School Committee Honors Student Achievement

Recognition of Class of 2024 National Merit Scholars

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Reading, MA — This past Thursday, the School Committee opened its meeting by recognizing and honoring several students for academic achievement. Reading Memorial High School students Ruby Allen, Caylyn Heroux, Brendan Hoffman, Maureen Manning, Vedant Narayan, William O’Connor, Lily Powell, and Hannah Wiggins were recognized as National Merit Commended students while Yiyang Xiao was honored as a National Merit Semifinalist. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Milaschewski shared that the awards are presented to students with the most competitive PSAT scores across the country. Interim RMHS principal Jessica Callanan added that the scores these students achieved were among the top 50,000 of the 1.5 million who took the test. Each student, except for Xiao, was presented a certificate noting their achievement. Xiao is still in the nationwide competition and will receive a certificate issued by the College Board at a future date.

Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
Certificate of Academic Excellence

The committee also recognized Isabella Ring and Mark Malley as recipients of the 2023 Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents’ Certificate of Academic Excellence. Milaschewski explained in a memo that this annual award honors seniors across the state who have demonstrated distinguished academic performance and personal contributions to their high school communities. 

In speaking to all the honorees, Milaschewski stated, “You are students who model and embody what it means to be true academic scholars in our community.” School Committee chair Thomas Wise added, “We are exceedingly proud of all of the students we recognized this evening, you are all exceptional.”

ARC Implementation

After certificates were awarded, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Sarah Hardy shared an update on the implementation of the ARC core literacy program. Grades kindergarten through two are in the launch phase of implementation, while grades three through five are in the implement and monitor phase. Hardy noted that since grades three through five had launched the program last year, this year, the kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers have benefited from their experience.

Goals for implementation include targeted professional development with coaches, communication of the changes to the community, ongoing monitoring of students and teachers, and responsive adjustment. Hardy indicated that the change from one literacy program to another is complex for the teachers as they get used to the new materials. She also praised the implementation team for its continued work, looking at feedback throughout the year. Hardy shared that one first grade team of teachers appreciated that “ARC core has everything you need all in one place.”

Monitoring of the implementation in the first year includes a review of student work, classroom walkthroughs and observations, examination of teacher use of the materials, and pacing. In years two and three, student growth and achievement are reviewed along indicators such as Individual Education Plan referrals and testing results along with continued teacher feedback.

Hardy also highlighted the coaching provided by ARC Core. Each school will receive ten coaching visits in the first year of launching the program. Some of these visits are virtual, and some are in-person. Coaches meet one-on-one with teachers, provide group session work, and provide model lessons. Hardy continued to share that the professional development provided by the coaching is key to the success of the launch.

Hardy indicated that early observations show that there have been strong student routines and structures established in classrooms, with kindergarten through grade two teachers having “jumped in” in implementing the program. Observations also indicate that teachers in grades three through five are building an even more robust implementation in their second year of use.

Hardy will provide an update to the committee in December, followed by another in February.

FY23 End-of-Year Financial Update

Director of Finance Derek Pinto provided the committee with the end-of-year financial update indicating that the school department had ended the year having met all its obligations. He also shared that the department had returned $102,002 to the town’s free cash reserves, which is 0.2% of the total budget. Pinto also reported that $175,000 had been transferred into the new Special Education reserve fund.

The School Committee voted 5-0 to approve three end-of-year transfers. Two hundred four thousand two hundred and ninety-nine dollars were transferred out of the Regular Day cost center, $187,272 to Special Education, $14,900 to Administration, and $3,900 to Athletics.

The School Committee adjourned to executive session at 8:30 p.m. to discuss collective bargaining negotiation strategies.

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