Andover Public Schools will focus on writing instruction and implement targeted strategies and support for students who struggle in MCAS tests, district officials told the Andover School Committee Thursday.

While Andover exceeded state averages in participation and in the percentage of students exceeding or meeting expectations across all grade levels and in all subject areas, the results released last month by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Improvement sounded an alarm on pandemic-related “lost learning” across Massachusetts

“One of the things we’re looking at is district-wide writing,” Assistant Superintendent Julie Riley said. “How are we offering writing, how are we assessing writing, what does writing look like over time…Our MCAS data did show evidence we need to take a deeper dive into writing across content areas.”

Andover’s scores remained well above state averages, with 65 percent of students in grades three through eight scoring meeting or exceeding expectations in English, 64 percent in math and 68 percent in science. But those scores are all lower than the scores in the last pre-pandemic exam in 2019, when 71 percent of APS students in grades 3-8 were meeting or exceeding expectations in English, 67 percent in Math and 74 percent in science.

While students with disabilities, low-income students and Hispanic/Latino students — three subgroups that have traditionally struggled in standardized tests — generally did better than state averages, they lagged behind other APS students. Shereen Rancourt, APS’s executive director of secondary instructional operations, said the district will focus on targeted interventions and support for students in those groups.

“We want to make sure we’re not leaving anyone behind,” Rancourt said. “We want to take a closer look at this and make sure every student is getting what they need.”

Jason DiCarlo, executive director for elementary instructional operations, for APS said some of those changes are already underway, including the school improvement plans discussed at the school committee’s last meeting and curriculum changes, like the implementation of Eureka Math2, the district’s new elementary school math curriculum.

Andover Public Schools MCAS Results By Year

GRADE 03 – MATHEMATICS55/4156/3367/49
GRADE 04 – MATHEMATICS67/4253/3372/50
GRADE 05 – MATHEMATICS62/3660/3372/48
GRADE 05 – SCIENCE AND TECH/ENG65/4368/4278/49
GRADE 06 – MATHEMATICS70/4263/3364/52
GRADE 07 – MATHEMATICS67/3755/3564/48
GRADE 08 – MATHEMATICS66/3657/3264/46
GRADE 08 – SCIENCE AND TECH/ENG72/4258/4171/46
GRADE 10 – MATHEMATICS70/5074/5281/59
GRADES 03 – 08 – ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS65/4165/4671/52
GRADES 03 – 08 – MATHEMATICS64/3957/3367/49
GRADES 05 & 08 – SCIENCE AND TECH/ENG68/4263/4274/48
The table above shows the percentage of Andover Public Schools students meeting or exceeding expectations for each MCAS exam. The second number in each column is the percentage of all Massachusetts students meeting or exceeding expectations. Click on the year for the complete breakdown of that year’s scores for Andover students.

2023-24 School Calendar

The committee also approved the calendar for the 2023-24 school year. Key dates include:

First day, teachersAug. 28
First day, grades 1-12Aug. 30
Labor Day recess, no schoolSept. 1
Labor Day, no schoolSept. 4
First day, kindergarten and preschoolSept. 5
No school, fall recessOct. 9
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)Oct. 20
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)Nov. 22
No school, Thanksgiving recessNov. 23-24
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)Dec. 8
No school, holiday recessDec. 25-Jan. 1
No school, Martin Luther Kind DayJan. 15
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)Jan. 26
No school, winter recessFeb. 19-23
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)March 8
No school, spring recessApril 15-19
Early Release Day (11:30 middle, high school, 12:15 elementary)May 3
No school, Memorial DayMay 27
Last day of school with no snow daysJune 10
Last day of school with 5 snow daysJune 17

The complete calendar is on page 54 of the meeting packet (below).

In Other Business

The school committee will hold a public meeting before a previously-scheduled executive session at 5 p.m. Tuesday to make recommendations on the two articles on the warrant for the Dec. 1 special town meeting. The meeting was called to address budget overruns at the West Elementary School and Shawsheen Preschool construction project.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting:

  • approved $3.1 million for school improvement projects and maintenance. Among the biggest items is $600,000 to install a turf field at Bancroft Elementary School (above). A complete list of how the money will be spent is included in the agenda and meeting packet (below).
  • approved a contract for $63,800 with Boston-based Guidepost Solutions LLC to conduct a comprehensive security assessment of all district schools. The approval included a comprehensive overview of the current safety protocols in place by Andover police detective Mark Higginbottom beginning at 1:20:30 in the meeting video (below).
  • reviewed and approved a fee structure for online payment processing services for fees collected by the district, including ticket purchases to sporting events and school events.
  • accepted Superintendent Magda Parvey’s goals for the current school year, which were discussed in a first reading at the Oct. 6 meeting.
  • update the district’s policies for community use of facilities to reflect the new West Elementary School and Shawsheen Preschool construction. Those policies were also reviewed in a first reading on Oct. 6.

Video of Oct. 20 School Committee Meeting from Andover TV

Agenda for Oct. 20 Andover School Committee meeting

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