Easthampton Schools Set Ambitious Goals for Student Outcomes

The Easthampton School Committee convened recently, discussing a comprehensive strategy to enhance educational outcomes as outlined in the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) plan. The meeting was focused on addressing achievement disparities among students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and with disabilities. The committee approved a plan aimed at setting ambitious targets for increasing proficiency levels, expanding support systems, and enhancing the high school experience to facilitate better access to advanced coursework.

The central issue addressed at the meeting was the achievement gap on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam between low-income students and their peers. The committee has set a target to elevate the percentage of low-income students meeting or exceeding proficiency levels from 23% to 35% within three years. A significant strategy in reaching this goal involves the implementation of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to provide intensified professional development for teachers and designated common planning time.

For students with disabilities, the committee discussed the importance of improving their growth percentile in math. To support this objective, the expansion of MTSS programming into middle school and the restructuring of instructional time for targeted small group interventions were proposed.

Furthermore, the committee is focused on increasing graduation rates and the completion of advanced coursework for students with disabilities. The goals are to improve the graduation rate from 66.7% to 80% and to boost the completion of advanced coursework from 7.7% to 20% over three years. To achieve this, the committee is considering reimagining the high school experience and developing pathways that support students in accessing advanced coursework.

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The relationship between the SOA plan and SOA funding was clarified during the meeting, emphasizing that a plans is essential to receive the necessary funds. The development of this plan was inclusive, incorporating input from the leadership team, school councils, and the education association. A question regarding the four-year graduation rate for students with disabilities was raised, noting an increase when the measurement period is extended to five years.

Another topic included the introduction of a new AP pre-calculus course at Easthampton High School, intended to provide additional opportunities for students to engage in advanced academic work. This initiative aligns with the broader discussion led by Superintendent Moran Banda and Julian on increasing student awareness and support for special education students in advanced classes.

The Business Director, Mr. Nick Berier, reported that 69.61% of the local appropriations had been spent or encumbered and raised concerns on the forecasted deficit at the year’s end, primarily due to utility bills and district tuition expenses. He also briefed the committee on the upcoming budget process and the summer food service program, which expects increased participation as the schools are eligible sites.

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The Personnel report for February detailed the hiring of two substitutes and three separations, while also noting vacancies for a Middle School librarian and a speech language pathologist substitute. Additionally, the Policy Subcommittee, led by Sam Hunter, focused on updating technology-related policies and regulating cell phone use.

The Finance Subcommittee, presented by Megan Harvey, is working on the fiscal year 25 budget, with a budget hearing scheduled for March 26th. The committee voted on several action items, including approving Easthampton Public Schools as a school choice district, the 2024-2025 school calendar draft, a special education budget transfer request, school payroll, and authorizing accounts payable for payment.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

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