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Superintendent highlights plans for 05-06

~ Submitted by LPS Superintendent Dr. Scott AndersEn

LONGMEADOW School is open. What a wonderful time of year! It is a marvelous thing to see our youth back in school. It is even more marvelous to watch them grow - physically, socially and academically - each year.

When I look at our students, I am filled with hope. Our future is in their hands; and conversely, their future is in our hands. The Longmeadow community - the parents, students, staff and others - is shaping its own future by shaping the future of those who walk the halls of our schools.

Longmeadow is a good school district. We are blessed with a rich and long-lasting tradition of academic excellence. However, we cannot rest on our laurels and must seek continual improvement. There are many things we could be doing better.

To this end, I would like to highlight a few of the key initiatives we have underway in our schools. These initiatives will have lasting impact and will improve the most important aspect of what we do: teaching and learning.

The first initiative is the K-12 implementation of the John Collins writing program. Research strongly supports the need for our students to be strong writers. In fact, as our students' writing abilities improve, so does their academic performance in all subject areas.

The John Collins program achieves several key objectives. First, it will provide consistency throughout ALL grades in the way that we speak, teach and learn about writing. There will be common language that all can understand.

Next, our staff will agree upon and coordinate the types of writing and writing skills required at each grade level. This process will also allow our staff to focus with laser precision on the key elements that make up quality writing. Finally, this program has built in a structure to have students reflect upon their own writing and to have teachers reflect upon their own teaching of writing. This is an essential component of improvement for both the student and the teacher.

Another important initiative is the new elementary report card. Last year we piloted a new standards-based report card in English/Language Arts only. This year we are implementing the standards-based report card in all subject areas. These new report cards will provide meaningful information to the students and parents based upon identified subject area skills.

They will also provide a clear picture of student progress and be able to better identify student strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the information also helps teachers better plan their teaching to meet the needs of our students.

The report cards are still a work in progress. We will be seeking feedback throughout the year from all involved to help refine this new reporting process.

The third initiative I would like to highlight is the Curriculum Review Cycle. This cycle was approved by the School Committee last year and provides a seven-year time frame in which we will review our entire curriculum, including the materials, the assessment and staff training.

The cycle prevents us from letting any one subject area become significantly out of date and provides for a consistent mechanism to ensure we are using our resources to best support teaching and learning. For this school year, we will be reviewing our Social Studies curriculum K-12 as we begin the cycle.

The final initiative is the development of a new three-year strategic plan. Our District Learning Team (DLT) has been working on this for the past year. (The DLT is a representative group from our community.) We have developed new vision, mission and belief statements and we have also identified four Priority Focus Areas (PFA).

This new plan will serve us beginning the 2006-2007 school year. There will be opportunities this fall for additional community input and then the School Committee plans to place a resolution on the fall town meeting warrant that will ask the voters to approve or disapprove of this three-year plan. Information is posted on our web site, Updates will be posted as we progress.

These initiatives, along with the myriad of other tasks we are completing are zeroing in on providing the best possible teaching and learning experience for our students. I hope you follow the progress and provide your input as we strive to do and be the best.