Achieving Excellence in the Walpole Public Schools
Walpole Public Schools provides a rigorous and engaging curriculum. Since the passage of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act in 1993, Walpole faculty have worked to align the curriculum with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, ensuring that all students are challenged as well as prepared to meet the demands of the Massachusetts Curriculum Assessment System (MCAS). In addition to aligning Walpole’s curriculum with the state standards, teachers have developed curriculum guides specific to each discipline and have developed corresponding assessments that measure student learning.
The process of curriculum development, revision and enrichment is ongoing, and our teachers continue to be central to these critical efforts. As part of a five-year review cycle, each discipline area undergoes a regular major examination using a Task Force model consisting of teachers and administrators. Through their research, expertise, collection and review of data, Task Force members lay the groundwork to produce or revise the curriculum document that identifies essential concepts, strategies and assessments for each area. A broad representation of teachers at all levels serve on the Task Force to ensure appropriate sequence and to minimize repetition. The Task Force also identifies professional development that is needed to support the implementation of new curricula and programming after it has been approved by the School Committee and adopted. During the school year 2010-2011, curriculum task forces have revised curricula and developed models for Standards Based Report Cards at the elementary level. The English Language Arts curriculum was supported by the implementation of the Scott ForesmanReading Street literacy program in grades Kindergarten through three with a pilot in grade four at each school. During the school year 2011-2012, the Scott Foresman Reading Street literacy program will be implemented in grade four, task forces will review and revise Mathematics curricula, and teachers will incorporate the new ELA Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and Common Core recommendations.
Curriculum clusters organized by disciplines meet monthly with the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Grants. Based on their knowledge, observations and regular review of data and best practices, these teams of teachers, Grades 6 – 12 Department Chairpersons, middle school liaisons, and elementary administrators make recommendations to improve curriculum, instruction and assessment in each area. Professional development opportunities are planned to meet identified needs as well.
A technology steering committee continues to address the system’s technology goals facilitated by the Director of Technology Integration. With representation from administration, faculty, parents and community, under the guidance of the PreK-12 Director of Instructional Technology, the steering committee designs and implements the five-year technology plan which is approved by the School Committee and submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This plan identifies the system’s goals in the areas of Administration and Management, Communications and Information Access, Instructional/Curricular Technology Integration and Professional Development. This year, a major goal of the plan continues to integrate technology into the curriculum. The Walpole Computer Foundation has significantly enhanced our ability to utilize technology at every level from preschool through high school through their generous funding of technology acquisitions and relevant professional development. Additional training in various technological applications will be offered as funding permits.
Walpole Public Schools values the contributions of its staff and recognizes that professional development is an integral component of high quality curriculum, instruction and assessment. The school system is committed to sustaining professional learning communities (PLC) of educators that allow them to develop and enhance their skills while addressing school and district goals. These goals, as stated in the District Improvement Plan and School Improvement plans are closely aligned and reflect the vision and mission of the district.
In addition to participation on curriculum task forces and clusters, a variety of opportunities for professional development are offered on a system, school and individual level. Sustained, reflective, content-based professional growth opportunities are available to Walpole staff, with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement.
The district's major focus is on Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Response to Intervention to ensure that all students are supported to achieve excellence. In addition, the district will provide comprehensive anti-bullying training that enables a safe and secure environment in which to learn. The two system-wide professional development days (August 30 and March 6, 2012) will provide opportunities for teachers to learn and principles from these initiatives to all instructional areas.
Implementation of revised Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts curricula will be supported by professional development. Training to meet the goals of the online learning initiatives through NovaNET, Write to Learn, Study Island and Discovery Education will be offered as well. Early release days, and monthly curriculum, department and school-based faculty meetings will address a number of topics aligned with district and school goals, such as student transition and placement, curriculum issues by grade level, technology for administrative management, inclusion and other special education efforts, high school NEASC recommendations, School Improvement Plans and crisis intervention.
Tuition reimbursement for approved graduate level courses continues to be offered, although reimbursement will extend to 2012, and faculty are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity as well as the many other offerings that contribute to personal and professional growth.
Through this collaborative systems approach to curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development, the Walpole Public Schools believes that it can achieve its fundamental goal of ensuring that all of its students achieve excellence.
Jean E. Kenney, Ed.D.