Blizzard Bag Survey for Parents/Guardians of Burlington students

We are asking parents of Burlington school children who were in grades 1-11 this past year to take a few minutes to provide feedback on our Blizzard Bag pilot which concluded June 1. Please complete the survey linked here to help us gather information for a discussion in the fall as to whether or not we will look to provide alternative assignments for snow days in the future. We will make a phone call to all families next week to make them aware of the survey and also post a student survey.

STAR AWARD

burlingtonps:

The deadline for this great initiative from the Burlington Education Foundation to highlight the amazing efforts of a teacher, staff member or student is this Tuesday. Please consider nominating someone for a Star Award. The details are below…

Originally posted on burlingtonedfoundation:

Here’s a creative way to thank special teachers, faculty, or students for their hard work!

As another school year ends and you’re thinking about a special thank you for your child’s teachers, try a unique approach!

The Burlington Education Foundation (BEF) provides a special Thank You! to recognize teachers, faculty, and staff who made the year special or went that extra mile. The STARaward program delivers a personalized certificate to the recipient and acknowledgement of the award to the principal and on our website. STARawards can also be used to thank other community members who have made a difference, as well as acknowledge students for their hard work.

Forms are available online at http://www.burlingtonedfoundation.org/starawards/. Entries must be completed by June 16th for delivery before the end of the school year. For every entry submitted, your donation of $20 helps to support the BEF’s mission in making the Burlington schools…

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BHS Student Artwork Featured In Washington Post and Huffington Post

BHS Art Teacher Christina Chang published a blog post earlier in the week showing some artwork that her students created which depicted their feelings surrounding standardized testing. Today the work of the students was published online by both the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.  The titles of the two posts are below along with the student artwork.

High School Students Create Haunting Artwork About Standardized Tests – Huffington Post

Nine dramatic works of art by students about standardized testing – Washington Post

Josephine Samarjian

Josephine Samarjian

Alyssa Healey

Alyssa Healey

Jill Sullivan

Jill Sullivan

Sarah Iodice

Sarah Iodice

Laura Schissler

Laura Schissler

Rachel Carlino and Emily Moreira

Rachel Carlino and Emily Moreira

Maddie Worob

Maddie Worob

Lindsay Conley

Lindsay Conley

Samantha Lynch

Samantha Lynch

Clarifying NEASC Accreditation Concerns in Burlington

Due to some questions at our May 26th School Committee Meeting surrounding our high school’s current accreditation status with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), we thought it was important to provide an update regarding Burlington High School’s current status.  Following a discussion at our September 25, 2012 School Committee Meeting and a follow-up meeting with NEASC officials, it was decided that Burlington High School would suspend its membership in NEASC.

What is NEASC?

NEASC is a private organization that is funded by school districts across New England.  It has been in operation since 1885.  The accreditation process is voluntary and occurs in 10-year cycles.  The NEASC process is not connected to the state Board of Education or a high school’s authority to grant diplomas.

Why Suspend Our Membership?

The decision came about due to the fact that Burlington High School was due to begin the self-study process for the NEASC Decennial Visit. The work involved in preparing for the self-study visit would have impeded the school’s ability to implement a number of the new mandates put in place by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (i.e. New Evaluation System for Teachers, ELL Training for staff, Common Core and PARCC testing).  In addition, the Decennial Accreditation Visit brings with it a cost of $25,000-$30,000.

A number of other local high schools including Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Brookline, Lexington, Lincoln-Sudbury, Newton, Reading, Weston, and Winchester have publicly voiced similar concerns.  Reading Superintendent of Schools John Doherty was quoted in the Daily Times Chronicle back in March 2013 citing concerns about both the expense and the time commitment involved in the NEASC process.  These same decisions have been made by some high schools in Maine.

Moreover, the NEASC organization and process originated well before the Ed Reform movement of the early 1990’s with the intent of establishing some standards of practice across schools.  Since that time, school districts have to comply with a prescribed state curriculum and test thresholds.  In addition, the College Board now requires us to certify our Advanced Placement teachers and courses, the NCAA certifies that our courses meet their threshold if our students are to compete in Division 1 or 2 athletics, and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts comprehensive program reviews every 6 years to ensure that we are in compliance with federal regulations.  The state also annually rates schools and school districts.  Burlington High School has achieved their highest rating – Level 1.

In short, in the last 20 years there have been many mandated standards that schools/districts have had to meet.  In addition to these mandated standards, we have been working with NEASC as a member to better align their standards and accreditation process with our mandated standards and accreditation processes.  Our hope is to continue with the voluntary NEASC process, which has typically been on a ten-year cycle, when it is updated.

Our Concerns:

Our first concern when we considered changing our status with NEASC was the impact on students and whether this decision would affect their ability to attend the college or university of their choice.  We have not seen a negative impact in the three years since this decision was made. In addition, our high school has received feedback from college admissions representatives that our students will not be negatively impacted if our high school continues to have a strong school profile.  We continue to do our diligence to ensure that our students will be able to pursue any post secondary option that they wish. This year’s senior class seems to support this with acceptances to Dartmouth, Columbia, Northwestern (7-year medical program), Wellesley, University of  Michigan, Ithaca, UNC Wilmington, Cornell, Boston University, University of New Hampshire, WPI, Bentley, UMASS Amherst, Purdue, Holy Cross, and many more reputable institutions.

One specific concern that was brought up at the school committee meeting was a concern regarding Boston College.  With the help of a local reporter we were able to contact John Mahoney, the Director of Admissions at Boston College, and ask for his comments on NEASC.  He stated the following:

  • “This issue would in no way ever be considered a disadvantage for any student applying to Boston College.”
  • “Even in cases where a school has “fallen out” of accreditation it would never be held against a student and that is not the case with Burlington…as they have chosen to suspend.”
  • “We will always make our admissions decisions on a case by case basis taking each student into consideration individually.”

Our Communication:

There were also concerns expressed at the school committee meeting that the conversations regarding NEASC were not conducted publicly.  The minutes from the school committee meeting from September 25, 2012 reflect that NEASC was discussed in open session.  Our point in referring to the minutes is to address the claim that there was no public discussion.  We are not stating that the amount of public discussion was adequate.  Clearly, if there were middle school parents not focusing on the high school, these conversations could have been missed and, in hindsight, should have been repeated – especially given the amount of misinformation we are correcting.

In closing, Burlington Public Schools made a conscious decision to suspend our membership in NEASC.  While suspending our membership, we choose not to participate in a public campaign to negate the work of NEASC and the many thoughtful educators who give their free time to serve on the Commission for Public Secondary Schools. We instead chose to correspond with Director Janet Allison in September of 2012 and then subsequently meet with her in December 2012 regarding our decision to suspend our membership and participation in our scheduled 10-year self-study. Our relationship with NEASC continues in that we are supportive in their work to modify their accreditation process.  After these changes occur, we plan to resume our membership (pay our dues) and pursue the updated, voluntary, peer accreditation process.  During this hiatus, Burlington High School continues to be an innovative, high performing, well respected institution that is sending our graduates to the top schools in the country.

11th annual “Exercise for Education” 5K Road Race and 1/2 Mile Family Fun Run-May 31, 2015

burlingtonps:

This is a great event for families and community members to support the Burlington Education Foundation and all of the wonderful resources they help bring to Burlington classrooms!

Originally posted on burlingtonedfoundation:

The Burlington Education Foundation (BEF) will be holding their 11th Annual “Exercise for Education” 5K Road Race and ½ Mile Family Fun Run at Burlington High School on Sunday May 31, 2015.  Check-in for the event begins at 8:00am with the Family Fun Run beginning at 9:00am, followed by the start of the 5k which begins promptly at 9:30am.

Please visit BEF’s website (http://www.burlingtonedfoundation.org/5k-road-race-fun-run/) for more information on the activities as well as online registration. All pre-registered participants are guaranteed a free t-shirt. NEW This Year – Chip Timing! – with instant results.  Don’t miss out on this great community event.

BEF’s Mission is to channel donations from businesses and individuals to provide Burlington educators with an additional source of funding for creative and innovative curriculum enrichment programs.  Help us make a difference in the Burlington Public Schools!

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Spotlight On Excellence For Some Thoughtful Fifth Graders and Their Teachers

At last night’s School Committee Meeting, we had the pleasure of highlighting some wonderful work by Memorial fifth graders (Bella, Brooke, Arshiyah) and their teachers (Ms. Conceison and Ms. Beers) regarding their efforts to make sure that their school is an inclusive environment that recognizes the unique qualities of all students. We first heard about this great initiative back in March when Memorial Principal Deb Dressler shared  the story on her blog:

Two dedicated fifth graders had an inspirational idea to create more inclusion and expand our tolerance for difference.
Each week, students in Ms. Conceison class spend time getting to know students in the LABBB program. They worked together to create a short presentation  for the entire fifth grade to think about how to INCLUDE everyone no matter how they think, talk or walk.
All fifth grade students signed the puzzle pieces to symbolize their unity.
Thank you to Ms. Conceison and Ms. Beers for making the girls vision come to life!
We are proud to share this Spotlight on Excellence with the Burlington Community and thank the students and staff involved for reinforcing the inclusiveness that we strive for in all of our schools!