NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 9, 2012

Mulqueen charts new course for School Committee

Subcommittees to meet on first Tuesday, full board on third Thursday

(Continued)

Maria Gray, of the Pentucket Association of Teachers, joined Mulqueen, Eichhorst, Doug Gelina of Groveland and Jayne Broz of Merrimac for the hour-long Human Resources meeting. Gray had high praise for Mulqueen’s efforts to listen and work with teachers since coming to the district this summer. She called the start of the new school year “refreshing, energizing, and exciting” for teachers.

The subcommittee learned that Mulqueen has agreed to submit to the same type of evaluation process that, under a new state law, teachers’ performances will be rated this year. “I need to demonstrate that it is not to be feared,” he said. Describing the process as “a new way of looking at things,” Mulqueen stressed that the focus is on helping teachers improve, not punishing them. The teacher evaluations balance a consideration of student MCAS results with “district-specific” measurers.

Mulqueen made the case to the subcommittee for adding more support in the area of technology in the upcoming budget and talked about his desire to upgrade the middle school library.

A good portion of time with the Teaching, Learning and Accountability subcommittee was spent on discussing the most productive ways to use MCAS results. Chris Reading of West Newbury and Joe D’Amore of Groveland joined Gelina and Broz on this subcommittee.

Following changes in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in one class over the course of several years may say more about the work being done at a particular school than noting which school scored highest in a particular category in a given year, the superintendent said.

A consistent drop in math proficiency between grades 6 and 7 over four years is an indication “the system needs to talk to other parts of the system more,” Mulqueen said.

Noting a decline in math proficiency in grade 5 at the Donahue School between 2011 and 2012, Mulqueen reminded the subcommittee that those students spent a portion of that year housed at the high school during an emergency mold and asbestos remediation at Donahue. When it comes to evaluating text scores, “context matters,” he stressed.

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