Town Crier

WILMINGTON — For the School Committee meeting last Wednesday night, Wil­mington High School Prin­cipal Linda Peters, along with several curriculum team leaders, presented on the WHS program review.

Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand started by connecting the presentation to the superintendent goal for the program review. He ex­plained that this would be a first glimpse at the work that the staff did so far, with recommendations for changes to come in Janu­ary.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Staff De­velopment Christine Elli­ott mentioned that the da­ta they prepared came from researching 30 nearby communities and their program of studies, enrollment, and graduation re­quirements.

Peters began by stating the changes made in the district between fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2022, including reductions in the number of teachers for Eng­lish, math, physical education, business, and world language. Then, they broke the results down by subject.

For English, all the other communities researched held a 4-year graduation requirement.

In math, Mary Beth Val­uk said that there was a comparable leveling of classes among the schools. She noted that most districts offered courses like Com­puter Programming and Computer Science, which Wilmington doesn’t. She also presented the MCAS standards that were re­quired for graduation.

School Committee member Melissa Plowman wondered why the MCAS re­quirement increased.

David Ragsdale responded to say that the new MCAS scores are measured on a different scale. The change was made in order to allow extended time for the newer grades to meet the equivalent efficiency standard on the former scale.

M. J. Byrnes asked about the levels of Algebra 1 of­fer­ed. For example, Valuk shared that the Shawsheen Tech has four or five different levels of Algebra 1. In their discussions, she said they talked about want­ing students who struggle not to be separated out while keeping it challenging for everyone.

Peters took over for science and reported that WPS’ science path is more complicated than those of the other communities. Some include two years of biology, while others re­quire all freshmen to take biology or physical science (not one or the other).

Byrnes asked what Pet­ers would like to see ex­panded in this subject. Peters replied that they’d like to see some new cour­ses added.

Mark Staffier spoke on social studies. He highlighted WPS’ global ap­proach with U.S. and World History.

“The idea is that history continues,” he said. “We take the overlap and look at it from a global perspective.”

He presented this as a unique pro, not something to be changed.

For world languages, Pet­ers described how most districts offer four or more languages in level 1-5, which Wilmington doesn’t match. However, she said that their enrollment numbers in language classes are comparable. She referenced the percentage of students who take two years of world language: 95 percent of 9th graders and 86 percent of 10th graders.

Philips presented on bu­siness and family and consumer science. For business, he mentioned that other schools are focusing on career and technical pathways. In total, he said that Wilmington receives 75 sections’ worth of re­quests for these two de­partments but only get to fill 40.

Peters mentioned some creative offerings in other towns for visual arts, like Art as Therapy in Biller­ica and Art Ideas in An­dover. Other differences she shared were that most districts had AP 2D and 3D Design courses.

“The more that we can try to expand upon course offerings within our ability to make [students] di­verse and keep up with technology, the better,” commented Byrnes.

Anita DiLullo highlighted Performing Arts, where other schools only met Wilmington’s offerings in performance-based electives 50 percent of the time. She recommended re­stating the fine/performing arts requirement for graduation.

“All Massachusetts students will develop artistic literacy through active par­ticipation in the arts,” she said.

However, she mentioned that performing arts staff are very limited and split between schools.

Physical education lead­er Laura Stinson shared that other communities hold offerings like yoga, sports, skating, and swimming as P. E. courses. They were split on having 2- and 4-year graduation requirements for health. One thing that she wants to see continue is allowing 10th grade students to complete the CPR certification in school.

Plowman asked to what extent these course offerings consider mental health, and Stinson replied that teachers made a point to add stress reduction techniques and other so­cial-emotional health considerations over the past two years. Peters mentioned that last year’s re­mote P. E. teacher focused on mindfulness throughout the year.

Lastly, Peters said that the counselors looked close­ly at GPA weighting between different course levels. While Wilmington only gives another .6 points for an AP class, some give an entire point.

“The thinking is that the greater point difference will make students more willing to take on that coursework,” she continued.

Another matter she not­ed was that a few districts eliminated class rank, considering that colleges don’t look at rank after the top 10.

Elliott ended the presentation by thanking all of the curriculum team leaders, liaisons, and department heads who put this information together. She said they had made great points about other districts and celebrated the good things Wilmington is already doing.

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