PEABODY — School Committeeman Dave McGeney is cheering the news this week that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has asked states and school districts to delay adopting a new, national testing program.
The two-year delay would allow teachers and students more time to transition smoothly to the new test, known as PARCC, for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Grants from the Gates Foundation helped to fund much of the test development.
McGeney says it’s a victory for critics — like himself — of the testing program and reflects a pushback in recent months by parents and officials in various states. He said momentum is moving against the so-called Common Core standards, a set of nationwide standards for student learning that the exams are meant to assess. Peabody has voted to opt out of the exam next year — it piloted some testing this year.
“PARCC is not inevitable; if anything, it is waning,” McGeney told fellow school board members Tuesday night, adding that even its supporters at the Gates Foundation “know it’s time to hit the pause button.”
Seizing a second chance
Six of the 432 Peabody High grads who marched across Coley Lee Field a couple of weeks ago might not have made it if not for an alternative night school program. Abigail Anderson, Joshua Cortes, Nico DiPrimo, Sadee Grace, Brandon Lampron and Travis Stokes were given special recognition and a gift before Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.
Peabody High attendance officer Neil Hagstrom, who supervises the program, praised all six as “great kids,” but singled out Lampron as a true “poster child for the program.” He made up 20 courses for 100 credits in the past 21/2 years, missing only four days of school, and now has a bright future ahead of him.
Lampron started high school in 2009, “didn’t take his education seriously” and skipped classes. His life “got off track” and he became depressed. But one day he picked up the phone at home and was greeted by a deep voice: “Brandon, it’s Mr. Hagstrom.” As they talked, Hagstrom told him he had a second chance to get a high school diploma if he enrolled in the night school program at Peabody High.