Oct. 28, 2014 Ad Hoc Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Grade 5
David McCarthy, Chair
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 5:00 P.M.
Coddington Building

Purpose: To share all aspects of the Quincy Public Schools Grade 5 program and explore K-5 and 5-8 configuration similarities and differences.

  1. Welcome/Introductions - Dr. DeCristofaro

  2. Grade 5 Program of Study - Mrs. Perkins

  3. Title I Program (4 school sites) - Mrs. Perkins

  4. Class Size/Staffing/Schedules - Dr. DeCristofaro

  5. Elementary and Middle School Configurations - Dr. DeCristofaro

  6. Open Forum  An opportunity for community input regarding the Quincy Public Schools. After giving his or her name and address, each speaker may make a presentation of no more than four minutes to the School Committee. An individual may not exchange their time or yield to others.


Quincy School Committee
Ad Hoc Grade 5 Subcommittee Meeting
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A meeting of the Ad Hoc Grade 5 Subcommittee was held on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm at Coddington Hall. Present were Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Ms. Barbara Isola, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, and Mr. Dave McCarthy, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Ms. Christine Barrett; Dr. John Franceschini; Ms. Beth Hallett; Mrs. Maura Papile; Mrs. Erin Perkins; Ms. Madeline Roy; Ms. Judy Todd; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mr. McCarthy called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm and reviewed the meeting purpose and agenda. Dr. DeCristofaro outlined that written concerns were shared by a group of parents and that there would be a presentation, followed by an opportunity for Open Forum.

Mrs. Perkins presented the Grade 5 Program of Study for elementary schools, all students are being taught from the same curriculum materials for all subjects. Non-core classes include music, art, physical education, library and technology support. Typical after-school activities include Academic Enrichment, Sports/Wellness, Visual and Performing Arts, Community Service and Leadership, and Citywide Band on Tuesdays. Report cards are distributed three times per year, parent conferences are held in November and March, and grades are based on a rubric of 1-4.

Ms. Roy said that student learning outcomes and expectations are identical for Grade 5 students regardless of setting. All curriculum materials are the same. One difference is that there is slightly more class time at the middle school setting. For non-core classes, Grade 5 students at the middle schools receive library skills and health lessons. Extracurricular activities are the same type of activities, with additional opportunities for partipating in the middle school cross-country, flag football, and soccer programs. Students are able to participate in any performing arts and community service programs. For citywide band, middle school grade 5 students attend on early release days, so only twice per month. Professional development is common for all Grade 5 teachers, systemwide. Report cards are distributed three times annually, along with interim reports. There is one formal conference opportunity at the end of the first term, and grades are A through D.

Dr. DeCristofaro noted that a new Aspen-based elementary report card is being developed so there are options to consider staying with current system or moving to a common system for all Grade 5 students.

Mrs. Perkins reviewed the Title I program, a federal grant primarily focused on Clifford Marshall, Lincoln Hancock, Parker, and Snug Harbor, Grades K through 3. The program is for staffing and services, including Early Childhood staff, Literacy staff, Math Interventionists, Academic Classroom teachers to reduce class size, Student Support Services, after school and summer school programs, and Professional Development.

Dr. DeCristofaro reviewed information about class sizes for Grade 5 at all schools; the class size range is from 17 to 24. Dr. DeCristofaro showed the progression of students changing classes at schools for Grades 3 through 5 across Quincy Public Schools. There are a variety of approaches, but all schools change classes for ELA/Reading and Math, some beginning at Grade 2.

Ms. Owens shared information about other Massachusetts cities and towns with the Grades 5-8 middle school configuration, about 60 total. Several towns have both Grades 5-8 and 6-8 schools. For Open Enrollment, 10 requests for Grade 5 placement were received in 2013-2014, 3 were granted. In 2012-2013, 8 of 11 requests were granted and in 2011-2012, all 15 requests received were granted. There are currently no requests for Grade 5 Open Enrollment.

Achievements of current Grade 10 QPS students who attended Grade 5 at Point Webster and Sterling were shared. Of 115 students, 53 are in Advanced and/or Honors classes and on the Honor Roll. 26 scored Advanced on one or more of the Grade 8 MCAS.

Ms. Barrett and Dr. Franceschini then spoke about Grade 5 at the middle school from their role as principals. Ms. Barrett noted that she has a unique perspective, having been principal at both Sterling and Point Webster and feels this is a positive experience for staff and students. At Point Webster, Grade 5 students have attended there for 14 years and three staff members have been with the grade since the inception. Dr. Franceschini discussed that this year, Sterling is piloting a model where teachers are working in teams of two. The benefits to students are less transitions and longer periods for Math and Reading. 65% of Sterling’s Grade 5 students participate in extracurricular activities. At Point Webster, 59% of Grade 5 students participate in extracurricular activities. Grade 5 students at Point Webster follow the traditional middle school model and students have five core teachers.

Mr. McCarthy thanked all the presenters, noting that the information shared showed the parallels between the programs.

Mrs. Mahoney asked for clarification on when Grade 5 transitioned to the middle schools. Point Webster was in 2000 and Sterling was in 2008. For both schools, enrollment and building capacity at the elementary level was the impetus.

Mrs. Mahoney asked about Special Education programs at Clifford Marshall; one program moved several years ago to open classroom space. She acknowledged the challenges that other communities are facing although often their populations are much smaller. Mrs. Mahoney requested a recap of the decisions made through the years that ended in the grade level being transferred.

Mrs. Mahoney asked for details about the scheduling change at Sterling. During the first week of school, adjustment was made to focus time on learning differently. Mrs. Mahoney agreed that we do a good job of evaluating the needs of students and making adjustments. Mrs. Mahoney asked Ms. Barrett if this is something that would be considered for future at Point Webster. Dr. DeCristofaro said that Sterling’s pilot will be monitored, plus there are school surveys planned to ask for parent thoughts on the subject before making a decision for Point Webster next year.

Dr. DeCristofaro also spoke about recess and while there is free time as part of the student lunch break, recess is not scheduled at other times of the day at any level. Transportation is provided for Grade 5 students at Point Webster and Sterling. Dr. DeCristofaro said that there is a performance gap to be addressed for these two schools; School Improvement Plan presentations will share their goals and action steps for narrowing these gaps.

Mr. Bregoli asked for clarification that Grades 4-5 students do not receive Title I services at any school. Mrs. Perkins said during the school day, the emphasis is on services for Pre-K-3 students. There are afterschool and summer programs funded through Title I that are available for students through Grade 5.

Mrs. Mahoney said that some of these differences have not been apparent to the public, specifically the different grading structure. Title I funding dispension is discretionary and that can change and School Committee's role is to monitor this. Dr. DeCristofaro reminded School Committee that in 2002, Title I was reduced by a significant amount ($466,000) that caused the refocus on Pre-K through 3 interventions. Mrs. Mahoney said that the differences are on both sides, perhaps there are parents who would like their Grade 5 students to have a middle school schedule or no half-day Tuesdays. Mr. McCarthy said that all of the items presented are important information and agreed there may be items that can be implemented in the elementary Grade 5 setting. Mr. McCarthy said there are a lot of positives here. Mrs. Mahoney asked if we know whether students leave Quincy Public Schools at Grade 5 rather than go to the middle school. Mr. McCarthy said that this is an issue for all schools, students leave at these transitional grades. Dr. DeCristofaro said we do have statistics on retention. Mrs. Mahoney said students who have left Lincoln Hancock at earlier grades should be tracked as well.

Mr. McCarthy then invited parents to speak at Open Forum.

Alexis Veith thanked the School Committee for having formed the Subcommittee and addressing the parent concerns. She was glad to hear about the Sterling scheduling pilot, would like to see this implemented at Point Webster. Mrs. Veith would like to see Sterling and Point Webster participate in parallel early release schedule or move other elementary school Grade 5 students to the same schedule. The advantages of middle school curriculum should be shared with Grade 5 students at all schools. Mrs. Veith asked for student success data for students from other middle schools as a comparative. Mrs. Veith said that for Open Enrollment, parents will try to move students at a younger age and may choose other options rather than pursue Open Enrollment at Grade 5.

Courtney Perdios agreed with Mrs. Veith, feels that Open Enrollment must be granted if parents request it. She thanked everyone for generating the presentation and the work to gather the data. If this is an advantage for Grade 5 students, then it should be offered to all Grade 5 students. Mrs. Perdios asked Dr. Franceschini whether there were continuing to be issues with transition. Dr. DeCristofaro said there transitions at any age are stressful for some students, even between middle and high school. Mrs. Perdios noted that she doesn't want to appear disrespectful and is appreciative of the work that is done at both schools.

Ms. Isola apologized for being late and said she would get caught up on the presentation. Mr. McCarthy thanked the parents and the presenters and looks forward to working with the Superintendent on these issues.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:15 pm. Mr. Bregoli seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.