the library/media center and adjoining computer lab, a variety of technology tools is available, including desktop and laptop computers and electronic teaching and learning devices for instruction, projects, research, and educational support. The support services staff feels technology has significantly enhanced the learning of all students, most especially those with the greatest needs. Students have access to software programs including Read 180, Kurzweil, and DragonSpeak, allowing students greater access to the least restrictive environment for learning. The school has taken deliberate steps to obtain current and effective resources in technology, which has resulted in an effective range of coordinated services for each student and helps ensure their achievement of the 21st century learning expectations. (teacher interviews, PowerSchool, classroom observations, self-study, student shadowing, community members, department leaders) School counseling services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff members who deliver a written, developmental program; meet regularly with students to provide personal, academic, career, and college counseling; engage in individual and group meetings with all students; deliver collaborative outreach and referrals to community and area mental health agencies and social service providers; and use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieved the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Three certified, highly experienced guidance counselors and one crisis counselor serve the 570 students of FMRHS. Two of the counselors have caseloads of 220 students, and the department head has a caseload of 130. She uses her remaining time for administrative duties such as the coordination of the school’s advisory program, PowerSchool management (including scheduling), and the coordination of NECAP and Advanced Placement testing programs. The crisis counselor works with students through a variety of formats and currently co-facilitates 17 lunch groups per week in addition to individual counseling. The department is also staffed by an administrative assistant who manages the myriad of details involved in student services, including the intake and registration of new students, transfer of
records, transcript management, college application management, and being a front-line responder to students seeking services. The guidance department has carefully crafted a comprehensive developmental school counseling curriculum which provides a framework of services and formal curricula to meet the needs of all students in the areas of academic, personal/social, and career development. Students’ needs are met through a delivery system that includes individual and group planning, classroom guidance, responsive services, and system support that includes overall program management and assessment. Classroom guidance includes four-year planning with freshmen, career planning and four-year plan updates with sophomores, and future planning in careers and the college application processes, including financial aid information. School counselors meet individually with all students for scheduling and postsecondary planning. Parents are invited to attend these meetings to promote better communication with families, with approximately 30 percent of parents attending last year. According to the LifeTrack senior exit survey, 83 percent of students believes that they have had appropriate access to information and guidance about postsecondary choices, and 75 percent believes that counselors assisted with future plans. The guidance department has collected data about current programs offered, numbers of students served, graduation rates, AP exam pass rates, SAT averages, college acceptance rates, student failure rates, and evaluation and assessment of student academic success. When results from the most recent Endicott Survey revealed that younger students feel they have less access to counselors, the guidance department instituted individual meetings with all freshmen at the beginning of the school year. The guidance office utilizes its data to implement improvements in its programming whenever possible. The counselors work collaboratively with community and area mental health agencies and social services providers for individual needs such as loss, family transitions, and substance abuse concerns. Providing sufficient services for students who struggle with mental illness has presented the greatest challenges for them, as tiered services for students and families with significant needs have few effective supports available in New Hampshire. The staff also works with court-appointed personnel in several fields. They collaborate with local law enforcement through the school resource officer and emergency management services to provide educational programs for all students. The written guidance curriculum is comprehensive, and counselors are diligent in creating opportunities for individual and group meetings to address developmental needs for all students. They work collaboratively with community and area mental health agencies and social service providers. The school counseling services implement multiple data sources to inform their interventions, including feedback from the school community, resulting in increased assurances that each student can achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, Endicott Survey, guidance curriculum, senior exit survey, teachers, school support staff) FMRHS’s health services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who provide preventative health services and direct intervention services; use an appropriate referral process; conduct ongoing student health assessments; and use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieved the school’s 21st century learning expectations. FMRHS is staffed by a full-time, experienced nurse and, in emergency situations, clerical support and additional nursing staff from within the district. Health services are delivered in a health office shared with personnel from other support programs, resulting in limited space and a lack of privacy and that often requires meeting away from the health office in order to maintain student confidentiality and alleviate overcrowding. The nurse is a member of the child study, student support, and RTI teams. She monitors all student immunization records, offers physical examinations to grade 9 and 10 students, and provides sight and hearing screenings as outlined by New Hampshire state regulations. The nurse assesses students on a regular basis to detect health needs and offers direct intervention when appropriate. The nurse refers parents to the offices of physicians or the emergency room when necessary and can assume authority in the absence of a physician for the care of a student or staff member who has suffered an injury or emergency illness. She administers first aid according to established procedures, maintains the electronic historical health information, and monitors and tracks
preventative state-mandated immunization data. The school nurse has followed all guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. She provides all members of the FMRHS community with health education regarding current or topical public health issues, coordinates school and community blood drives, provides an annual health screening for staff members, serves as the chairperson of the district’s wellness program, and provides training for the American Red Cross First Aid and the American Heart Association Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and Automatic External Defibrillator certification. The staffing and the operation of the school’s health services office is adequate for the size of the school and is supported effectively by the greater community when needed. The health suite, however, is inadequate to maintain privacy, limiting the school’s ability to provide confidential preventative and direct intervention services to students and staff members. (selfstudy, facility tour, documentation, school support staff, Endicott Survey) FMRH’s library/media services are integrated into curriculum and instructional practices and have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who are actively engaged in the implementation of the school's curriculum; provide a sufficient but decentralized range of materials; ensure that the facility is available to staff and students before, during, and after school; are responsive to students' interests and needs in order to support independent learning; and conduct some ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations. The library/media specialist is increasingly involved in the integration and support of technology across the curriculum and also oversees student progress in compiling electronic portfolio requirements. Additionally, library/media services continue to be integrated into the school curriculum through the alignment of information resources with curriculum demands. In order to carry out responsible library collection development practices and meet the information needs of teachers and students, the library/media specialist regularly attends monthly department meetings, asks about upcoming projects and teacher resource needs, collaborates with teachers on individual research assignments, and evaluates curriculum maps. In addition to receiving feedback from teachers, the usefulness of the library print collection is evaluated through the use of a vendor-supplied automated analysis tool. Other feedback mechanisms include the review of teacher exit slips, where students who have completed a research assignment reflect upon their successes and difficulties. While these evaluation practices show a support-service orientation and responsiveness to user information needs, a review of the library’s subscription databases shows only a limited availability of digital periodicals and e-books. Further, the library’s primary subscription database product, EBSCOhost, is difficult to access. Current library website configuration necessitates that students leave the library site and visit a district web page in order to conduct an EBSCOhost search. Further complicating the research process for students are prominent links to the district’s middle school ProQuest database, which is currently inaccessible to high school students. Students value Internet sources as their primary form of digital information, showing an overreliance on open web information and confusion about the research value of quality subscription content. The library/media program and the school’s technology services department provide abundant technology equipment for students and staff members, ensuring that academic and multimedia work can be accomplished in the library and in classrooms. The library and the adjoining computer lab are available for teacher sign-up and offer approximately 40 computers, and two mobile carts of 24 laptops allow for technology work to take place in classrooms. Students also check out library document cameras and flip video cameras for projects and electronic portfolio documentation. The library is staffed and available to students before, during, and after school. The library/media specialist is currently assisted during the school day by one paraprofessional who manages circulation, assists students and staff members with information retrieval, and oversees the room when the library/media specialist is called into classrooms for teaching and technology support and integration. While staffing is adequate, the library paraprofessional position was eliminated from the current budget and then partially restored for after school library access. The
position’s future status seems to be uncertain. The library materials budget has been decreased by nearly 50 percent since 2008, and the physical space has changed as district-level technology personnel and equipment have moved into the high school library. Despite this shrinking space, the library serves as a virtual learning classroom for several students. There are plans for all virtual learning to be moved into a multi-purpose room located elsewhere in the school, but the increased space needs of technology and other departments pose a challenge to the original purpose and use of the library facility. The library/media specialist works to be responsive to student interests and needs, but without additional feedback from student users, program effectiveness in meeting individual interests remains unclear. While the library offers resources outside of the school’s curriculum requirements, the extent to which independent learning is supported can be better discerned from more formal feedback. Without conducting more ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from other school community constituencies, the library/media specialist cannot ensure that the information necessary for overall program management decision-making is present, limiting the school’s ability to ensure that students are able to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (students, teachers, department leaders, web site, self-study) The FMRHS Support Services for identified students, including special education, Section 504 of the ADA, and English language learners, have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who collaborate with all teachers, counselors, targeted services, and other support staff in order to achieve the school's 21st century learning expectations; provide inclusive learning opportunities for all students; and perform ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations. The special education department at the school is adequately staffed to provide services for identified students. The teaching responsibilities and caseloads of the special education teachers are reasonable, and these teachers communicate regularly with parents and the other classroom teachers to facilitate the success of their students. The school has developed a long-term plan to move from providing services through a self-contained classroom model to the most inclusionary model possible for all students. Special education teachers co-teach with English and math teachers, replacing the former model of individualized classes for students with specific learning disabilities. The curriculum for individualized classes is now aligned with the regular high school curriculum. Parents describe the special education program as creative and sensitive in its work with students and feel that the high school truly excels in helping their children be successful in school, in some cases for the first time in their academic experience. Parents appreciate the collective work of all of the professional staff who nurture their children through high school, and they feel their children are well-prepared for their futures. Three years ago the school began its own alternative education program after several years of offering a joint program with the Claremont school system. The teacher of the current program indicates that students enjoy being on the FMRHS school grounds rather than off-campus; they feel they are members of this learning community and that the change is very positive. School counselors manage the 504 plans of students within their alphabetic sections, whose needs are quite varied, and these counselors communicate with faculty members on implementing 504 plans. Counselors are also responsible for coordinating the intervention plan for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students, an area of particular concern as the school currently has no ESOL students and no teacher in place for them, but there is the potential of an emerging population in the area at any time. School counselors and special education teachers act as consultants to other school personnel to assist in addressing the needs of all students. The student support, child study, and RTI teams meet on a weekly and biweekly basis to provide teachers, administrators, and staff members with a forum to discuss academic, social, and behavioral concerns for all students and to work together to develop interventions which can lead to success. Support services for identified students, including special education and Section 504 of the ADA, provide a wide range of programs and curricula that are based on an inclusive and collaborative model and help promote
individual student achievement of 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, Endicott Survey, referral forms, parents, teachers)
Commendations 1. The consistent and timely intervention strategies and overall robust educational support program to meet the different needs of all students 2. The effective use of technology by support service personnel for delivering an effective range of coordinated services 3. The updated and fully implemented comprehensive guidance curriculum focused on individual and group meetings to promote academic success, personal development, and postsecondary planning 4. The school-based crisis counselor who provides additional support to students through group and individual counseling support to students in need 5. The active involvement of nursing staff members in all student support efforts including districtwide initiatives 6. The active and integrated library/media services, including information and technology support, available to all students and staff members 7. The well-staffed special education department and array of programs to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of identified students Recommendations 1. Continue developing the data-driven, district-wide response to intervention model and the data collection processes necessary for its implementation 2. Update the on-line information for special education, counseling services, and the library, including a centralized and easily accessible collection of research databases 3. Increase or segregate space in the health office to afford the school nurse and students confidential health services 4. Evaluate the impact of having non-library programs and personnel assigned to the library space
Community Resources for Learning
The achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations requires active community, governing board, and parent advocacy. Through dependable and adequate funding, the community provides the personnel, resources, and facilities to support the delivery of curriculum, instruction, programs, and services. 1. The community and the district's governing body provide dependable funding for: a wide range of school programs and services sufficient professional and support staff ongoing professional development and curriculum revision a full range of technology support sufficient equipment sufficient instructional materials and supplies. The school develops, plans, and funds programs: to ensure the maintenance and repair of the building and school plant to properly maintain, catalogue, and replace equipment to keep the school clean on a daily basis. The community funds and the school implements a long-range plan that addresses: programs and services enrollment changes and staffing needs facility needs technology capital improvements. Faculty and building administrators are actively involved in the development and implementation of the budget. The school site and plant support the delivery of high quality school programs and services. The school maintains documentation that the physical plant and facilities meet all applicable federal and state laws and are in compliance with local fire, health, and safety regulations. All professional staff actively engage parents and families as partners in each student’s education and reach out specifically to those families who have been less connected with the school. The school develops productive parent, community, business, and higher education partnerships that support student learning.
CONCLUSIONS The Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) community and the district's governing body provide dependable funding for a wide range of school programs and services, sufficient professional and support staff, some ongoing professional development and curriculum revision, a full range of technology support, sufficient equipment, and sufficient instructional materials and supplies. While the budget has been supported by the community, it has been level-funded for the past five years. The materials and supplies are adequate with “no fat to trim”. Even though a few courses are no longer offered, as a result of either budget cuts or low enrollment, the students have the option to take an on-line course in the distance-learning lab. Over the past eight years, approximately 50 percent of the technology has been funded through grant monies and supported by the addition of hardware, software, and professional development. While the current $15,000 in course reimbursement is adequate, the professional development of $500 per teacher over a three-year period has not increased in many years. While technology and supply funding are a top priority, furniture replacement is not. The addition of grant monies for technology has improved access to reliable technology for all teachers and students, but the limited resources for professional development and furniture replacement has hindered the district’s ability to ensure that all students are able to achieve the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (facility tour, school board, self-study, parents, department leaders, teachers) FMRHS has continually developed, planned, and funded programs to ensure the maintenance and repair of the building and school plant; to properly maintain, catalogue, and replace equipment; and to keep the school clean on a daily basis. The maintenance director works with the principal to create his annual budget. A five-year facilities plan (2008 – 2013) was developed that included a $4.5 million renovation which was completed in the 2011-2012 school year, but repaving the access road and parking lot has not been completed. Busses are leased and replaced every seven years. Every year, the maintenance director has requested to replace one vehicle, but it is usually one of the first items cut from the budget. At the end of the year surplus funds are used for capital improvements. Staff members can submit maintenance and technology work orders on-line. The maintenance director has implemented a preventative monthly maintenance plan in the kitchen. The maintenance department consists of a master electrician, a master plumber, a mason, and a person who can operate any piece of equipment, which allows for most work to be done in-house. Over the last 13 years, however, two full-time employees have been cut to part-time. Wiring has to be completed on weekends or after the students have left for the day. The maintenance director wants to hire a full-time electrician to work from noon to 8:30 p.m. to complete these tasks. Few students (39.8 percent), many staff members (67.9 percent), and over half of parents (55.4 percent) feel the school is clean and well-maintained, and most noted old and chipped furniture as a factor in their negative opinion. The maintenance director is going to meet with a new supply company and hopes to sign a contract to provide better budgeting for school cleaning, training, and use of equipment for the custodial staff. The school adequately develops and plans programs, but the unpaved areas and older furniture negatively impact the community’s impression of how well the FMRHS buildings are cleaned and maintained. (school board, central office personnel, facility tour, self-study) The FMRHS community mostly funds and the school narrowly implements a long-range plan that addresses programs and services, enrollment changes and staffing needs, facility needs, technology, and capital improvements. The school district can take a surplus of up to $500,000 and place it in the capital reserve fund. In order to spend the funds, a warrant article must be presented to the taxpayers seeking permission to access the funds for school improvements to the physical plant. There are plans to pursue this process for a technology initiative. Every teacher has been assigned a school laptop, and the technology infrastructure is set up to allow for greater Internet access on most school computers. Students are able to access their grades and print out or place their work on the server. The technology
department replaces computers as needed and wants to pursue a 1-to-1 initiative with a warrant article, providing a computer for every student. The reduction in staff from budget cuts, the decline in student enrollment, and staff attrition have resulted in a reduction or elimination of course offerings. Despite the limited funding and long-range plans, the programs, facilities, and technology available at FMRHS are adequate to support students in achieving the 21st century learning expectations. (school board, parents, self-study, teachers, school leadership, technology plan) FMRHS faculty and building administrators are involved in the development and implementation of the budget. All staff members submit their budget requests for the following school year to their department chairs in September. Department chairs then meet with the principal to discuss funding recommendations. The principal meets with central office personnel to discuss staffing levels and attends meetings with the school board before submitting the budget to the business administrator. In November, the principal informs the department chairs of their recommended budgets. Changes to the budget items are done at the department level. Once the budget is approved and implemented, any budget requests have to be submitted to the department chair for his or her signature and then to the principal for his approval before submission to the central office. The administration has access to view budget balances online, but the department chairs have to call the bookkeeper or wait to receive a monthly hard copy of their budget balance and expenditures. By having faculty and building administrators actively involved in the development and implementation of the budget, FMRHS helps to ensure the school has dependable and adequate funding to provide students with the curriculum and instruction necessary to achieve their 21st century learning expectations. (self-study, department leaders, budget timeline, teachers) In most areas the school site and plant supports the delivery of high quality school programs and services. In spite of working with a level-funded budget over the past five years, FMRHS has benefited from a recently passed 4.5 million dollar bond for renovations. In addition to upgrades to the science labs, locker rooms, shop areas, and heating and fire alarm systems, the school has worked hard to ensure that the facility is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Prior to the renovation, a new air conditioning and ventilation system was installed in the auditorium as well as cushions added to the wooden seats. A great deal of energy and resources were spent updating and increasing the amount of technology within the school, adding numerous wireless network access points, and piloting the use of tablets in two classes, with the future goal of providing every student with an electronic device. Even though significant improvements have been made to the facility, some areas of concern remained. The health office lacks a confidential meeting place and continues to occupy a small, poorly designed space. Additionally, there is a shortage of classrooms, confidential meeting space, and storage for theater equipment and supplies, and the library space is now shared with the athletic director and district-level technology personnel and equipment. Slightly more than half of students (57.9 percent), staff (56.6 percent), and parents (58.8 percent) believe the school site and plant supports the delivery of high quality school programs and services. Having recently completed a 4.5 million dollar renovation, the FMRHS site and plant generally supports the delivery of high quality school programs and services. By maintaining an annual capital reserve fund, the school is also in a position to make continued improvements as it moves toward fully implementing a 21st century curriculum. (facility tour, self-study, teachers, central office personnel, Endicott Survey) FMRHS consistently maintains documentation that the physical plant and facilities meet all applicable federal and state laws and are mostly in compliance with local fire, health, and safety regulations. The district director of maintenance and the school principal are responsible for maintaining all documents that confirm that the school meets all applicable federal and state laws. With a portion of the renovation funds, the entire fire alarm system was replaced. According to the director of maintenance, prior to the renovation, there were approximately 60 fire sensors throughout the building; there are now 360 fire
sensors placed throughout the school. A careful review of the school fire and life safety inspection checklist confirms that the school has made compliance a high priority. In addition to these improvements, the individual ventilation systems in the science labs as well as the machine, wood, and welding shops have been updated. Further, using renovation funds, the school has updated its electrical infrastructure to accommodate more technology. By establishing an online work-order system, the school also provides the staff with an efficient way to identify repair and maintenance needs. The school has spent roughly 12,000 dollars over the last two years to dispose of old and/or unknown chemicals. In the updated science labs, there is no drainage for shower and eye wash stations, and, while the heating system has been updated, many students and teachers claim that the temperatures within individual classrooms fluctuate tremendously. During a tour of the facilities, a large hole in the concrete floor was observed in a corner of one of the CTE rooms where pipes and electrical and technological wiring left the building. FMRHS has made considerable improvements to the building, maintained documentation that the physical plant and facilities meet all applicable federal and state laws, and is in general compliance with local fire, health, and safety regulations. By providing appropriate drainage for the science eye wash and shower stations and filling the open hole, FMRHS can ensure it has the facilities necessary to support the delivery of high quality programs and services. (facility tour, self-study, teachers, students, central office personnel) Most professional staff consciously engages parents and families as partners in each student’s education and reach out specifically to those families who are less connected with the school. Like most education organizations, FMRHS relies heavily on technology to communicate with parents. The school’s student information system, PowerSchool, gives parents access to their child’s grades, attendance records, assignments, and school bulletins via an external portal. The school also mails a hard copy of reports to parents as needed. In addition, parent/teacher conferences take place once each semester, and Mountain Pride Night is held on an annual basis. The grade 8 parent/student transition night and the monthly newsletter provide a substantial amount of information. Moreover, teachers are required to send home a grade form which informs parents when their child is in jeopardy of failing a course. It was noted by staff members that the school administration fully expects teachers to communicate student struggles with parents by phone. Lastly, parents are invited, along with their child, to attend a scheduling meeting with a guidance counselor to select courses for the following year. Even though there is evidence to suggest the staff actively engages parents as partners in each student’s education, only 35.4 percent of parents agrees with this in the Endicott Survey. With a continued effort to actively engage parents and families as partners in each student’s education and to reach out specifically to those families who have been less connected with the school, FMRHS can help increase the level of parent advocacy needed to create a collaborative culture to support the needs of every student. (teachers, self-study, parents, department leaders) FMRHS has developed productive parent, community, business, and higher education partnerships that support student learning. The job experience program is a community/business partnership that offers students a two-part experience consisting of classroom instruction and a 12-week vocational training session at local businesses. There are over 40 local businesses that accepted students in this program. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program is strongly connected to each of the communities within the district. The cadets often participate in funeral ceremonies for local veterans and conduct a variety of community-based projects. Roughly 22 to 25 percent of parents attends parentteacher conferences and participates on school committees. Booster clubs exist for many athletic teams and extracurricular activities. The Fall Mountain Music Department has a parent organization that supports approximately 140 members of band and choir. Community volunteers take care of the animals in the agriculture programs during school vacations. There are also educational opportunities for students who enroll in Running Start courses, whose students are awarded college credit after successfully
completing the course. As FMRHS continues to develop productive parent, community, business, and higher education partnerships that support student learning, students will be well-prepared to achieve all of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. (teachers, parents, self-study, department leaders) Commendations 1. The on-line learning opportunities that provide options for student to take classes not offered at FMRHS 2. The community support for the 4.5 million dollar renovation 3. The on-line technology and maintenance work orders 4. The preventative maintenance plan on kitchen equipment 5. The access to 21st century technology 6. The assignment of a school laptop to every teacher 7. The funding of the capital improvement account with surplus funds 8. The self-reliance of the maintenance department 9. The inclusive budgetary process 10. The numerous wireless access points 11. The parent invitation to attend the student course selection process meeting 12. The transition night for providing information to incoming 8th graders 13. The active involvement of the Junior ROTC program in the community 14. The opportunity for students to earn college credit through the Running Start program Recommendations 1. Ensure ongoing professional development and curriculum revision is adequately funded 2. Create and implement a schedule for the replacement of furniture 3. Provide professional development for the custodial staff in products, procedures, and operation of equipment 4. Assess future potential reduction in staff and the impact it may have on course offerings 5. Provide department chairs with online access to their budget balances 6. Increase the necessary privacy and space for the health office 7. Identify a storage area for theater equipment and supplies 8. Address the drainage issues for showers and eye wash stations in the science labs 9. Explore ways to increase parent involvement in the school, especially those parents who are less connected with the school
FOLLOW-UP RESPONSIBILITIES This comprehensive evaluation report reflects the findings of the school's self-study and those of the visiting committee. It provides a blueprint for the faculty, administration, and other officials to use to improve the quality of programs and services for the students in Fall Mountain Regional High School. The faculty, school board, and superintendent should be apprised by the building administration yearly of progress made addressing visiting committee recommendations. Since it is in the best interest of the students that the citizens of the district become aware of the strengths and limitations of the school and suggested recommendations for improvement, the Commission requires that the evaluation report be made public in accordance with the Commission's Policy on Distribution, Use, and Scope of the Visiting Committee Report. A school's initial/continued accreditation is based on satisfactory progress implementing valid recommendations of the visiting committee and others identified by the Commission as it monitors the school's progress and changes which occur at the school throughout the decennial cycle. To monitor the school's progress in the Follow-Up Program, the Commission requires that the principal of Fall Mountain Regional High School submit routine Two- and Five-Year Progress Reports documenting the current status of all evaluation report recommendations, with particular detail provided for any recommendation which may have been rejected or those items on which no action has been taken. In addition, responses must be detailed on all recommendations highlighted by the Commission in its notification letters to the school. School officials are expected to have completed or be in the final stages of completion of all valid visiting committee recommendations by the time the Five-Year Progress Report is submitted. The Commission may request additional Special Progress Reports if one or more of the Standards are not being met in a satisfactory manner or if additional information is needed on matters relating to evaluation report recommendations or substantive changes in the school. To ensure that it has current information about the school, the Commission has an established Policy on Substantive Change requiring that principals of member schools report to the Commission within sixty days (60) of occurrence any substantive change which negatively impacts the school's adherence to the Commission's Standards for Accreditation. The report of substantive change must describe the change itself and detail any impact which the change has had on the school's ability to meet the Standards for Accreditation. The Commission's Substantive Change Policy is included in the Appendix on page 58. All other substantive changes should be included in the Two- and Five-Year Progress Reports and/or the Annual Report which is required of each member school to ensure that the Commission office has current statistical data on the school. The Commission urges school officials to establish a formal follow-up program at once to review and implement all findings of the self-study and valid recommendations identified in the evaluation report. An outline of the Follow-Up Program is available in the Commission’s Accreditation Handbook which was given to the school at the onset of the self-study. Additional direction regarding suggested procedures and reporting requirements is provided at Follow-Up Seminars offered by Commission staff following the on-site visit. In closing, the visiting committee wishes to express its deep appreciation for the hospitality, warmth, and courtesy extended so graciously by the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and city officials associated with Fall Mountain Regional High School. Their openness and trust was extremely helpful to the members of the visiting team. The committee wishes the community of Fall Mountain success in all its future endeavors.
Fall Mountain Regional High School NEASC Accreditation Visit March 18-21, 2012 Visiting Committee
Janette Radowicz Salem High School Salem, NH 03079 Kenneth Proulx Berlin High School (retired) Berlin, NH 03750 Joe Beasley Rivendell Academy Orford, NH 03777 Jessamyn Dechert Hillsboro-Deering High School Hillsborough, NH 03244 Elizabeth Dunn Hinsdale Middle/High School Hinsdale, NH 03451 Celeste Feren Somersworth High school Somersworth, NH 03878 Kristen Halverson Merrimack Valley High School Penacook, NH 03303 Carl Hildbrandt Oxbow High School Bradford, VT 05033 Gerald Kuhn Monadnock Regional Middle/High School Swanzey, NH 03446 Pamela LaFountain Newport Middle/High School Newport, NH 03773 Jean Meloney Moultonborough Academy Moultonborough, NH 03254 David Miller Kearsarge Regional High School North Sutton, NH 03260 AnnMarie Morse Pembroke Academy Pembroke, NH 03275 Ray Palin Sunapee Middle/High School Sunapee, NH 0378 Gail Paludi Lebanon Public Schools Lebanon, NH 03766 Laura Rainone Oyster River High School Durham, NH 03824
NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS & COLLEGES Commission on Public Secondary Schools
SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE POLICY Principals of member schools must report to the Commission within sixty (60) days of occurrence any substantive change in the school which has a negative impact on the school's ability to meet any of the Commission's Standards for Accreditation. The report of a substantive change must describe the change itself as well as detail the impact on the school’s ability to meet the Standards. The following are potential areas where there might be negative substantive changes which must be reported: elimination of fine arts, practical arts, and student activities diminished upkeep and maintenance of facilities significantly decreased funding cuts in the level of administrative and supervisory staffing cuts in the number of teachers and/or guidance counselors grade level responsibilities of the principal cuts in the number of support staff decreases in student services cuts in the educational media staffing increases in student enrollment that cannot be accommodated takeover by the state inordinate user fees changes in the student population that warrant program or staffing modification(s) that cannot be accommodated, e.g., the number of special needs students or vocational students or students with limited English proficiency