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School Committee, Principals Discuss Improvement Plans

Representatives from all schools were at Wednesday meeting.

The principals of all Wilmington public schools were in attendance at Wednesday’s School Committee as they discussed their School Improvement Plans with the members.

First up was Eric Tracy, principal. The School Committee’s main questions involved the building’s library, which was the subject of concern during its accreditation process.

There is no online catalogue at the school library, which still uses a card system.

“Obviously that’s not right,” said Robert Hayes, who stressed the importance of the facility. “A library isn’t about reading. It’s about learning.” 

Tracy said the school has already addressed integrating the library with the curriculum, and he believes progress has already been made.

“It’s not just about what books are on the shelves,” said Tracy. “We’ll definitely be able to make more than sufficient progress.”

The Wilmington Middle School goals focused on MCAS scores in math from the eighth grade students.

A total of 50 percent of eighth graders were in the warning or needs improvement section of the results, which is an increase of 13 percent from the previous test when 37 percent of students fell in that category. The state average of students in those areas is 47 percent.

“The eighth grade has been an enigma,” said principal Christine McMenimen. “We wonder if they realize the accountability and responsibility they have with the test. You hear a lot of, ‘Does this count now?’ That’s one piece of the puzzle. The teaching needs to be another piece of the puzzle.”

North and West Elementary School principals also discussed testing. To prepare for the testing, teachers at the schools took the exam and noted where they thought children might have troubles. Then, they saw where the students struggled, and the areas didn’t always match up.

As a result, the teachers were able to see how they could help improve their lessons.

Shawsheen Elementary educators look to reach adequate achievement for a second straight year, so the school can be removed as a “school in need of improvement.”

The School Committee next meets on Nov. 9.

Robert Hayes October 28, 2011 at 02:42 AM
To give residents some context to what was briefly discussed regarding the high school library at the School Committee Meeting, below are some selections from the high school's recent NEAS&C Accreditation Report: "The library media center does not have adequate resources to support the curriculum. The library has 24 desktop computers and 30 laptop computers, of which 24 are currently fuctional. It is difficult for two classes to use the library media center simultaneously since there is not adequate space to accomodate the classes. ... The print collection is not managed with a databse, and the school library does not share resources with the town library. ... The library media center should serve as the intellectual hub of the school. Without sufficient resources to staff, supply and modernize the library media center, students are not able to reliably engage as self-drected learners and in the school-wide expectations."
Robert Hayes October 28, 2011 at 02:48 AM
"...The library media services need to be brought into lien with state recommendations. ... The ability of the librarian to manage resources and deliver the level of support required for collaboration with content area tachers to serve curriculum and learning is impeded, according to the librarian, by a lack of an assistant. ... The library/information services program and materials are not fully integrated into the school's curriculum and instructional program. ... The lack of faculty awareness regarding the potential services of the library as well as the minimal collaborative planning keeps the library from being an effective part of the curricular life of the school. ... The library media specialist is knowledgable about curriculum, but has been unable to effectively help support its implenetation. ... Few [teachers] report consutling with her when developing or revising curriculum and instruction. A change in the climate of learning and research instruction included in curricula, requiring consultation with the librarian and her active involvement in planning lessons and creating curricula would benefit both the teachers and the students."
Robert Hayes October 28, 2011 at 02:52 AM
"A limited range of materials, technologies, and other library/information services that are responsive to the school's student population is available to students and faculty members and utilized to improve some teaching and learning. The print collection in teh library is signifcantly outdated. The yearly budget is used to update specific sections, the process is slow as a result of hte lack of funds. ... Increased materials, technology and information services would position the library to be a driving force in improving teaching and learning at Wilmington High School. ... Just over one-quarter of the students report that they use the library during the school day, while nearly half of the parents polled say that they believe their children use the library services. ... Wihle access to the library during the school day is available, the uneven use of the library keepts it from beocming a core part of school learning and instruction. ... The library's lack of an automated circulation or digital cataloging is an impediement to its full potential, however, and students are required to learn the method of finding print resources through a card catalog. No methods are in place to take advantage of interlibrary loans from the public library for learns at the high school. ... Because of the outdated systems and resources in place in the library, students and faculty members are forced to supplement library services with those of other instructions if they have access to them."
Robert Hayes October 28, 2011 at 03:02 AM
"Recommendations: (1) Implement a library catalog automation process to bring school up to current standards. ... (3) Involve the library media specialist in collaborative planning of curriculum and instruction with content area teachers (4) Increase collaboration between the library program and community resources. (5) Update and increase library materials." School libraries aren't JUST about books and reading, they're about information and learning. That was point I was trying to make with one of the statement's the article references. I understand the roles of school libraries are changing. Unfortunately, the Wilmington High's school library isn't keeping up with the times. The library should be the informational and technological hub of the school -- not a warehouse for books from the 1960s and 1970s. To be fair, SOME progress is being made, but certainly not enough, evident by last night's "progress report."
Matt Schooley (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Robert, Thanks for providing this information. It can be difficult for me to capture everything said at meetings, so having a firsthand perspective is very important for readers. It was an interesting point you made during the discussion about the connection between Wilmington Memorial Library and the high school, both as a resource and as a comparison point with the card catalogues. I'll be interested to see how these improvement plans work out. It does sound like overall, there are many positives in the district. Matt
Robert Hayes October 28, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Hi Matt -- Not a problem. Wasn't meant to be a criticism. Yes, the library launched their online catalog in 1987. WML gradually phased out the card catalog, eliminating it entirely in 1995. The high school library - in 2011 - is STILL using a card catalog. Absolutely -- Overall, there are MANY positives in the district. I always look forward to opening my school committee packet every other weekend and reading the WONDERFUL things that are going on in our school system. Thank you to the Patch for covering the meeting... and don't leave us after the high school vote! Lots go on at these meetings year-round that the public should know about and, frankly, would be very interested in reading about, in my opinion. :)
Matt Schooley (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 03:30 AM
No worries there. Like it or not (Hopefully like it), we'll be around long after the high school vote! Looking forward to covering the events in the district coming up this school year, including School Committee meetings!
Christine October 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM
I had several thoughts after reading this and I commend the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and thoughful discussion about educational/town planning in Wilmington. What many people outside of education do not realize is that there is an entire paradign shift happening worldwide in education--that is not happening in many of our classrooms across the US . The answers to rote questions or simple math calculation problems can be found by asking a question in Google or on one of the hundreds of math "homework helper" websites. Our children's education, including homework and learing, needs to move them beyond this thinking and into application, synthesis and innovation. But without reliable, timely and updated access to information through technology, media, and teacher training, our kids are living a double life and we are not harnessing their interest, engagement or skills. As a district we need a LONG TERM plan for technology implementation, teacher training and upgrade/maintenance. This will not happen overnight, but we have motivated teachers and a town with very knowledgeable people who can lead us if we support them. Thinking as a unified town,maybe we can think of a way to use our library right next door instead of having two libraries which essentially do the same thing... and it would be more fiscally sound too..just ideas...
Maryann October 28, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Great information for the community Robert and Christine! We are so fortunate to have you both :)
kickbacks galore November 09, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Some people are so fortunate to go to private schools? Should we privatize our schools?

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