Our vision is to connect, engage, and inspire all students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to reach academic excellence. We, the educators of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, will instill habits of reflection and inquiry to challenge our students in setting ambitious academic and personal goals. Students will develop a strong voice to express thoughts and ideas in the community and the confidence to showcase their talents and successes in preparation for entry into college and the world of work. 

 

March Blog 2016

March  2016

 

Our vision is to connect, engage, and inspire all students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to reach academic excellence. We, the educators of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, will instill habits of reflection and inquiry to challenge our students in setting ambitious academic and personal goals. Students will develop a strong voice to express thoughts and ideas in the community and the confidence to showcase their talents and successes in preparation for entry into college and the world of work.

Academic Rigor

What do educators mean when they use the term academic rigor as it relates to instruction in the classroom?

It is not uncommon for parents to communicate their child is not challenged in the classroom. Often parents frame their concerns such as, “The work is too easy. My child speeds through his/her homework.  My child is bored at school. My child completes his/her homework in school.” It is our school system’s obligation and responsibility to meet all needs of the learners that sit before us in our classrooms. These needs include the social and emotional well being of our students as well as their academic needs.

The Glossary of Education Reform (2014) defines rigor “to describe instruction, schoolwork, learning experiences, and educational expectations that are academically, intellectually, and personally challenging.” Rigor is high expectations for learning and all students should be held to the same learning standards. Rigor is providing students with the skills, tools, and knowledge to graduate college and career ready.  The 21st century workplace and colleges and universities require the skills of collaboration, teamwork, problem solving, innovation, and critical thinking. Critical thinking skills are the ability to understand, interpret, analyze, evaluate and create. This is academic rigor.

Many of you are very familiar with the 2011 Massachusetts Frameworks in ELA and Mathematics incorporating the Common Core State Standards. From the perspective of an educator, these learning standards are rigorous. They form a blueprint for what students should know and be able to do by the completion of any given grade.  The expectation is all students can and will master grade level standards. This is academic rigor. 

The learning standards, or as often referred, the 2011 Frameworks, can be viewed here.

http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/math/0311.pdf#search=%222011%22

http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/ela/0311.pdf#search=%222011%22

The National PTA provides families with an abundance of resources related to education.  For more information on the Common Core: http://www.pta.org/ccssvideos

There is much controversy in the nation on the Common Core, and there is a ballot initiative to end Common Core in Massachusetts. This would be a huge step backwards and detrimental to the work all of the educators in the Commonwealth have put forth over the last five years.  Educators have spent much time participating in professional development, developing local curricula maps, and significant funds have been allocated to purchase resources aligned to the 2011 Frameworks. Massachusetts became a standards-based learning system under the Educational Reform Act of 1993. Massachusetts is a leader in student achievement and academic excellence.  We need to continue to maintain this ranking! This is rigor!

Academic rigor is students challenging themselves and setting goals to participate in Honors courses, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and meeting the MassCore program of studies all of which are available to students at our high school.

Advanced Placement is college courses with final examinations for high school students created by the College Board. The College Board creates the AP curriculum and final exams for various subjects. The exams are scored on a 1 to 5 scale. Most colleges recognize a score of 3-5 as a high score and will exempt students from introductory coursework in college.  We have been adding AP courses to the high school’s program of studies. This year we added AP Biology and AP Physics. Next school year we are adding AP Chemistry and AP English Language and Composition. It is important that as your child embarks on their high school career, they plan an academic program that leads to taking honors courses beginning freshman year and AP courses as juniors and seniors.

MassCore is a rigorous academic pathway for high schoolers.  The intended program outcomes are high school students will be well prepared to enter the workplace and enter college without taking remedial courses.  Please see the MassCore program of study.  http://www.doe.mass.edu/ccr/masscore/MassCoreStudents.pdf

It is important to know that students may enroll in honors courses, AP courses, and meet the MassCore program of study concurrently throughout their high school career.

We are increasing rigor and opportunities for our middle school students. ASRMS 8th graders can take French I, Spanish I, and Integrated Mathematics I. Students will receive high school credit for successfully completing the foreign language course.  In addition to high school credit, successful completion of a foreign language course provides an advantage to students in that they can meet the Foreign Language requirement of MassCore as a freshman by taking Spanish II or French II.

Over the next three months, students will be measured for grade level mastery of the learning standards through the standardized assessments of MCAS and PARCC. Please discuss with your child the importance of doing their best to accurately show what they have learned in their respective grade. Students’ performance on assessments provide us valuable data on teaching and learning, and informs curricula improvements and decisions.

Please contact your child’s principal, school counselor, Assistant Superintendent Hamel, or myself should you have questions or would like more information.

FY17 ASRSD Budget

The Ayer Shirley Regional School Committee certified the FY17 budget at its meeting on March 1, 2016. 

  • FY17 Total Budget                                                            $29,697,059 
  • FY17 budget is a 3% increase over FY16 budget
  • FY17 Total Operating Assessment & Excluded Debt        $18,141,293
  • Ayer Assessment                                                              $11,079,744
  • Shirley Assessment                                                           $7,061,549

FY17 Budget Drivers

  • Significant increase to health insurance at 12.8%
  • Health insurance for retirees increase at 43%
  • Property insurance increase at 19%
  • State funding is relatively flat-modest increase of $13,301

Highlights of the FY17 Budget

  • Maintains reasonable class size
  • Sustains current programming
  • Adds courses at the high school: AP Chemistry, AP English Language & Composition, Computer Programming, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Biology for all Grade 9 students
  • Instructional Technology Teachers at PH and LAW
  • Additional custodian at high school
  • Grade 2 teacher at LAW

The next step in the process is for the budgets to be approved at the Annual Town Meetings. Town Meeting in Shirley is on April 23, 2016, and Ayer’s Town Meeting is on May 9, 2016.

Happy Spring!

Most sincerely,

Mary E. Malone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

 

Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/rigor/

Middle school town meeting with students

Town meeting with Grade 7 students.

Show of student support at girls' playoff game against Tri-County.

Meet our robot, Merlin!

Great team support at the Robotics competition!

Instrumental Petting Zoo at District Arts Night.  Great idea! 

Middle school and high school bands.

Math Bingo, Grade 1, Mrs. France's class.

141 Washington Street | Phone: 978-772-8600
1 Hospital Rd | Phone: (978) 772-8600
115 Washington Street | Phone: (978) 772-8600
34 Lancaster Road | Phone: (978) 772-8600