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Gov. Patrick visits Braintree schools for MCAS recognition

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 25, 2011 12:53 PM

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Governor Patrick answers a math question from 6th Grade Language-based Math teacher Kristen Walsh.

Governor Deval Patrick paid a visit to Braintree’s East Middle School Tuesday to congratulate students and staff on MCAS success, after the school was named one of 127 “Commendation Schools” by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The commendation recognizes schools around the state basis that have narrowed the achievement gap in MCAS scoring, something the Middle School, along with Flaherty Elementary School and Liberty Elementary, were all able to do this year.

Specifically in East, there were increases in the levels of students reaching proficient and higher on the Grade 8 MCAS in English Language Arts, Math, and Science.

While visiting with three classrooms and talking with Braintree school and town officials, the governor congratulated the principal, faculty, mayor, and the kids, “who have been leaning forward,” he said.

“We show a commitment to bringing children to proficiency,” Patrick said.

Yet despite being a top scorer in the Race to the Top program, “there are persistent achievement gaps…[we need] to show further leadership in how we step up our game.”

According to Patrick, the current system still has its flaws, and specific aspects of the program, such as Annual Yearly Progress, need to be set aside for new standards.

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Patrick tours the school with Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan.

“We have to be trying new things,” he said.

It’s exactly what Braintree is doing, Principal John Sheehan said.

The school is focused on identifying students with needs and intervening, such as students new to the school system who come in with learning gaps are given special attention to bring them up to the current level. Students struggling with math are put in math connection courses.

“We’re identifying needs and applying resources. Kids know we expect them to achieve at high levels,” Sheehan said.

East Middle School has also stayed focused on aligning its curriculum with state standards, delivering excellent instruction on a daily basis, and continuing to push students to achieve at high levels.

“We’re continuing to trend upward,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said that East’s success had brought “recognition to students across the district.”

The success of the schools resulted partly from the town’s commitment to education, but more from the teachers and school staff, Kurzberg said.

“While the staff has always worked hard, they’ve focused on the right things, things that are critical to the success of the students,” he said.

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