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Easthampton schools set goals for student achievement and parental involvement

Boosting high school graduation rates, improving math instruction and expanding communications with elementary school parents are among the goals outlined in new improvement plans for city schools.

The individual school plans are designed to help the district meet longterm goals outlined in a strategic action plan created last year. That plan was developed with the help of school administrators, teachers, parents and other community members.

Highlights of improvement plans recently presented to the School Committee include:

Easthampton High School: Increase the four-year graduation rate from 74.4 percent to 77.4 percent by August of 2013. The Drop-out Prevention Committee will meet at regular intervals to review student data and create support plans for at-risk students. Guidance counselors will meet in the fall with all seniors to ensure they are on track to complete plans for college and careers.

White Brook Middle School: By August 2013, the school will reduce by 10 percent the number of special education students who tested in the warning category on the English and math MCAS. Teachers will also be using new classroom practices aimed at ensuring that all students are meeting learning targets.

Center/Pepin Elementary: Create professional learning teams for all teachers and a new data team to help analyze test score results, behavior data and other information on student achievement. The school will send out a parent survey and work to improve student conduct through the use of “positive behavior support,” a strategy that emphasizes “respect, responsibility and safety.”

Maple School Elementary: A parent survey, parent/principal forums and math and family reading nights are among the strategies that will be used to increase parental involvement. The school will also create a data team to collect and analyze information on student achievement and develop a related action plan.

Special Education: Increase by 15 percent the services delivered to special education students through “inclusion” in regular classes. Boost by 10 percent the performance index on standardized math tests for students with disabilities across all grade levels. Rework staffing assignments so that special education staff are available at all schools.

Technology: Develop a web page that will help parents use the Parent Portal homework and grade-checking site and extend the portal to elementary school families. Track use of new online system for new statewide teacher/administrator evaluations. Complete technology training by April 2013 for staff who will be moving to the new Easthampton High School building under construction on Williston Avenue.

Detailed school improvement plans are available on individual city school websites, which can be found at www.easthampton.k12.ma.us.

And the winners were ...

Students at White Brook Middle School voted early — Nov. 1 — as part of the My Voice National Student Mock Election sponsored by the Pearson Foundation. The academic exercise in voting and democracy began in 1980 as the National Student/Parent Mock Election and since then, has involved more than 50 million students, according to Pearson.

In a vote of 369 to 92, White Brook students chose to give Barack Obama another four years in office, reported Principal Allison Rebello. Seventeen students did not vote and five ballots were invalid.

National mock election results were due to be announced on Nov. 1, but the deadline was pushed to 3 p.m. on Nov. 6 to accommodate students in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Save the date

A workshop on how to pay for college will be held Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. at Easthampton High School. Sponsored by the nonprofit Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, the session will offer suggestions for how families can plan for and cover college expenses. MEFA offers community education programs, college savings plans and other financing options to Massachusetts families. For details on the workshop, call the EHS guidance office at 529-1588.

Barbara Solow can be reached at BSolow@gazettenet.com.

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