SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 12, 2013

Column: AP initiative will expand to middle school students

The Salem Public Schools’ accelerated improvement plan describes what the district wants students to know and be able to do, how they will ensure that students are learning and that teachers have the necessary skills and tools, and who will be responsible for ensuring long-term success. The work underway emphasizes high-quality instruction aligned with the Massachusetts Common Core standards; ongoing assessments to inform instruction in a more timely way; a tiered system for providing academic and social supports; and a focus on supporting staff through professional development, expanded planning time and new educator evaluation methods.

In partnership with the schools, Mass Insight Education will be expanding its Math + Science Initiative to middle school students. To date, this program has helped Salem High School realize a dramatic increase of 113 percent in enrollment in Advanced Placement classes and a 200 percent increase in scores that qualify for college credit. Along with preparing all students from all backgrounds at earlier grades for participation in AP courses, this program offers additional benefits, including:

Training for English language arts and math teachers in grades six through 12 in how to implement pre-Advanced Placement in their teaching. This training aligns with many goals in the schools’ improvement plan, including improving performance for students and providing high-quality professional development.

Vertical planning of a Common Core-aligned curriculum, ensuring that teachers in sixth grade know what students need to know and be able to do in order to succeed in the upper grades.

Assessments embedded into lessons, allowing teachers to evaluate rapidly whether individual students have mastered the subject at hand.

Classroom activities that are carefully sequenced, ensuring that students have access to their highest level of achievement within each lesson.

Ongoing professional development programs that are integrated into the new teacher evaluation system, ensuring alignment with teaching expectations.

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