Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, September 21, 2023

New Leaders Introduction
New school leaders in Arlington, including principals and cabinet team members, introduced themselves.

Accountability System Overview
Matt Coleman, the director of research, data, and accountability, presented an overview of the accountability system, focusing on changes, modifications, and pathways for progress. The committee discussed different indicators used to measure progress, including achievement, student growth, high school completion, English learner proficiency, and additional indicators. The district achieved 89% of the state benchmarks, placing it in the meeting or exceeding category. The committee highlighted the performance of individual schools, with Ottoson Middle School ranking in the top 10-12 in the state. Areas for improvement include chronic absenteeism and advanced coursework.

Strategic Planning and Data Analysis
The committee discussed the importance of aligning their work with the strategic plan based on collected data. They emphasized the importance of consistent data reporting in school improvement plans. The committee noted that the data collection system tends to favor smaller, less diverse schools, making it challenging for larger schools like Ottoson to perform well.

Wellness Department Report
Health, wellness and physical education director Kim Visco presented the work of the Wellness Department over the past year, including the development of a department vision and student objectives. The department focused on providing an equitable learning experience, promoting health and wellness, and improving overall student wellness. The department also worked on aligning standards with the Massachusetts health frameworks. At the elementary level, fitness testing was removed and the focus shifted to teaching about health-related components of fitness and individual growth. At the middle and high school levels, the focus also shifted from fitness testing to measuring growth and goal setting. New electives were added at the high school level.

Inclusion of LGBTQ Topics in Curriculum
The committee discussed the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in the school curriculum, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity for all students. Changes made to the curriculum in the previous year to align with the Arlington Public School’s vision and the National Sex Ed Standards for grades four and five were discussed. The committee approved the curriculum unanimously.

Future Plans
The committee discussed the need for a policy on nutrition and wellness, and approved a job description for an administrative assistant. It also discussed the need for a meeting to discuss the budget and the implementation of a new literacy curriculum. The Wellness Department plans to incorporate academic conversations into classes, align with the district’s strategic plan, use inclusive language throughout the curriculum, and research a new health curriculum with a focus on skill-based learning, inclusivity, and social-emotional learning.



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