9-13-13 First Friday Letter

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are into the second week of school, and I have been most impressed by how quickly our 746 students have settled into the daily routines of middle school, focused on learning. As I visit classes, I am delighted and inspired by the hard work and efforts of both students and teachers engaged in exciting and meaningful learning experiences.

I would like to acknowledge and thank our PTO presidents Theresa Fitzpatrick and Molly Owen-Kristy; along with the sixth grade teachers for creating a warm welcome to our sixth grade students on Thursday, August 29.

Please plan to join us for “Brown Back-to-School Night” on Wednesday, September 25, from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. We look forward to sharing with you the many and varied opportunities that your child(ren) experience here at school. On Tuesday, your child will bring home a copy of his/her schedule for you to follow on Wednesday evening. Our Back-to-School Night will begin at 6:30 p.m. We invite all parents to join us in the cafeteria for welcoming remarks, an opportunity to meet new friends, and an overview of the evening. At 7:00 p.m., parents should report to their child’s first-period class. As the evening progresses, parents will be able to visit each of their child’s classes. Teachers will share with you their goals, information on their program, and an overview of the curriculum. It is our hope that all parents will attend this important evening event and become better acquainted with the teachers and programs here at Brown Middle School. Please note that the schedule for the evening does not provide time to discuss the progress of individual students.

All parents are invited to visit Brown Middle School in session on the following mornings between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m.:
Tues., October 1 (grade 7);
Wed., October 2 (grade 6); or
Fri., October 4 (grade 8)
Please note that you are welcome to visit on any of the three dates. We have identified grade levels in parenthesis for mornings that students are in their “team” classes. It is strongly suggested that you check with your child about their schedule for the day you intend to visit. We hope you will be able to join us.

It has been another busy summer at Brown. There have been several summer programs for students as well as basketball camps held at Brown during July and early August. Our custodians did a fantastic job, working hard to complete summer cleaning, classroom moves and getting the building looking good for opening day. We also have several improvement projects in progress. Over the past several weeks, contractors have been working to install 996 solar panels up on the roof of our school. As we approach the completion of this major project, we hope to share more specifics about the benefits of solar energy. Additionally, we are very excited to have twenty-six new iMac computers in one of our computer multimedia labs. We will also be receiving four mobile computer carts with twenty-five laptop computers for students and teachers to work on research and multimedia learning experiences and projects. In addition, work has also been completed on installing the front entry buzzer security system. The buzzer system will be in operation from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All visitors need to use the “buzzer” located to the left of the main entrance area. Visitors will be asked for their name and the purpose of their business. Visitors will then be directed to report to the main office to sign in and receive a visitor’s badge. Visitors are expected return to the office before leaving the building to sign out and return their visitor’s badge. Thank you for your cooperation and support with the implementation of this new system.

2013 MCAS Results: Later this month, you will be receiving individual student results from spring 2013 MCAS testing. In mid-August, we received the preliminary results of the 2013 MCAS testing and began data analysis. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has posted the MCAS – Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System: Release of Spring 2013 Test Items on their website, www.doe.mass.edu.

Included in the Release of Spring 2013 Test Items is a scoring guide to open-response questions, and for each guide, a sample of student work at each score point. Taken together, the questions, scoring guides, and sample student work provide a picture of the expectations for student performance on the MCAS tests. There is also information on school and district MCAS results from previous years. Over the next several weeks, we will continue to further analyze the various data on student performance. In particular, we are committed to giving all students’ access to a rigorous curriculum and exposure to all of the topics included on the MCAS tests.

The MCAS Parent Reports will include growth model data. This is the third year this information has been provided, and I recommend the online tutorial geared specifically to address frequently asked questions. The tutorial is in PowerPoint format with audio, but requires no special software to use. The tutorial “Understanding Growth on the MCAS Parent Report” is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/growth/tutorial2.html.

John F. Jordan