Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District Technical Report by kdl17033

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									   Ashburnham-
Westminster Regional
  School District
 Technical Report




              2001 - 2004
   July
   1,
   2003
              The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
      Office of Educational Quality and Accountability
Educational Management Audit Council
Robert B. Schwartz, Chairman
Maura Banta
Jeffrey P. Howard
Kathleen Madigan


Joseph B. Rappa, Executive Director, Office of Educational Quality and Accountability




Visiting Panel
John Burruto, Examiner
James Hearns, Examiner/Field Program Coordinator
Rena Shea, Senior Examiner
John Sheehan, Associate Examiner
Patricia Williams, Associate Examiner


The Educational Management Audit Council voted to accept this report and its findings at
their meeting of September 16, 2005.




The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability would like to acknowledge the
professional cooperation extended to the audit team by the Department of Education; the
Superintendent of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, Michael Zapantis; the
school department staff of these districts; and the Town officials from these districts‟ member
communities.




                                              2
                                                      Table of Contents




Executive Summary ........................................................................................................................ 4
Part I: Overview of the EQA Review Process and the Districts ..................................................... 9
Part II: Tier I Analysis of Student Achievement and MCAS Test Data ....................................... 11
Assessment of Ashburnham-Westminster‟s MCAS Test Results 2001-2004 .............................. 12
Part III: Domain Findings and Summary ...................................................................................... 36
Appendix A: Proficiency Index (PI) ........................................................................................... 109
Appendix B: Ashburnham-Westminster‟s Chapter 70 Funding and NSS FY1996-2004 .......... 110




                                                                     3
                                    Executive Summary

The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (EQA) examined the Ashburnham-
Westminster Regional School District in mid-April of 2005. During 2001-2004, it was among
the „High‟ performing school districts in the Commonwealth. The following provides a summary
of the findings of the examination and these districts‟ performance on the 2004 Massachusetts
Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test.


Proficiency/Achievement:
 Ashburnham-Westminster‟s Average Proficiency Index (API) was 83.3, which was based on
   the 2004 MCAS results. The state average for the API was 77.6 in 2004. This placed
   Ashburnham-Westminster among the „High‟ performing academic school districts in the
   Commonwealth. In English Language Arts (ELA), the district‟s ELA Proficiency Index
   (EPI) was 89.3, and the state average for EPI was 84. In math, the district‟s math Proficiency
   Index (MPI) was 77.3 and the state average for MPI was 71.3.

   More than half of all students in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency on the 2003
    and 2004 MCAS tests. These were not different than those of students statewide.
   Approximately two-thirds of all students in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency
    on the 2004 MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) subtests and approximately half attained
    proficiency on the math and the science and technology/engineering (STE) subtests. These
    were not different than those on those subtests statewide. The district-wide gaps in ELA,
    math, and STE were also not different than those statewide in those subject areas.
   On the grades 5 and 8 STE and Grade 10 math subtests, the percentages of Ashburnham-
    Westminster students attaining proficiency were each higher than those of students statewide.
    On the Grade 8 math subtest, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students attaining
    proficiency was lower than that on the Grade 7 ELA subtest. In grades 7 and 10 ELA and in
    Grade 10 math, the gaps in Ashburnham-Westminster were each narrower than those in the
    state. In Grade 10, the gaps in ELA and in math were both narrower than those district-wide
    in ELA and in math. In Grade 4, the gap in ELA was wider than that district-wide in ELA.

   On the MCAS retest administered in the winter of 2005, 98 percent of the Ashburnham-
    Westminster class of 2005 earned a Competency Determination (CD), as compared to 92
    percent of the statewide class of 2005.

   On the MCAS retest administered in the winter of 2005, 97 percent of the Ashburnham-
    Westminster class of 2006 earned a Competency Determination, as compared to 86 percent
    of the statewide class of 2006.




                                                4
Equity of Achievement/Proficiency:
Ashburnham-Westminster‟s proficiency gap in ELA was 38.1 PI points in 2004. In math, it was
   56.6 points.
For Ashburnham-Westminster‟s students with disabilities, the gaps in both ELA and math were
   wider than those for all Ashburnham-Westminster students in 2004. Less than one-third of
   students with disabilities in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency on the 2004
   MCAS tests. This was lower than that of regular education students in Ashburnham-
   Westminster.
The percentages of African-American and Hispanic students in Ashburnham-Westminster who
   attained proficiency on the 2004 MCAS tests were higher than those of African-American
   and Hispanic students in the state.
For Ashburnham-Westminster‟s students eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch (FRL/Y), the gap
   in ELA was wider than for all Ashburnham-Westminster students in 2004. The percentages
   of Ashburnham-Westminster‟s FRL/Y students, students eligible for free lunch (FL), and
   students eligible for reduced-cost lunch (RL) who attained proficiency on the 2004 MCAS
   tests were higher than those of FRL/Y, FL, and RL students in the state.

Improvement:
The percentage of all Ashburnham-Westminster students attaining proficiency on the 2004
   MCAS tests was 8 percentage points higher than that on the 2001 tests.
In Ashburnham-Westminster between 2001 and 2004, the ELA gap closed by 6.0 PI points, a
   35.9 percent gain in closing that gap. The math gap closed by 5.9 PI points, a 20.6 percent
   gain between 2001 and 2004 in Ashburnham-Westminster.


Equity of Improvement:
The proficiency gap in ELA closed by 10.2 PI points between 2002 and 2004 in Ashburnham-
   Westminster; in math, it closed by 15.0 points.
For FRL/Y students in Ashburnham-Westminster, the gaps in both ELA and math narrowed
   between 2002 and 2004.


Participation and Access:
On the 2004 ELA, math, and STE subtests, eligible students participated at required levels in
   Ashburnham-Westminster.

Summary of Preliminary Findings by Domain:

Assessment and Evaluation:
 The EQA examiners rated the district as „Satisfactory‟ on fourteen, „Poor‟ on nine, and
   „Unsatisfactory‟ on five of the twenty-eight performance indicators in this domain.

   During the review period, due to budget restrictions, the district did not regularly administer
    standardized tests, other than the MCAS test.


                                                5
   The district had assessment and school attendance practices and policies in place, and MCAS
    test participation and school attendance exceeded required standards.

   Within staff performance evaluations, district administrators and teachers were not held
    accountable for student achievement results.

   Administrator and teacher evaluations were not compliant with Chapter 71, section 38 and
    CMR 603 35.00.

   The district infrequently performed data-driven analysis of the effectiveness of programs in
    place during the review period.

   The district‟s decision to allocate funds to compensate staff during a time of budget
    restrictions limited its implementation and evaluation of programs, and its acquisition of
    resources.

Curriculum and Instruction:
 The EQA examiners rated the district as „Satisfactory‟ on twenty, „Poor‟ on nine, and
   „Unsatisfactory‟ on two of the thirty-one performance indicators in this domain.

   In the absence of district-wide coordination of curriculum, horizontal alignment between
    elementary schools, and vertical alignment from elementary to middle and middle to high
    school was minimal.

   Administrators lost an important opportunity to provide instructional leadership by failing to
    complete the elements of the four-year teacher evaluation cycle.

   During the period under review, professional development opportunities were limited as a
    result of budget restrictions.

   Educational technology was not equitably available across the district. Although recently
    renovated schools were well equipped, other schools were not.

   As of February 2005, 98 percent of the class of 2005 earned a Competency Determination
    (CD).

   For the period under examination, the district did not have a district-wide professional
    development plan.

   High school, middle school, and elementary school teachers and administrators enrolled in
    many courses of study and workshops for professional development and recertification
    purposes.




                                                6
   Professional development initiatives and programs delivered during the scheduled school
    calendar "work days" and at other times during the school year and summers were building-
    based but not directly linked to district or school improvement plans.

Academic Support Services:
 The EQA examiners rated the district as „Satisfactory‟ on nine, „Poor‟ on one, and
   „Unsatisfactory‟ on one of the eleven performance indicators in this domain.

   During the review period, the district did not have a District Curriculum Accommodation
    Plan (DCAP).

   Although the district performed analyses of student assessment results and provided
    academic support and supplementary programs, the reduction in the number of students in
    the „Warning/Failing‟ category for ELA and math during the review period was limited.

Leadership, Governance, and Organization:
 The EQA examiners rated the district as „Satisfactory‟ on thirteen, „Poor‟ on four, and
   „Unsatisfactory‟ on one of the eighteen performance indicators in this domain.

   Between 2001 and 2004, the district did not have a District Improvement Plan (DIP).

   During the period under review, the school committee‟s policy manual was outdated in
    several areas.

   According to a review of the district‟s personnel files, six out of 12 administrators were
    appropriately certified.

   The district had a mentoring program and each school had trained mentors during the period
    under review.

   Each building principal was responsible for disseminating essential information to all staff
    members.

Business and Finance:
 The EQA examiners rated the district as „Satisfactory‟ on twenty-four, „Poor‟ on three, and
   „Unsatisfactory‟ on one of the twenty-eight performance indicators in this domain.

   During the period under review, budget restrictions limited the district‟s ability to provide
    adequate educational resources. The district was required to reduce staff, reduce professional
    development, reduce purchasing materials, equipment, and textbooks, and had to establish
    student activity fees for athletics and co-curricular activities.

   The district did not implement programmatic, cost-effectiveness reviews as part of the budget
    process, although the district had a detailed budget process.




                                                7
   During the period under review, the operating budgets were reduced each year and, while
    student achievement was a consideration and some data analysis and resource distribution
    was provided, preservation of classroom teachers and maintaining acceptable class sizes were
    reported to be the priority when the budget was deliberated.

   During the period under review, because the school committee policies related to finance
    were not up-to-date and were limited, they were insufficient to determine the processes and
    expectations for expenditures, transfers, and investment of funds.

   Although the regional high and middle school had been recently constructed or renovated,
    and the communities of Westminster and Ashburnham were responsible for capital
    expenditures for the elementary schools, during the period under review, no long-term capital
    plan was in place in the district.




                                                8
          Part I: Overview of the EQA Review Process and the Districts

On April 11 through 13, 2005, the EQA conducted an independent examination of the
Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District for the period 2001-2004. This examination
applied the standards related to the EQA‟s five major domains of inquiry, which include: A,
Assessment and Evaluation; B, Curriculum and Instruction; C, Student Academic Support
Services; D, Leadership and Governance; and E, Business and Financial Management. The
EQA‟s examination process for school districts involved two tiers of investigation and used 15
standards. The report is based on the source documents, correspondence sent prior to the on-site
visit, interviews with the representatives from the school committee, the district leadership team,
school administrators, and additional documents submitted while in the district. The report does
not consider documents, revised data, or comments that may have surfaced after the on-site visit.


The following member communities of the Ashburnham-Westminster school district,
Ashburnham and Westminster are small towns located in northern Worcester County in central
Massachusetts. In these towns, education, healthcare, and social services are the largest sources
of employment, followed by manufacturing. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the towns have
a combined population of 12,453 people and a median family income of $60,414, while the
median family income in Massachusetts is $61,664. The towns are governed by Town
Meetings/Boards of Selectmen. There is a 10-person school committee in the Ashburnham-
Westminster school district. In Ashburnham-Westminster, there are five schools grades PreK-12.
The most recent Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) figures indicate that there were
2,416 students enrolled in Ashburnham-Westminster on October 1, 2004. The average
demographic/subgroup composition in Ashburnham-Westminster is: 95.8 percent White, 1.4
percent Hispanic-American, 1.3 percent African-American, 1.3 percent Asian-American,
Limited English Proficiency (LEP), 0.0 percent; Low-Income, 8.7 percent; and Special
Education (SPED), 19.4 percent.


For the nine-year period, FY1996 to FY2004, Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School
District did meet the state-mandated Net School Spending Requirement. For the period between
FY1996 and FY2004, Chapter 70 Aid to Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District



                                                9
increased 46.3 percent (from $6,006,323 to $8,787,951). Ashburnham-Westminster‟s Required
Local Contribution increased 59.2 percent (from $4,395,045 to $6,994,722). Since FY1996,
Ashburnham-Westminster received a total of $68,490,815 in Chapter 70 Aid and was required to
raise locally $52,045,423. From FY2001 to FY2004, Chapter 70 Aid was $33,963,332 and the
Required Local Contribution was $26,143,976. For the period between FY1996 and FY2004,
Ashburnham-Westminster‟s foundation enrollment increased 2.5 percent and its student
headcount decreased 1.9 percent. Between FY2001 and FY2004, its foundation enrollment
decreased .25 percent and its student headcount decreased 2.8 percent.


This report finds Ashburnham-Westminster to be a „High‟ performing school district, marked by
student achievement that is „High‟ in ELA and „Moderate‟ in math on the MCAS test. Since
2001, Ashburnham-Westminster has demonstrated slight improvement on its „High‟ MCAS test
scores. In Ashburnham-Westminster, 59 percent of the students scored above standard on the
2004 administration of the MCAS test.




                                               10
     Part II: Tier I Analysis of Student Achievement and MCAS Test Data
At Tier I, while particular attention was paid to the 2004 MCAS test, the EQA review of
Ashburnham-Westminster‟s MCAS test results (2001-2004) was framed by the following five
essential questions:

1. Proficiency/Achievement: To what extent is the MCAS test performance of all of the
   district’s students meeting or exceeding state proficiency standards?

2. Equity of Achievement: How does the MCAS test performance vary among the district’s
   student subgroups?

3. Improvement: How has the MCAS test performance for all students in the district
   changed over time?

4. Equity of Improvement: How has the MCAS test performance for the district’s student
   subgroups changed over time?

5. Opportunity and Access: Are all eligible students attending and participating in all
   required programs and assessments?


In order to respond accurately to these questions, the EQA subjected the most current state and
district MCAS test results to a series of analyses to determine whether there were significant
differences between the mean results of district students and those of students statewide or
between student subgroups within the district. Descriptive analyses of the results of the 2004
MCAS test revealed significant differences between students in the district and the average
scores of students in Massachusetts.


To highlight those differences, the data was then summarized in several ways: a criterion-based
summary of student achievement in Ashburnham-Westminster; and comparative analyses of
district-wide, subject-area, grade, school, and subgroup achievement in relation to that of
students statewide, in relation to the district averages, and in relation to other subject areas,
grades, and subgroups. A discussion of that summary follows.




                                               11
        Assessment of Ashburnham-Westminster’s MCAS Test Results 2001-2004

1. Proficiency/Achievement: To what extent is the MCAS test performance of all the district’s
   students meeting or exceeding state proficiency standards?
   Preliminary Finding(s):
   More than half of all students in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency on the 2003 and
     2004 MCAS tests. These were not different than those of students statewide.
   Approximately two-thirds of all students in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency on
      the 2004 MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) subtests and approximately half attained
      proficiency on the math and the science and technology/engineering (STE) subtests. These
      were not different than those on those subtests statewide. The district-wide gaps in ELA,
      math, and STE were also not different than those statewide in those subject areas.
   On the grades 5 and 8 STE and Grade 10 math subtests, the percentages of Ashburnham-
      Westminster students attaining proficiency were each higher than those of students statewide.
      On the Grade 8 math subtest, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students attaining
      proficiency was lower than that on the Grade 7 ELA subtest. In grades 7 and 10 ELA and in
      Grade 10 math, the gaps in Ashburnham-Westminster were each narrower than those in the
      state. In Grade 10, the gaps in ELA and in math were both narrower than those district-wide
      in ELA and in math. In Grade 4, the gap in ELA was wider than that district-wide in ELA.
   Figures/Tables 1/A-B:
                    Student MCAS Test Performance, Overall, 2003 and 2004
   A.

                                                             MCAS 2003 Data
                                              Percent of reportable students at each proficiency
                                                                     level
                           Above Standard




                                            100
                                            80
                                            60
                                            40
                                            20
                                             0
                           Below Standard




                                            20
                                            40
                                            60
                                             80
                                            100
                                                           State             Ashburnham-Westminster


                        Advanced                                   15                        13
                        Proficient                                 36                        40
                      Needs Improv.                                32                        36
                     Warning/Failing                               17                        11




                                                                    12
B.

                                                       MCAS 2004 Data
                                        Percent of reportable students at each proficiency
                                                               level




                     Above Standard
                                      100
                                      80
                                      60
                                      40
                                      20
                                       0
                     Below Standard


                                      20
                                      40
                                      60
                                       80
                                      100
                                                     State             Ashburnham-Westminster


                 Advanced                                    16                        16
                 Proficient                                  37                        43
               Needs Improv.                                 32                        33
               Warning/Failing                               15                        8

Analysis of Figures/Tables 1A-B:
On the 2003 MCAS test, 53 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in the
  „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories.
On the 2004 MCAS test, 59 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in the
  „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories.




                                                              13
Figures/Tables 2:
                                                Performance by Subject


                                                   MCAS 2004 Data
                                         Percent of reportable students at each
                                                       Proficiency level
      Above Standard




                       100
                        80
                        60
                        40
                        20
                         0
      Below Standard




                        20
                        40
                        60
                        80
                       100
                             State ELA   Ashburnham-        State MTH    Ashburnham-        State STE   Ashburnham-
                                         Westminster                         Westminster                Westminster
                                             ELA                                MTH                         STE




                                   Advanced            13      11       18        19       12     11
                                   Proficient          50      58       27        33       32     41
                                 Needs Improv.         29      28       35        37       35     37
                                 Warning/Failing        8       3       20        11       21     10

Analysis of Figure/Table 2:
On the 2004 MCAS ELA subtests, 69 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in
   the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories.
On the MCAS math subtests in 2004, 52 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in
   the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories.
On the MCAS STE subtests, 52 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in the
   „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories in 2004.




                                                                14
Figures/Tables 3/A-F:
                                                             Performance by Grade
A.

                                                             MCAS 2004 Grade 03 Reading
                                                     Percent of reportable students at each proficiency
                                                                            level

                              Above Standard
                                               100
                                                80
                                                60
                                                40
                                                20
                                                 0
                              Below Standard




                                                20
                                                40
                                                60
                                                80
                                               100
                                                                    State                  Ashburnham-Westminster


                    Proficient                                              64                                70
                  Needs Improv.                                             30                                28
                    Warning                                                 6                                 2
B.

                                                              MCAS 2004 Data - Grade 04
                                               Percent of reportable students at each proficiency level
                                                                 English and M ath
                        Above Standard




                                               100
                                                80
                                                60
                                                40
                                                20
                                                 0
                                                20
                        Below Standard




                                                40
                                                60
                                                80
                                               100
                                                        State ELA      Ashburnham-         State MT H        Ashburnham-
                                                                       Westminster                           Westminster
                                                                          ELA                                   MT H


                  Advanced                                       11                   3                 14             10
                  Proficient                                     45                   47                29             26
                Needs Improv.                                    35                   44                44             56
                Warning/Failing                                  9                    6                 13             9




                                                                                 15
C.

                                    MCAS 2004 Grade 05/08 Science
                               Percent of reportable students at each proficiency
                            level for the Science, Technology and Engineering Test




           Above Standard
                            100
                            80
                            60
                            40
                            20
                             0
           Below Standard


                            20
                            40
                            60
                            80
                            100
                                           State             Ashburnham-Westminster


       Advanced                                    5                         6
       Proficient                                  28                        38
     Needs Improv.                                 36                        40
     Warning/Failing                               31                        16

D.

                                       MCAS 2004 Data - Grade 06
                              Percent of reportable students at each proficiency
                                                     level
           Above Standard




                            100
                             80
                             60
                             40
                             20
                              0
                             20
           Below Standard




                             40
                             60
                             80
                            100
                                        State MT H           Ashburnham-Westminster
                                                                      MT H


       Advanced                                    17                        19
       Proficient                                  26                        32
     Needs Improv.                                 33                        37
     Warning/Failing                               24                        12




                                                     16
E.

                                    MCAS 2004 Data - Grade 07/08
                          Percent of reportable students at each proficiency level
                                            English and M ath




         Above Standard
                          100
                           80
                           60
                           40
                           20
                            0
                           20
         Below Standard


                           40
                           60
                           80
                          100
                                State ELA     Ashburnham-   State MT H        Ashburnham-
                                              Westminster                     Westminster
                                                 ELA                             MT H


       Advanced                          9             6                 13             12
       Proficient                        60            73                26             32
     Needs Improv.                       25            21                33             36
     Warning/Failing                     6             1                 28             19
F.

                                      MCAS 2004 Data - Grade 10
                          Percent of reportable students at each proficiency level
                                            English and M ath
         Above Standard




                          100
                           80
                           60
                           40
                           20
                            0
                           20
         Below Standard




                           40
                           60
                           80
                          100
                                State ELA     Ashburnham-   State MT H        Ashburnham-
                                              Westminster                     Westminster
                                                 ELA                             MT H


       Advanced                          19            28                30             39
       Proficient                        44            53                28             42
     Needs Improv.                       28            18                29             17
     Warning/Failing                     9             1                 14             3




                                                  17
Analysis of Figures/Tables 3A-F:
On the 2004 grades 5 and 8 STE subtests, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students
   who scored in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories was 11 percentage points higher
   than that of all students in the state on those subtests.
On the 2004 Grade 8 math subtest, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students who
   scored in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories was 35 percentage points lower than
   that of students in Ashburnham-Westminster on the Grade 7 ELA subtest.
On the 2004 Grade 10 math subtest, 81 percent of Ashburnham-Westminster students scored in
   the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories.
Figures 4/A-B/Table 4:
                           Proficiency Index (MCAS 2004) by Grade
A.

                               Proficiency Index by Grade (ELA)

                    95.0
                    90.0
                    85.0
                    80.0
                                                                   State
                    75.0
               PI




                    70.0
                                                                   Ashburnham-
                    65.0
                                                                   Westminster
                    60.0
                    55.0
                    50.0
                    45.0
                           Grade 03 Grade 04 Grade 07 Grade 10
                                         Grade


B.

                               Proficiency Index by Grade (Math)

                    95.0
                    90.0
                    85.0
                    80.0
                                                                   State
                    75.0
               PI




                    70.0
                    65.0                                           Ashburnham-
                    60.0                                           Westminster
                    55.0
                    50.0
                    45.0
                           Grade 04 Grade 06 Grade 08 Grade 10
                                         Grade




                                                 18
                              Ashburnham-            Ashburnham-           Ashburnham-
                      State   Westminster    State   Westminster   State   Westminster
                      ELA         ELA        Math       Math       STE         STE
          Grade 03     85.5       89.0        0.0        0.0        0.0        0.0
          Grade 04     81.1       82.1       74.0       72.4        0.0        0.0
          Grade 05     0.0        0.0         0.0        0.0        78.7       85.4
          Grade 06     0.0        0.0        68.4       76.3        0.0        0.0
          Grade 07     86.4       92.7        0.0        0.0        0.0        0.0
          Grade 08     0.0        0.0        65.2       71.6        62.8       73.5
          Grade 10     83.0       93.7       78.6       92.9        0.0        0.0
         All Grades    84.0       89.3       71.3       77.3        70.6       78.8



Analysis of Figures/Tables 4:
In Grade 7, the gap in ELA in Ashburnham-Westminster was 7.3 PI points; statewide, it was
   13.6 points in that subject area for that grade.
In Grade 10, the gap in ELA in Ashburnham-Westminster was 6.3 PI points; statewide it was
   17.0 points in that subject area for that grade, and district-wide it was 10.7 points in ELA.
In Grade 10, the gap in math in Ashburnham-Westminster was 7.1 PI points; statewide it was
   21.4 points in that subject area for that grade, and district-wide it was 22.7 points in math.
In Grade 4, the gap in ELA in Ashburnham-Westminster was 17.9 PI points; district-wide it was
    10.7 points in ELA.




                                               19
Figure/Table 5:
                                      Proficiency Index (MCAS 2004) by School
                                                  ELA vs Math PI (by School)
                      100

                                                                                                C
                            90

                            80
                                                                                            A
                                                                                        B       D
                            70                                                      E
                  Math PI




                            60

                            50

                            40

                            30

                            20
                                 20    30    40       50      60      70       80       90          100
                                                            ELA PI

                                                                                    ELA             Math
                            A           Ashburnham-Westminster District             89.3            77.3
                            B                 Briggs Elementary                     87.4            74.4
                            C            Oakmont Regional High School               93.7            92.9
                            D               Overlook Middle School                  92.7            73.8
                            E               Westminster Elementary                  84.0            70.7

Analysis of Figures/Tables 5:
At Overlook Middle School in 2004, the gap in ELA was 7.3 PI points, and at Westminster
   Elementary, it was 16.0 points in 2004; the district-wide gap in ELA was 10.7 points.
At Oakmont Regional High School, the gap in math was 7.1 PI points in 2004; the district-wide
   gap in math was 22.7 points.
At Oakmont Regional High School, the gap between the EPI and MPI was 0.8 PI points in 2004;
   district-wide, this gap was 12.0 points.




                                                             20
2. Equity of Achievement: How does the MCAS test performance vary among the district’s
    student subgroups?

   Preliminary Finding(s):
   Ashburnham-Westminster‟s proficiency gap in ELA was 38.1 PI points in 2004. In math, it was
      56.6 points.
   For Ashburnham-Westminster‟s students with disabilities, the gaps in both ELA and math were
      wider than those for all Ashburnham-Westminster students in 2004. Less than one-third of
      students with disabilities in Ashburnham-Westminster attained proficiency on the 2004
      MCAS tests. This was lower than that of regular education students in Ashburnham-
      Westminster.
   The percentages of African-American and Hispanic students in Ashburnham-Westminster who
      attained proficiency on the 2004 MCAS tests were higher than those of African-American
      and Hispanic students in the state.
   For Ashburnham-Westminster‟s students eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch (FRL/Y), the gap
      in ELA was wider than for all Ashburnham-Westminster students in 2004. The percentages
      of Ashburnham-Westminster‟s FRL/Y students, students eligible for free lunch (FL), and
      students eligible for reduced-cost lunch (RL) who attained proficiency on the 2004 MCAS
      tests were higher than those of FRL/Y, FL, and RL students in the state.




                                                21
Figure /Table 6:
                   Proficiency Index (MCAS 2004) Free/Reduced lunch Status,
                                     Student Status, and Race
                                     ELA vs. Math PI (by subgroup)


             100


              90

                                                                                 C
              80
                                                                             E
                                                                             A
                                                                       D
              70
             Math PI

              60
                                                             B
              50


              40


              30


              20
                   20    30     40      50      60      70       80     90           100

                                              ELA PI


                                                                                            # of
                                                        ELA                Math            Tests
        A      ASHBURNHAM-WESTMINSTER                   89.3               77.3            1,175
        B              Disability                       72.4               54.6             221
        C              Regular                          93.7               81.9             954
        D              FRL (Y)                          85.5               72.9             106
        E              FRL (N)                          89.7               77.8            1,069


Analysis of Figure/Table 6:
In Ashburnham-Westminster in 2004, the gap in ELA was 10.7 PI points for all students; for
   students with disabilities this gap was 27.6 PI points, for regular education students it was 6.3
   points, and FRL/Y students it was 14.5 points. The gap in math was 22.7 PI points for all
   students; for students with disabilities the gap was 45.4 points.
The span between the highest and lowest ELA performance ratings of a subgroup was 21.3
   points in Ashburnham-Westminster in 2004. In math, this subgroup span was 27.3 points.
   The average of the differences between the 2004 ELA performance rating of the highest-
   scoring subgroup and those of the other subgroups (excluding the lowest-scoring subgroup)


                                                22
     was 6.1 points in Ashburnham-Westminster. In math, this average subgroup gap was 6.6
     points.
The proficiency gap in ELA was 38.1 PI points in Ashburnham-Westminster. In math, the
   proficiency gap was 56.6 points.


Figures/Table 7/A-C:
                       Student Population by Reportable Subgroups
A.
                                              Students by Status
                                                                     Disability
                                                                      19%




                        Regular
                         81%




B.

                                            Students by Free Lunch
                                  FRL (Y)
                                    9%




                           FRL (N)
                             91%




                                                      23
C.
                                              Student Population Free vs. Reduced

                                                   Reduced
                                                     5%                     Ineligible
                                                                               0%




                                                                                              Free
                                                                                              95%




Analysis of Figures/Tables 7/A-C:
 More than two-thirds of students in Ashburnham-Westminster were in regular education and
  were FRL/N in 2004.


Figure /Table 8:
           Student Subgroup MCAS Test Performance, by Student Status, 2004


                                                             MCAS 2004 Data
                                            Percent of Regular and Disabilites students at each
                                                            proficiency level
                     Above Standard




                                      100
                                       80
                                       60
                                       40
                                       20
                                        0
                     Below Standard




                                       20
                                       40
                                       60
                                       80
                                      100
                                               State Reg     Ashburnham-   State Disability     Ashburnham-
                                                             Westminster                        Westminster
                                                                 Reg                             Disability


                                        Advanced              19           19             3           0
                                        Proficient            42           48            18          21
                                      Needs Improv.           30           29            41          55
                                      Warning/Failing         9             4            38          24




                                                                   24
Analysis of Figure/Table 8:
On the 2004 MCAS test, 21 percent of the students with disabilities in Ashburnham-Westminster
   scored in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 46 percentage
   points lower than that of Ashburnham-Westminster‟s regular education students.
Figure /Table 9:
                   Student Subgroup MCAS Test Performance, by Free and
                                          Reduced Lunch Eligibility Status, 2004


                                                               MCAS 2004 Data
                                              Percent of students at each proficiency level by Race



                                        100
                       Above Standard




                                        80
                                        60
                                        40
                                        20
                                         0
                       Below Standard




                                        20
                                        40
                                        60
                                        80
                                        100
                                               State Afr- Ash/West State Ash/West      State   Ash/West
                                                 Amer Afr-Amer Hispanic Hispanic       White    White



                 Advanced                              4         0          4         0         18        16
                 Proficient                            24        53         20        50        41        43
               Needs Improv.                           41        41         40        45        31        33
               Warning/Failing                         31        6          37        5         10         8


Analysis of Figure/Table 9:
On the 2004 MCAS test, 53 percent of the African-American students in Ashburnham-
  Westminster scored in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 25
  percentage points higher than that of African-American students in the state.
On the 2004 MCAS test, 50 percent of the Hispanic students in Ashburnham-Westminster scored
   in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 26 percentage points
   higher than that of Hispanic students statewide.




                                                                    25
Figure /Table 10:
                Student Subgroup MCAS Test Performance, by Free and
                                        Reduced Lunch Eligibility Status, 2004


                                                           MCAS 2004 Data
                                            Percent of students by FreeLunch status at each
                     Above Standard                        proficiency level



                                      100
                                       80
                                       60
                                       40
                                       20
                                        0
                     Below Standard




                                       20
                                       40
                                       60
                                       80
                                      100
                                            State FRL(Y)   Ashburnham-    State FRL(N)   Ashburnham-
                                                           Westminster                   Westminster
                                                             FRL(Y)                        FRL(N)


                                        Advanced            4             7        20         17
                                        Proficient          24           45        42         43
                                      Needs Improv.         42           38        29         33
                                      Warning/Failing       30           11         9          7


Analysis of Figure/Table 10:
On the 2004 MCAS test, 52 percent of the FRL/Y students in Ashburnham-Westminster scored
   in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 24 percentage points
   higher than that of FRL/Y students statewide.




                                                                 26
Figure /Table 11:
                 Student Subgroup MCAS Test Performance, by Free and
                                                     Reduced Lunch Status, 2004


                                                                      MCAS 2004 Data
                                      Percent of reportabl e students at each Free Lunch
                                                        Subcategory
                    Above Standard

                                     100
                                      80
                                      60
                                      40
                                      20
                                       0
                                      20
                    Below Standard




                                      40
                                      60
                                      80
                                     100




                                                                                                               ced
                                                o




                                                                               e




                                                                                                                                      ed
                                                                                                  e
                                                                 o


                                                                            Fre
                                             LN




                                                                                              Fre
                                                             LN




                                                                                                                                 d uc
                                                                                                              du
                                                                            te
                                           FR




                                                                                                           Re
                                                                                             t er
                                                           FR




                                                                                                                              Re
                                                                        Sta



                                                                                          ins
                                          te




                                                                                                          te
                                                          t er




                                                                                                                             t er
                                      Sta




                                                                                                      Sta
                                                                                      stm
                                                       ins




                                                                                                                          ins
                                                                                   We
                                                   stm




                                                                                                                      stm
                                                                                 m-
                                                We




                                                                                                                   We
                                                                                a
                                                m-




                                                                                                               m-
                                                                            rn h
                                               a




                                                                                                               a
                                                                          h bu
                                           rn h




                                                                                                           rn h
                                                                        As
                                         h bu




                                                                                                        h bu
                                       As




                                                                                                      As




                      Advanced                                   20       17              4            3              7               12
                      Proficient                                 42       43              22          48              30              40
                    Needs Improv.                                29       33              42          35              42              42
                    Warning/Failing                               9        7              32          14              22              6


Analysis of Figure/Table 11:
On the 2004 MCAS test, 51 percent of the FL students in Ashburnham-Westminster scored in
   the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 25 percentage points higher
   than that of FL students in the state.
On the 2004 MCAS test, 52 percent of the RL students in Ashburnham-Westminster scored in
   the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories. This percentage was 15 percentage points higher
   than that of RL students in the state.




                                                                           27
3. Improvement: How has the MCAS test performance for all students in the district changed
    over time?


   Preliminary Findings:
   The percentage of all Ashburnham-Westminster students attaining proficiency on the 2004
      MCAS tests was 8 percentage points higher than that on the 2001 tests.
   In Ashburnham-Westminster between 2001 and 2004, the ELA gap closed by 6.0 PI points, a
      35.9 percent gain in closing that gap. The math gap closed by 5.9 PI points, a 20.6 percent
      gain between 2001 and 2004 in Ashburnham-Westminster.
   Figure/Tables 12:
                                         Student MCAS Test Performance, 2001-2004




                                         100
                        Above Standard




                                          80

                                          60
                                          40
                                          20

                                           0

                                          20
                        Below Standard




                                          40
                                          60

                                          80
                                         100
                                                2001        2002        2003        2004


                         Advanced                      10          12          13          16
                         Proficient                    41          42          40          43
                       Needs Improv.                   37          36          36          33
                       Warning/Failing                 12          10          11          8


   Analysis of Figure/Table 12:
   The percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students scoring in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟
      categories on the MCAS test in 2004 was 8 percentage points higher than in 2001.
   The percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟ category
      on the MCAS test in 2004 was 4 percentage points lower than in 2001.




                                                             28
Figure/Table 13:
                Proficiency Index Trend Data MCAS 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

                                    Prof. Index Trend Data
           100.0
            90.0                       87.5                                   89.3
                                                             87.2
            80.0       83.3
            70.0       71.4
                                       73.1
                                                             72.0
                                                                              77.3

            60.0
            50.0
            40.0
            30.0
            20.0
            10.0
             0.0       2001            2002                2003               2004

                                       ELA                 Math

                    Trend Data MCAS, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 (detail)
                                     ELA                                    Math
                        2001    2002     2003       2004       2001    2002     2003      2004
       Advanced         7.6%   11.6%    11.7%      11.3%      12.0%   12.0%    14.3%     18.7%
       Proficient      51.9%   54.5%    57.2%      58.4%      29.7%   33.8%    27.3%     32.6%
   Needs Improvement   33.5%   31.8%    28.1%      27.8%      40.8%   38.7%      41.9%   37.3%
    Warning/Failing     7.0%    2.1%     3.1%       2.5%      17.5%   15.6%      16.6%   11.4%


Analysis of Figure/Table 13:
In Ashburnham-Westminster between 2001 and 2004, the ELA gap closed by 6.0 PI points. The
    math gap closed by 5.9 PI points between 2001 and 2004 in Ashburnham-Westminster.
The gap between the EPI and MPI widened by 0.1 point between 2001 and 2004 in
   Ashburnham-Westminster.
In ELA, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟
    category on the MCAS tests in 2004 was 4.5 percentage points lower than in 2001.
In math, the percentage of Ashburnham-Westminster students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟
   category on the MCAS tests in 2004 was 6.1 percentage points lower than in 2001.




                                              29
4. Equity of Improvement: How has the MCAS test performance for the district’s student
    subgroups change over time?


   Preliminary Finding(s):
   The proficiency gap in ELA closed by 10.2 PI points between 2002 and 2004 in Ashburnham-
      Westminster; in math, it closed by 15.0 points.
   For FRL/Y students in Ashburnham-Westminster, the gaps in both ELA and math narrowed
      between 2002 and 2004.


   Figures 14/A-B/Table 14:
                   Improvement in Student MCAS Test Performance by Subgroup
           NOTE: In the following graphs, the bars represent the individual district’s performance;
                      the dots represent the performance of all the schools in the state.
   A.
                                         Prof Inde x by Subgroup (ELA)
             100

              90

              80

              70

              60

              50

              40

              30

              20

              10

               0
                    02

                         03

                               04

                                    02

                                          03

                                                   04

                                                        02

                                                               03

                                                                      04

                                                                           02

                                                                                 03

                                                                                          04

                                                                                               02

                                                                                                     03

                                                                                                              04




                         ALL             Regular             Disability         FRL (N)             FRL (Y)




                                                                30
B.
                                            Prof Index by Subgroup (Math)

            100
               90
               80
               70
               60
               50
               40
               30
               20
               10
               0
                    02

                          03

                               04

                                    02

                                           03

                                                   04

                                                        02

                                                               03

                                                                      04

                                                                              02

                                                                                    03

                                                                                             04

                                                                                                    02

                                                                                                          03

                                                                                                                   04
                         ALL             Regular             Disability            FRL (N)               FRL (Y)




       State                                                         Ashburnham-
                                                                     Westminster
                                    ELA            Math                                                        ELA      Math
       ALL               ‘02        81.4           66.5                     ALL                   ‘02          87.5     73.1
                         ‘03        82.1           69.1                                           ‘03          87.2     72.0
                         ‘04        83.5           71.3                                           ‘04          89.3     77.3
     Regular             ‘02        85.8           71.4                   Regular                 ‘02          89.8     77.0
                         ‘03        87.3           74.7                                           ‘03          91.8     77.8
                         ‘04        89.1           77.3                                           ‘04          93.7     81.9
     Disability          ‘02        57.4           41.0                   Disability              ‘02          65.7     41.6
                         ‘03        62.9           47.2                                           ‘03          65.1     45.3
                         ‘04        63.4           48.0                                           ‘04          72.4     54.6
     FRL (N)             ‘02        85.8           72.0                   FRL (N)                 ‘02          88.2     75.3
                         ‘03        87.8           75.9                                           ‘03          87.7     72.7
                         ‘04        88.8           78.0                                           ‘04          89.7     77.8
     FRL (Y)             ‘02        65.3           46.7                   FRL (Y)                 ‘02          68.1     60.3
                         ‘03        66.7           51.0                                           ‘03          81.6     61.8
                         ‘04        69.6           53.9                                           ‘04          85.5     72.9


Analysis of Figures 14/A-B/Table 14:
In Ashburnham-Westminster, the gap in ELA for all students closed by 1.8 PI points. In math,
    the gap closed by 4.2 PI points for all students.
For FRL/Y students in Ashburnham-Westminster, the gap in ELA closed by 17.4 PI points. In
   math, the gap closed by 12.6 PI points for FRL/Y students.
The subgroup span in ELA closed by 2.8 PI points and, in math, the span closed by 8.1 points
   between 2002 and 2004 in Ashburnham-Westminster. The average gap in ELA closed by 5.6
   PI points, and the average gap in math closed by 2.7 points in Ashburnham-Westminster
   between 2002 and 2004.


                                                                31
   The proficiency gap in ELA closed by 10.2 PI points between 2002 and 2004 in Ashburnham-
      Westminster; in math, it closed by 15.0 points.


5. Participation and Access: Are all eligible students attending and participating in all
    required programs and assessments?
   Preliminary Finding(s):
   On the 2004 ELA, math, and STE subtests, eligible students participated at required levels in
      Ashburnham-Westminster.
   Table 15:
                        Student MCAS Test Participation by Subject Area
                                                 ELA      Math     STE
                                     NTO         0.9%     1.3%     1.0%
                                      T         98.5%    98.1%    98.8%
                                     ALT         0.0%     0.0%     0.0%
                                    NTM          0.5%     0.4%     0.0%
                                     NTA         0.0%     0.3%     0.2%
                           N-values for NTA, NTM, and NTO by Student Status:
                                         NTO = Not Tested, Other
                                               T = Tested
                                          ALT = Alt. Assessment
                                        NTM = Not Tested, Medical
                                         NTA = Not Tested, Absent


   Analysis of Table 15:
   In Ashburnham-Westminster, the 98.5 percent student participation rate on the 2004 MCAS ELA
       subtest was 3.5 percentage points higher than the state‟s 95 percent requirement.
   In Ashburnham-Westminster, the 98.1 percent student participation rate on the 2004 MCAS
      math subtest was 3.1 percentage points higher than the state‟s 95 percent requirement.
   In Ashburnham-Westminster, the 98.8 percent student participation rate on the 2004 MCAS STE
       subtest was 3.8 percentage points higher than the state‟s 95 percent requirement.




                                                  32
                                 Appendix: N- values

1. N-values by Grade

                       YEAR     GRADE       ELA   Math   STE
                        2001   Grade 03     184    0      0
                               Grade 04     193   192     0
                               Grade 05      0     0      0
                               Grade 06      0    196     0
                               Grade 07     197    0      0
                               Grade 08     221   221     0
                               Grade 10     175   175     0
                               All Grades   970   784     0
                       2002    Grade 03      0     0      0
                               Grade 04     187   186     0
                               Grade 05      0     0      0
                               Grade 06      0    218     0
                               Grade 07     198    0      0
                               Grade 08      0    205     0
                               Grade 10     182   182     0
                               All Grades   567   791     0
                       2003    Grade 03     189    0      0
                               Grade 04     175   175     0
                               Grade 05      0     0      0
                               Grade 06      0    211     0
                               Grade 07     218    0      0
                               Grade 08      0    194     0
                               Grade 10     163   163     0
                               All Grades   745   743     0
                       2004    Grade 03     187    0      0
                               Grade 04     190   190     0
                               Grade 05      0     0     182
                               Grade 06      0    205     0
                               Grade 07     208    0      0
                               Grade 08      0    227    227
                               Grade 10     159   158     0
                               All Grades   744   780    409




                                            33
2. N-values by Subgroup/Level:
                                                        ELA   Math   STE
                     Ashburnham-
                     Westminster      ALL LEVELS        744   780    409
                                        Advanced         63   146    46
                                        Proficient      455   254    168
                                      Needs Improv.     208   291    153
                                      Warning/Failing    18    89    42
                        Regular         Advanced         62   146    44
                                        Proficient      408   229    146
                                       Needs Improv     118   230    115
                                      Warning/Failing    3     44    20
                       Disability       Advanced        1      0     2
                                        Proficient      47     25    22
                                      Needs Improv.     90     61    38
                                      Warning/Failing   15     45    22
                    Free Lunch (Y)      Advanced        0      8     4
                                        Proficient      46     23    15
                                      Needs Improv.     19     31    19
                                      Warning/Failing   4      10    5
                    Free Lunch (N)      Advanced         63   138    42
                                        Proficient      409   231    153
                                      Needs Improv.     189   260    134
                                      Warning/Failing    14    79    37
                   African-American     Advanced         0     0      0
                                        Proficient       5     4      2
                                      Needs Improv.      7     2      3
                                      Warning/Failing    0     1      0
                    Asian-American      Advanced         4     5      1
                                        Proficient       7     2      1
                                      Needs Improv.      2     3      0
                                      Warning/Failing    0     0      1
                        Hispanic        Advanced         0     0      0
                                        Proficient       6     6      2
                                      Needs Improv.      6     4      3
                                      Warning/Failing    0     1      1
                         White          Advanced         59   141    45
                                        Proficient      437   242    163
                                      Needs Improv.     193   282    146
                                      Warning/Failing    17    86    40




                                              34
3. N-values by year:
                                                  2001         2002         2003        2004
                           Advanced                154          161          171         209
                           Proficient              641          576          521         579
                       Needs Improvement           583          486          467         446
                        Warning/Failing            192          135          140         103
                              Total               1,570        1,358        1,299       1,337

4. N-values for NTA, NTM, and NTO by Student Status:
                                                ELA               Math       STE
                               T.Disability     153               131         84
                                T.Regular       591               649        325
                             NTM.Disability       1                0          0
                              NTM.Regular         3                3          0
                             NTO.Disability       6                10         4
                              NTO.Regular         1                0          0
                              NTA.Regular         0                2          1


Notes: In 2004, for State vs. District performance charts, only data from ELA and math tests for grades 3 through 10
was included unless otherwise noted. For Proficiency Indicator charts, Grade 3 was included. Grade 3 does not
include an „Advanced‟ category and would therefore skew aggregated proficiency level charts. Subgroup inclusion
was based on the number of students in a district and the number of schools in a district. To be included, a subgroup
must have at least 10 times the number of schools in the district to be considered reportable. For example, in a
school district with four schools, only subgroup categories with 40 or more students from that district in that
category were included. These results include only Students with test status of Tested, ALT, or NTA with a Scaled
Score <> 200 unless otherwise noted.

In calculation for EPI, the following groups were included for each year reported:
2001: Gr. 4, Gr. 7, Gr. 10
2002: Gr. 4, Gr. 7, Gr. 10
2003: Gr. 4, Gr. 7, Gr. 10
2004: Gr. 3, Gr. 4, Gr. 7, Gr. 10

In calculation for MPI, the following groups were included for each year reported:
2001: Gr. 4, Gr. 8, Gr. 10
2002: Gr. 4, Gr. 8, Gr. 10
2003: Gr. 4, Gr. 8, Gr. 10
2004: Gr. 4, Gr. 6, Gr. 8, Gr. 10

Rounded differences may result in slight discrepancies.




                                                          35
                         Part III: Domain Findings and Summary
                              Domain A: Assessment and Evaluation

 Standards                Indicators     1    2   3    4     5     6     7    8    Total
Domain A - Assessment & Evaluation
S1 – Student Assessment
 Excellent                                         0    0   0    0     0     0     0   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                      1    1   1    0     1     1     1   N/A    6
 Poor                                              0    0   0    1     0     0     0   N/A    1
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    0   0    0     0     0     0   N/A    0
S2 - Participation
 Excellent                                         0    0   0    0     0     0     0   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                      1    1   1    1     1     1     1   N/A    7
 Poor                                              0    0   0    0     0     0     0   N/A    0
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    0   0    0     0     0     0   N/A    0
S3 - Evaluation Processes: Personnel
 Excellent                                         0    0   0    0     0     0     0    0     0
 Satisfactory                                      0    0   0    0     0     0     0    1     1
 Poor                                              1    0   0    0     0     1     0    0     2
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    1   1    1     1     0     1    0     5
S4 - Evaluation Processes: Programs, Services, &
Resource Acquisition
 Excellent                                         0    0   0    0     0     0   N/A   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                      0    0   0    0     0     0   N/A   N/A    0
 Poor                                              1    1   1    1     1     1   N/A   N/A    6
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    0   0    0     0     0   N/A   N/A    0


Standard 1. STUDENT ASSESSMENT: For the period of time under examination, district and
building administrators carefully administered statewide assessments and teachers regularly
assessed the performance of their students relative to state and local student performance
standards, and analyzed aggregate and individual assessment results to improve curricula,
instructional practices, and supplementary and remedial programs.


Preliminary Finding(s):
   During the review period, due to budget restrictions the district did not regularly administer
    standardized tests, other than the MCAS test.
    .




                                                   36
   Indicators:
1. The district utilized assessment policies and practices that resulted in the formal, regular
   evaluation of student assessment results.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Interviewees and documentation submitted to the EQA indicated that, during the
   review period, the district had practices and procedures in place that resulted in the regular
   evaluation of student assessment data. While the primary assessment tool of the district was the
   MCAS test, the district regularly administered other testing assessments, such as the
   Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), the Grade 7 Orleans-Hanna Algebra Prognosis
   Test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test (ASVAB), the PSAT, and the SAT. The
   district also utilized pre- and post-testing of math skills, and elementary schools used portfolios
   to track writing skills. District officials also stated that high participation rates in MCAS testing
   were directly related to high rates of student attendance at all levels. From 2001-2004, the
   district's attendance rate averaged 96.5 percent. For 2004, the district met its target participation
   rate in ELA and math for all student groups.


2. In order to improve achievement for all students, the district used aggregated and disaggregated
   assessment scores to assess student progress for all populations. Student performance has
   improved across all subgroups.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district used aggregate and disaggregated assessment
   scores to assess student progress for all groups. Proficiency Index (PI) trend data indicated that
   student performance improved in the aggregate, and for all subgroups. In 2001-2004, PI figures
   rose from 83.3 to 89.3 in ELA, and from 71.4 to 77.3 in math. From 2002 -2004, PI figures for
   disabled students rose from 65.7 to 72.4 in ELA, and from 41.6 to 54.6 in math. During that
   period, the PI of students eligible for free or reduced lunch (FRL/Y), rose from 68.1 to 85.5 in
   ELA, and from 60.3 to 72.9 in math. While all district subgroups improved test scores and PI,
   disabled students gained at a lower rate than the full student population.




                                                    37
   Administrators and teachers described procedures and practices. MCAS test data, when the
   district received it, was analyzed, and a consultant disaggregated some of it prior to sending it to
   the principals. During the review period, a number of district staff, including administrators,
   team leaders, and lead teachers, were trained in the use of TestWiz. High school lead teachers
   with content strands and specific questions regarding positive and negative scores distributed
   disaggregated MCAS test results to high school teachers. The district‟s principals were charged
   with the responsibility for MCAS test analysis and consequent curriculum modification after the
   district eliminated curriculum coordinators in 2002, due to budget restrictions.


   The elementary and middle schools, after receiving scores from the superintendent, distributed
   results to math and ELA MCAS test focus groups at each tested grade level. The focus groups
   analyzed scores, which were previously disaggregated, in order to highlight students‟ strengths
   and weaknesses.


3. District and building administrators carefully and accurately implemented the “Principles of Test
   Administration” in their jurisdictions and provided complete and accurate information on student
   status and participation in accordance with the “Principles” in the administration of the MCAS
   test and system-wide tests.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: District administrators, during the review period, carefully and accurately
   implemented the “Principles of Test Administration.” District administrators stated that the vice
   principal directed the MCAS test administration at the high school. The vice principal received
   and secured test booklets and other materials, scheduled testing sessions, and planned the
   logistics of test site location. The vice principal conducted the pre-test meetings with the teacher-
   proctors. During the review period, the high school principal, vice principal, director of special
   education, and guidance personnel attended Department of Education (DOE) workshops on the
   MCAS test administration.


   Elementary school principals were responsible for MCAS administration in conformity to the
   “Principles of Test Administration.” At the middle school, the principal was responsible for the



                                                    38
   administration of the MCAS test. The middle school principal attended DOE-sponsored MCAS
   workshops during the review period.


4. In addition to the MCAS, the district regularly employed the use of standardized tests, local
   benchmarks, or other assessments to measure the progress of all student populations at regular
   intervals and used these results to measure the effectiveness of achieving district objectives for
   student learning.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: During the review period, the district did not regularly employ standardized tests,
   other than the MCAS test, to measure the progress of all student groups. District officials stated
   that after 2002, budget constraints led to the elimination of other standardized tests, such as the
   Stanford assessment, which the district previously administered. Administrators described other
   sources of information regarding student achievement that the district and its teachers used to
   measure students‟ progress. The DRA was used to profile grades K-3 student performance and to
   screen for the Reading Recovery program. All Grade 7 middle school students were assessed for
   reading skill level. The Stanford 9 was administered to all students entering the high school. The
   high school also employed identical term and final examinations for each subject by grouping
   level, enabling a review of discrepancies in results between similar course sections.


   Writing samples from all students at all school levels were read, assessed according to common
   rubrics, and assembled in order to establish local writing benchmarks. The district curriculum
   coordinators established writing benchmarks by the 2002 academic year; however, these
   positions were eliminated in the subsequent years. Writing Across the Curriculum was initiated
   at the high school in 2002 and also at the middle school since 1995. Teachers at the middle
   school were trained in teaching writing in all curricular disciplines. Teachers stated that some
   high school teachers practiced this writing curriculum program to varying degrees, but not
   systematically. However, teachers said that they used the system-wide writing rubrics routinely
   at all schools.




                                                   39
5. The district engaged in a formal, documented annual review of student assessment data to
   reallocate staff and prioritize resource distribution to improve achievement for all student
   populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: While the district regularly reviewed assessment data, no formal procedure guided
   staff assignments; however, there was a practice of examining test data to inform staff
   reallocation. District administrators stated that the high school teachers did routinely receive
   class, course and section assignments that reflected a variety of grouping or achievement levels.
   For the review period, resources that were restricted due to budget constraints were redirected
   based on MCAS test needs. Administrators distributed student achievement data connected to
   academic support and special education instructional support programs.


6. The district and each of its schools disseminated assessment analyses to appropriate staff at
   regular intervals.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district and each of its schools disseminated assessment analyses to appropriate
   staff at regular intervals. District administrators and teachers stated that a consultant
   disaggregated data for all schools during the review period. The elementary teachers formed
   grade-level teams for the purpose of item analyses that focused on weak responses by students.
   Staff used early morning faculty meeting times and scheduled release times to examine results
   and propose modifications to units of study.


   In the middle school, all teachers examined MCAS test data in order to identify weak results in
   specific curriculum content strands. All middle school teachers participated in this endeavor,
   during scheduled common meeting times, faculty meetings, and unscheduled meetings of
   teachers.


   Principals stated that since the reduction in force that eliminated district curriculum coordinators‟
   positions in 2002, they assumed the leadership of the dissemination of assessment data in their



                                                    40
   buildings and in the district as a whole. School committee members said that building principals
   regularly made presentations to the committee, briefing them on MCAS test assessment results.


7. Assessment trend data indicated that classroom assessment standards, practices, and expectations
   for students were consistently linked with the learning standards articulated in the State
   Curriculum Frameworks.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district‟s assessment trend data was positive during the review period. A review
   of documents and interviews with administrators and teachers indicated that the district was
   aligned with the curriculum frameworks. The district‟s assessment procedures as employed by
   each school focused on particular test items. According to all personnel interviewed, the results
   led to modifications of curriculum strands content, to changes in content sequences in both math
   and ELA, and to academic support activities. Teachers, as well as administrators, stated that the
   district focused on academic progress in terms of the state's assessment program. All teachers in
   one focus group agreed with one person‟s statement that, “the MCAS test was everything.”



   Standard 2. PARTICIPATION: For the period of time under examination, the district and all
   of its schools had policies, procedures, and practices that met federal and state participation and
   attendance standards. Data on participation in state and local tests were monitored and assessed
   to ensure participation and opportunity for all students and all subgroups.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      The district had assessment and school attendance practices and policies in place, and MCAS
       test participation and school attendance exceeded required standards.

   Indicators:
1. The district and each of its schools had clear management systems in use that required all
   students to participate in all mandatory and appropriate assessments that resulted in a two- or
   three-year average participation rate of 95% in the state assessment.
   Rating: Satisfactory




                                                   41
   Evidence: In 2003 and 2004, the district met the participation targets in ELA and math in the
   aggregate and for all subgroups, and in 2004, participation in the MCAS ELA, math, and science
   subtests was between 98 and 99 percent, according to DOE data. According to information
   provided to the EQA, school principals were responsible for ensuring attendance at the MCAS
   test administrations, and interviewees provided information to the EQA regarding practices in
   place which fostered student participation. Classroom teachers met with students and parents
   concerning the importance of participating in the MCAS test. The elementary schools sent a
   letter to the parents regarding the MCAS test three weeks prior to test administration. Weekly
   newsletters reinforced the importance of participation. At the high and middle schools,
   administrators sent newsletters eight times a year which included information on the importance
   of MCAS testing and participation. According to documents reviewed by the EQA, procedures
   for scheduling and monitoring make-up tests were in place in the schools.


2. The district and each of its schools had systems in use that required all students to participate in
   district and school-based assessment programs or benchmarks.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: Besides the MCAS test, during the review period, the district administered several
   assessments, although interviewees indicated that assessments were limited due to budget
   restrictions, as well as a district-wide focus on building construction and renovation. For
   example, the Stanford assessment was eliminated in 2002 due to budget restrictions. At the
   elementary level, the Developmental Reading Assessment was used to track student performance
   in grades K-3. At the middle school, the MCAS test and a Grade 7 reading assessment were in
   place. At the high school, department tests were administered throughout the year, as well as the
   PSAT, the SAT, the Stanford 9, and the Reading Workshop. District administrators and teachers
   followed procedures similar to those employed with the MCAS test, particularly for the PSAT
   and the SAT, to ensure student participation in assessments. Interviewees indicated that no major
   problems were associated with participation in non-MCAS test assessments, because the
   assessment was performed, for the most part, on an individual basis.




                                                    42
3. The district maintained clear and accurate records on student waivers for LEP and ALT status for
   MCAS assessment.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: DOE data and interviews with district administrators indicated that no limited English
   proficient (LEP) students were enrolled in the district during the review period. Although the
   district‟s special education rate was 18.2 percent in 2003-2004, alternative assessments were
   seldom used during the review period. Interviewees estimated three alternative (ALT)
   assessments were perfomed, and teachers were provided training through the DOE in conducting
   the aternative MCAS test assessment.


4. The district and each of its schools had clear management systems in place that required all
   students to attend school, and these systems were actively implemented and resulted in a student
   attendance rate of 93% or higher.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Between 2001 and 2004, student attendance rates ranged between 96 and 96.6
   percent, and school handbooks described attendance policies. The district‟s chronic absenteeism
   rate ranged between 5.8 and 6.8 percent of students during the review period. In 2004, students
   missed 6.8 days of school on average. According to documents and interviews with
   administrators, procedures were in place in the schools to ensure high attendance rates. The
   district maintained attendance daily through its computer system, which was linked to each
   school, and contained data on suspensions, expulsions, and dropouts.


   Interviewees described procedures employed in the district to monitor student absences, and
   interviewees stated the district focused on attendance. Administrators called the students‟ homes
   when they were absent, and school handbooks reinforced and detailed the consequences of
   absenteeism. Interviewees also stated that the implementation of a block schedule at the high
   school improved attendance. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) also emphasized attendance.




                                                  43
5. The district and its schools had and enforced, when necessary, clear consequences for students
   with chronic absenteeism.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district‟s chronic absenteeism rate ranged between 5.8 and 6.8 percent during the
   review period. In 2004, on average, a student missed 6.8 days of school. Students who were
   chronically absent faced consequences during the review period. District expectations were high,
   and consequences were detailed in the student handbooks. Consequences for trauncy at the high
   school included possible loss of credit, detention, parent contact, notification of the truant
   officer, and court action. The director of special education tracked all absences of special
   education students, and perfomed a functional behavior assessment when needed.


6. The district maintained and used accurate records on attendance, suspensions, discipline, and
   dropouts by student subgroup populations and frequently analyzed these records to improve
   participation, involvement, and achievement for all students.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: School handbooks and school committee policies detailed policies, practices, and
   procedures pertaining to attendance, suspensions, discipline, and dropouts.           Interviewees
   indicated and document analyses confirmed that the policies and procedures were implemented
   at all schools during the review period. The district maintained data on a central computer system
   linked to the schools. The district reviewed data periodically, according to interviewees, and took
   appropriate action as determined by district and school policy. At a weekly meeting,
   administrative support staff reviewed the status of at-risk students.


   Between 2001 and 2004, student attendance rates ranged between 96 and 96.6 percent, and
   school handbooks described attendance policies. In-school suspension rates ranged between 1.9
   and 4.6 percent during the review period, which, for the most part, was below the state average
   of 4.5 percent. State in-school suspension rates ranged for the same time period ranged between
   4.6 and 4.9 percent. Out-of-school suspension rates ranged between 0.1 and 2.3 percent, while
   the state rate ranged between 6.1 and 6.4 percent between 2001 and 2004. The district's student



                                                    44
   retention rate ranged between 0.7 and 1.2 percent, while the state rate ranged between 2.5 and
   2.6 percent. The district‟s dropout rate of 2.7 percent in 2003 was below the state rate of 3.3
   percent for the same year.


7. The district maintained and used clear and accurate program and individual records of all English
   language learners (ELLs) during the period under examination.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: DOE data provided to the EQA, as well as interviews with district personnel,
   indicated no ELL students were enrolled in the district during the review period. The district was
   cited in a Coordinated Program Review (CPR) in 2000 for having no district-wide policies or
   procedures for the identification and evaluation of LEP students and families. In February of
   2001, the district submitted a corrective action plan to the DOE addressing the need for a district-
   wide policy cited in the CPR.


   The district assigned personnel to coordinate the English Language Learner (ELL) program and
   provided the EQA with a description of district ELL programs and services. This description
   detailed the procedures to be followed regarding the enrollment of ELL students in the district.

   Standard 3. EVALUATION PROCESS/PERSONNEL: For the period of time under
   examination, the district used student assessment data in its development, implementation,
   evaluation, and analysis of school and district personnel. The evaluation process focused on
   accountability for administrators, teachers, and instructional support staff, and one of the goals of
   the process was the improvement of achievement for all students.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      Within staff performance evaluations, district administrators and teachers were not held
       accountable for student achievement results.

      Administrator and teacher evaluations were not compliant with Chapter 71, section 38 and
       CMR 603 35.00.




                                                    45
   Indicators:
1. The district and each of its schools implemented systems for the evaluation of personnel
   performance that were linked to student achievement data and resulted in sustained or continued
   improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: A review of evaluation procedures included in the collective bargaining agreement,
   sample evaluations, and interviews with district personnel indicated that, for the review period,
   evaluation procedures for teachers and administrators were in place in the district; however, they
   were not connected to student achievement data. Interviewees described a four-year cycle
   process for teachers and an annual process for administrative personnel. Both procedures
   included goal-setting and performance standards. Teachers and administrators indicated they
   were reviewed in compliance with the established district practice; however, for the most part,
   the evaluations of teachers and administrators reviewed by the EQA team were not in
   compliance with statute and regulation, in that they were not timely, teacher personnel files did
   not include summative evaluations every other year, and administrative evaluations were not
   performed annually.


2. The district utilized evaluation procedures for administrators that were aligned with the
   requirements of the MGL Chapter 71, §38 and 603 CMR 35.00.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory

   Evidence: The EQA team reviewed the personnel files of eleven administrators, including the
   present and prior superintendents. None of the administrator evaluations were performed
   annually, as required by statute. One was a new administrator and no evaluation was required.
   Four had no evaluations in the personnel file for the review period. Six files contained one to two
   evaluations during the review period. Most did not follow the “Principles of Effective
   Administrative Leadership.”




                                                   46
3. The form and content of the district‟s evaluation process for administrators was informative,
   instructive, and used to promote individual professional growth and overall effectiveness.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: The majority of the evaluations in the administrators‟ personnel files reviewed by the
   EQA team did include informative data, but most were not prescriptive, in that they were not
   instructive and did not include recommendations. Most did not follow the “Principles of
   Effective Administrative Leadership” evaluation tool.


4. Administrators in the district were held accountable for student assessment results in their yearly
   evaluations.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: The EQA team reviewed the personnel files of 11 administrators. According to
   interviewees and a review of the evaluations included in administrator personnel files for the
   review period, administrators were not held accountable for student assessment results in their
   evaluations. Interviewees also stated that while goals were set for administrators, student
   performance goals were not included.


5. The district utilized an evaluation procedure for teachers that was aligned with the requirements
   of the MGL Chapter 71, §38 and 603 CMR 35.00.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: While interviewees stated they were evaluated in compliance with their contract, an
   examination by the EQA team of a random sample of approximately 20 percent of professional
   status teacher evaluations indicated that, in practice, they were not aligned with the requirements
   of statute and regulation.


   The EQA team reviewed the personnel files of 28 professional status teachers. All but two of the
   evaluations were not timely for the review period, in that many files did not include the
   appropriate number or summative evaluations that were expected for teachers with professional



                                                    47
   status. Approximately 10 personnel files included no evaluations for the review period. Of the
   evaluations included in the personnel files for the review period, most were not summative. Most
   evaluations observed did not follow the “Principles of Effective Teaching” as an evaluation tool.


6. The form and content of the district‟s evaluation process for teachers was informative, instructive,
   and used to provide professional development offerings that promoted individual growth and
   effectiveness.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: While many of the teacher evaluations reviewed by the EQA team included
   informative data, most were not instructive, in that they were not summative and only a few
   contained recommendations. Teacher evaluations were mostly formative, in that they were
   oriented toward classroom observations and projects, and were not summative. This activity was
   in line with the evaluation practice in place in the district.


7. Teachers in the district were held accountable for student assessment results in their respective
   schools and classrooms. These results were cited in the evaluation process.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory

   Evidence: Teacher evaluations reviewed by the EQA team showed that teachers were not held
   accountable in their evaluations for student assessment results. According to interviewees,
   student assessment data were not formally used in the teacher evaluation process. However,
   administrators indicated they looked for warning signs and reviewed the failure rates of students.
   According to interviewees, this type of information, along with classroom observations, was part
   of the evaluation process.


8. When evaluations were not satisfactory, after following due process, the district had and applied
   consequences for compensation, advancement, or employment.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: None of the administrator or teacher evaluations reviewed by the EQA team was
   unsatisfactory. A grievance process was included in the collective bargaining agreement for


                                                      48
   teachers. According to interviewees, no professional-status teachers or administrators were
   terminated during the review period and only one or two were put on improvement plans.
   However, the district did not re-hire approximately eight non-professional status teachers as a
   result of poor performance. Teacher compensation and re-employment were connected to
   negotiated collective bargaining agreements, and raises could be withheld due to low
   performance.


   Standard 4. EVALUATION PROCESS/PROGRAMS, SERVICES, AND RESOURCE
   ACQUISITION: For the period of time under examination, the district used student assessment
   data in its development, implementation, evaluation and analysis of programs, services, and
   resource acquisition. The evaluation process focused on accountability for administrators,
   teachers, and staff, and one of the goals of the process was the improvement of achievement for
   all students.


   Preliminary Finding(s):
      The district infrequently performed data-driven analysis of the effectiveness of programs in
       place during the review period.

      The district‟s decision to allocate funds to compensate staff during a time of budget
       restrictions limited its implementation and evaluation of programs, and its acquisition of
       resources.

   Indicators:
1. The district and each of its schools implemented a data-driven system for the evaluation of
   programs and services, and resource acquisition that was linked to student achievement data.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: During the review period, due to budget restrictions, the district implemented a
   limited number of programs and services, and acquired few resources. At the same time,
   however, there was a $35 million building and renovation project which was completed during
   the review period.




                                                  49
   For those programs and services which did exist, there was little evidence at the district or school
   level of systematic procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of programs, services, and resource
   acquisitions in terms of their impact on student achievement. The Reading Recovery program
   was evaluated in compliance with Title I regulations. The after-school MCAS math test program
   received the evaluation required after the expenditure of academic support grant funds. However,
   interviewees indicated that program implementation and resource acquisition evaluations were
   seldom linked to academic performance.


2. District and school administrators used student assessment and other pertinent data to measure the
   effectiveness of the district‟s instructional, supplemental, and support programs and services.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: Title I funds were utilized, for the most part, to support Reading Recovery. This
   program was introduced into the Grade 1 at an elementary school in Ashburnham in school year
   2001-2002 and in an elementary school in Westminster in school year 2002-2003. This program
   was adopted to address the large number of primary school students being referred for special
   education services. Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) scores indicated that students
   who had received Reading Recovery support were more proficient readers. In addition, the
   students who participated in Reading Recovery in Ashburnham in school year 2001-2002 were
   Grade 3 students in school year 2003-2004 and took the Grade 3 MCAS test. Data compiled by
   the teacher when Grade 3 MCAS results were received in the spring of 2004 indicated that none
   of the students who received Reading Recovery support in school year 2001-2002 failed the
   Grade 3 MCAS test. In fact, nine out of 12 scored at the proficiency level.


   During the first two years of the review period, MCAS grant funds were used to support an after-
   school math program for students at risk of failing the MCAS test. This program was evaluated
   through the use of pre- and post-tests, as required by the grant. No connection was made to the
   scores of participating students on later administrations of MCAS math assessments.


   Teachers and administrators reported growing dissatisfaction with the TERC Investigations math
   program, and they pointed to the MCAS test math scores, which were considerably lower than



                                                   50
   the MCAS test reading and ELA results, as evidence that the program was not working.
   However, there was no systematic attempt to correlate the program with the state curriculum
   frameworks in order to connect the use of Investigations as the reason students were scoring
   lower on math MCAS tests.


   The special education department offered the Wilson Reading Program at all levels. No
   evaluation was conducted to relate participation in this program with improved student
   achievement. The district also introduced John Collins Writing and Four Square Writing during
   the review period, and administrators attributed the improvement in long composition scores to
   these writing strategies.


   In interviews, administrators and teachers did not recall acquiring resources during the review
   period. In fact, they pointed to the lack of pencils and paper at that time. The district‟s priority
   during the period of budget restraint had been to preserve staff at the expense of purchasing
   resources.


3. The evaluation results of the district‟s instructional, supplemental, and support programs and
   services were used to inform decision making and resulted in sustained or continued
   improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district‟s teachers were committed to student learning, and adjusted curricula to
   improve student achievement, according to interviewees. However, student achievement gains
   could not be attributed to the use of the district‟s instructional, supplemental, and support
   program evaluations.


   The spring 2004 teachers‟ report on the Grade 3 MCAS test success of students who had
   received Reading Recovery support in Grade 1 was one of the few program evaluations
   available. Teachers had been using DRA results as a guide to individual Reading Recovery
   students‟ continued mastery of reading skills.




                                                    51
   Also, since administrators and teachers attributed improvements in students‟ MCAS writing
   scores to the use of John Collins Writing strategies, the district offered a John Collins refresher
   course. However, administrators did not conduct data analysis to link John Collins Writing
   strategies to improved writing scores.


   The district was also committed to Skillful Teacher. Although the district performed no formal
   evaluation of the instructional outcomes from the participation of teachers in Skillful Teacher,
   the district offered another section for those hired since the initial teacher training and for those
   seeking a refresher course.


4. District and school administrators used student assessment and other pertinent data to measure the
   effectiveness of acquired resources, including capital improvements and projects, equipment,
   materials, and supplies.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: During the review period, funds from the budget were utilized for staff rather than to
   acquire resources, according to interviewees. Even given the priority of saving staff, a number of
   teacher positions were eliminated due to budget restrictions during the review period.


   Acquisition of resources was limited. The middle school math textbooks had copyrights from the
   1980s, but the district continued using them. School visits and interviewees indicated that
   although technology at the middle school and one of the elementary schools was inadequate, the
   equipment was not replaced. Supplies like paper and pencils were not available during the period
   of budget restrictions. The district did not have a capital plan, so it could not evaluate the impact
   of capital improvements on student achievement.


5. The results of the district‟s evaluation of acquired resources, including capital improvements and
   projects, equipment, materials, and supplies, were used to inform decision making and resulted
   in sustained or continued improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.
   Rating: Poor




                                                    52
   Evidence: The district did not systematically evaluate acquired resources, which were minimal.
   The district did not establish a link between improvements in the quality of teaching and
   learning, and resource acquisition.


6. When evaluations indicated that programs, services, and resource acquisition were not effective
   and efficient, the district made appropriate modifications and/or changes.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: Only one of the programs in place during the review period was under consideration
   for replacement or changes. Interviewees indicated that teachers thought that the Investigations
   math program was not effective, and this provided the impetus for piloting an elementary math
   text during the school year 2004-2005. However, teachers‟ dissatisfaction with Investigations
   was connected to the district having never provided the full complement of teacher training
   which the Investigations program required. There was also no data-driven analysis of the
   effectiveness of the Investigations program.




                                                   53
                              Domain B: Curriculum and Instruction

 Standards              Indicators       1        2   3   4    5    6   7    8     9    Total
Domain B - Curriculum & Instruction
S5 - Curriculum
 Excellent                                   0        0   0   0   N/A   0   0    0    N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                1        1   1   1   N/A   0   1    1    N/A    6
 Poor                                        0        0   0   0   N/A   1   0    0    N/A    1
 Unsatisfactory                              0        0   0   0   N/A   0   0    0    N/A    0
S6 - Instruction: Expectations & Policies
 Excellent                                   0        0   0   0    0    0   0    0     0     0
 Satisfactory                                1        1   1   0    0    1   1    0     1     6
 Poor                                        0        0   0   1    1    0   0    1     0     3
 Unsatisfactory                              0        0   0   0    0    0   0    0     0     0
S7 - Opportunity & Access To Quality
Education Programs
 Excellent                                   0        0   0   0    0    0   0    0    N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                1        1   1   1    1    1   1    1    N/A    8
 Poor                                        0        0   0   0    0    0   0    0    N/A    0
 Unsatisfactory                              0        0   0   0    0    0   0    0    N/A    0
S8 - Professional Development & Training
 Excellent                                   0        0   0   0    0    0   0   N/A   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                                0        0   0   0    0    0   0   N/A   N/A    0
 Poor                                        0        0   1   1    1    1   1   N/A   N/A    5
 Unsatisfactory                              1        1   0   0    0    0   0   N/A   N/A    2


Standard 5. CURRICULUM: For the period of time under examination, the district, each of its
schools, and programs utilized curricula that were aligned with the State Curriculum
Frameworks in the core academic subjects of English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics,
science and technology (and other tested core academic subjects as added). The curricula were
current, academically sound, and clearly understood by all who administered and taught in the
district.

Preliminary Finding(s):
   In the absence of district-wide coordination of curriculum, horizontal alignment between
    elementary schools, and vertical alignment from elementary to middle and middle to high
    school was minimal.




                                                 54
   Indicators:
1. The district had written curricula for all grade levels and tested core content areas that were
   clearly aligned with the State Curriculum Frameworks.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District had written curricula in ELA
   and math for grades 1-12, and that curriculum was aligned with state standards. The school
   district had curriculum coordinators in place for one year of the period under review, and during
   that time curricula were completed and implemented in English, math, social studies, and
   science. Elements included in the district curriculum documents were state framework
   references, skills, learning outcomes, experiences, activities, resources, and assessment.


   The curriculum coordinator positions were eliminated at the end of the 2001-2002 school year;
   however, teachers continued to follow the curriculum as it was written. For the 2002-2003 and
   2003-2004 school years, curriculum oversight was the responsibility of the individual schools.
   The high school curriculum was completely revised and realigned during the 2003-2004 school
   year in preparation for the 10-year New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
   reaccredidation visit.

2. Each school in the district had a curriculum leader to oversee the use, alignment, quality,
   currency, and consistency of the district‟s curricula.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the period under review, the curriculum leader in each school was the
   principal. In addition, each school had an MCAS test focus group charged with curriculum
   oversight as it related to MCAS test results.


   Principals agreed that when curriculum coordinators were in place and providing centralized
   support during the school year 2001-2002, their responsibilities as school curriculum
   coordinators were manageable. However, during the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years, as




                                                    55
   district and school staffing restrictions occurred, curriculum oversight became more challenging
   for principals.


   Despite budget constraints, the high school principal oversaw the revision of all curricula in
   2003-2004 as part of the NEASC Self-Study. In all schools, principals continued to oversee the
   review of the curriculum with the use of the MCAS test results.

3. The district had an established, documented process that involved teachers in the annual review
   and/or revision of curricula based on the analyses of results of standardized tests.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Elementary, middle, and high school teachers were involved in the annual review and
   revision of curricula based on the analysis of MCAS test results. According to principals, they
   conducted some initial analysis of the results using TestWiz. The test results and analysis were
   then distributed to classroom teachers. Teachers reviewed the test results at the elementary level
   during their common planning time; at the middle school level, during team planning time,
   faculty meetings, and workshops; and at the high school, during department meetings. In the
   school year 2003-2004, teachers at both elementary schools began reviewing results together to
   broaden their perspective on elementary student achievement.


   Curriculum adjustments resulted from the regular review of MCAS test scores. For example, at
   the high school, the English department adopted a rubric for scoring writing samples, and,
   according to teachers, this rubric was later adopted and used in departments across the school.
   Also, a concern developed across the district that the science curriculum did not include
   coverage of the solar system. As a result, teachers reached agreement that it would be taught at
   the elementary level. In the middle school, results showed that students were not performing well
   on open-response questions. The principal hired a consultant to address preparing students to
   answer these questions, and school-wide open response questions were developed. In focus
   groups, both teachers and administrators agreed that teacher action drove the revision of
   curriculum in response to MCAS test results.




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4. The results of student assessment data (i.e., longitudinal, demographic, disaggregated,
   diagnostic, and/or surveys) indicated that the district implemented an established process to
   ensure the scope, sequence, and alignment of learning goals, competencies, and expectations
   from one grade to the next in grades K-12 in ELA, mathematics, science and technology (and
   other tested core academic subjects as added).
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During school year 2001-2002, when the curriculum coordinators were still in place,
   the district ensured the implementation of a scope and sequence between grades and from the
   elementary to middle to high school levels. With the elimination of curriculum coordinator
   positions in 2002-2003, district-wide oversight of the scope and sequence between elementary,
   middle, and high school levels was no longer in place. As a result, there was little coordination of
   the vertical alignment of the curriculum.


   The MCAS test longitudinal data indicated that student achievement increased between 2001 and
   2004. The percentage of students scoring in the „Advanced‟ and „Proficient‟ categories on the
   MCAS test in 2004 was eight percentage points higher than in 2001. In addition, the percentage
   of students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟ category on MCAS testing in 2004 was four
   percentage points lower than in 2001. At the same time, an analysis of the subgroup data
   indicated that less than one-third of students with disabilities attained proficiency on the 2004
   MCAS tests. This was lower than that of regular education students in the district.


5. The district‟s curricula in all tested content areas were aligned horizontally to ensure that all
   teachers of a common grade level addressed specific subject matter following the same time line,
   and vertically to ensure complete coverage, eliminate redundancies, and close any gaps.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: As cited, there was no district-wide coordination of curriculum, so curriculum
   alignment occurred within schools but not across schools in the district. Elementary
   administrators agreed that they did not know if there was horizontal alignment of curriculum
   between the two elementary schools. In addition, while vertical alignment was strong within



                                                    57
   schools, lack of horizontal alignment of curriculum was problematic since all students
   transitioned into one middle school.


   At the elementary level, the principals agreed that there was strong horizontal alignment of
   curriculum between classrooms of the same grade, within each school. Principals and teachers
   indicated that this alignment was the result of teacher use of common planning time to
   coordinate curriculum pacing. At the middle school, team and department planning ensured
   horizontal alignment of the ELA and math curricula. At the high school, an annual review of
   curriculum and common examinations in all content areas with the exception of English assured
   horizontal alignment at the secondary level.


6. Modifications to the curriculum resulted in improved, equitable achievement for all student
   populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Modifications to the curriculum did occur and did result in improved achievement for
   all students. In ELA the Proficiency Index (PI) increased from 83.3 in 2001 to 89.3 in 2004. In
   math, the PI increased from 71.4 in 2001 to 77.3 in 2004. In 2002, 66.1 percent of students
   scored in the „Proficient‟ and „Advanced‟ categories in ELA, which rose to 69.7 percent in 2004.
   In math, 45.8 percent of students scored in the „Proficient‟ and „Advanced‟ categories in 2002,
   and 51.3 percent scored in the „Proficient‟ category in 2004.


   In 2004, the performance gap between the ELA PI of regular education and disabled students
   was 21.3 PI points. In math, the subgroup gap was 27.3 points. However, in 2004, while learning
   disabled students did not meet their performance target for ELA or math, they did meet their
   improvement target for both.


7. Staffing levels were adequate to deliver the district‟s curriculum to all students, as indicated by
   equitable rates of improvement for all student populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory




                                                   58
   Evidence: Despite serious budget restrictions and staff reductions during the 2002-2003 and
   2003-2004 school years, student achievement in ELA and math improved steadily. Average
   student scores in the district were regularly above the state averages. The priority during the
   difficult budget times was to keep the academic program strong.


   Staff was eliminated as a result of budget restrictions during the review period. Other
   programmatic reductions also occurred as a result of budget restrictions. For example, at the high
   school, the family and consumer science department was eliminated, and elective courses were
   reduced. At the middle school, in order to retain the interdisciplinary team concept, average class
   sizes on teams ranged from the high 20s to the low 30s. Also, at one elementary school in Grade
   5, the teacher to student ratio rose to 1 to 30. In addition, the district-wide curriculum coordinator
   positions were eliminated.


8. The district established practices that adequately provisioned for and supported the curriculum
   and its overall effectiveness in all assessed subject areas and all levels.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: During 2001-2002, written curriculum was in place that was aligned with the state
   curriculum frameworks. When serious budget shortfalls called for cuts in 2002-2003 and 2003-
   2004, the district had a solid curriculum base from which to build. The loss of the district-wide
   curriculum coordinators meant that oversight of the sequencing of the curriculum from
   elementary to middle to high school was absent. However, the district did have in place
   established practices involving grade level, team, and department planning time. Teachers at all
   levels were accustomed to the regular use of planning time for curriculum coordination. These
   practices established across the district meant that the curriculum was maintained and adjusted
   within individual schools. However, after these cutbacks, there was little oversight provided for
   revision of curriculum.




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   Standard 6. INSTRUCTION: EXPECTATIONS AND POLICIES: For the period of time
   under examination, the district used the analysis of student achievement data to develop policies
   and documents that expressed high expectations for student achievement and clear expectations
   for staff in the use of effective instructional methods strategies and practices to teach all students.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      Administrators lost an important opportunity to provide instructional leadership by failing to
       complete the elements of the four-year teacher evaluation cycle.

      During the period under review, professional development opportunities were limited as a
       result of budget restrictions.

      Educational technology was not equitably available across the district. Although recently
       renovated schools were well equipped, other schools were not.

   Indicators:
1. The district had policies in place that expressed rigorous/high expectations for teachers, their
   work as professional educators, and the effectiveness of the instructional process.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The school district policy handbook listed “Underlying Beliefs That Guide All
   Decisions Made in the District,” which was published in the school district policy handbook. A
   number of the “beliefs” expressed high expectations for teachers and their work. In addition, the
   handbook stated: “Children are our most valued asset to be nurtured, challenged and developed
   to their fullest capacity by academic/co-curricula programs.”


   In the regional school district goal statements, the school committee stated: “The school
   committee, administration, teachers and support staff have the knowledge and skills to provide
   our students with a comprehensive education.” Another goal reinforced academic expectations
   with the following statement: “Our students‟ achievement continually improves through
   research-based educational practices and strategies.”




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2. The district expected that teachers used current assessment information to plan instruction and
   provided teachers with support and training in this process. MCAS and other trend data indicated
   that the district‟s practices, provisioning, and support for the instructional program were
   sufficient, as indicated in student achievement that consistently equaled or surpassed the state
   averages across grade levels.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Principals at all levels reported that each teacher received relevant assessment
   information as well as some data analysis of results. While the district had not offered teachers
   formal training in further analysis of assessment results, analysis of data by focus groups, grade
   level, interdisciplinary, and department teams was an established process. As a result, teachers
   developed analysis skills on their own and with one another in order to analyze the MCAS test
   data.


   In other areas, the district and individual schools had provided limited instructional support for
   its teachers. For example, John Collins Writing was introduced through only a day and a half of
   training. The district provided in-service training on answering open-ended response questions.


   According to interviewees, some teachers voiced dissatisfaction with the continued use of the
   Investigations math program since the late 1990s at the elementary level. However, students in
   the district had achieved at rates consistently higher than those across the state.


3. Instructional time in each assessed content area met or exceeded state requirements in each
   subject area and at each level.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: At the elementary level, students in grades K-3 received 90 minutes of ELA
   instruction, and students in grades 4 and 5 received a 65–70 minute ELA block. Elementary
   students in grades K–5 received 45 minutes of math instruction each day.




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   Middle school students had a 50–60 minute ELA block and a 50–60 minute math block each
   day. At the high school level, students received an 83-minute ELA block for one semester each
   year. The same was true of math, although some students took more than one math block each
   year.


4. The district provided instructional leadership and support for strategies, techniques, and methods
   that resulted in improved student achievement.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: During interviews, school administrators at all levels stated that they were unable, due
   to time constraints, to implement the teacher evaluation process in a four-year cycle. According
   to the teacher contract, the four-year cycle consisted of: one year for formal evaluation, one or
   two project years, and one or two years of peer observation.


   As a result of budget restrictions during the review period, professional development consisted
   mainly of contractually supported courses which teachers attended for certification and salary
   scale advancement. Professional development opportunities on strategies, techniques, and
   methods were limited to one or two day workshops with little follow-up. Administrators reported
   they had little time for follow-up supervision in classrooms.


5. The district analyzed student achievement data and allocated instructional time in the tested core
   content areas that resulted in improved rates of proficiency for all students.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: According to administrative interviews, principals used TestWiz to provide some
   initial analysis of the MCAS test results. The results and the analysis were then provided to
   classroom teachers. At the elementary level, teachers reviewed the results during their common
   planning time; at the middle school they reviewed results during team planning time; and at the
   high school they reviewed results at department meetings. In 2003-2004, teachers at both
   elementary schools reviewed MCAS test results together to broaden their perspective on
   elementary student achievement.



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   There were improved rates of proficiency for regular education students and students on free and
   reduced lunch, and limited improvement in proficiency rates for students with disabilities.
   However, little was done during the period under review to reallocate instructional time at the
   elementary, middle, or high schools. Some high school students took additional math classes. At
   the high school, the reading workshop was not eliminated. As a result, at-risk Grade 9 students
   received an additional block of ELA instruction.


6. The district recognized the importance of instructional stability by not only maintaining accurate
   information on staff attendance but also by evaluating the effects of staff attendance on student
   achievement.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Each school maintained detailed information on staff attendance which was regularly
   submitted to the superintendent. An analysis of staff attendance information provided to the EQA
   indicated that the average number of days absent for teachers in the district when professional
   development days were not included, ranged by school from 4.6 days to 7.7. When professional
   development days were included, the range was from 6 days to 8.8. Principals reported no
   significant staff attendance issues.


7. The district and its schools had consequences, policies, and practices that addressed patterns of
   staff attendance and chronic staff absenteeism.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Although the teachers‟ labor contract did not specify that teachers were expected to
   provide a doctor‟s note after two days of absence, the contract language reads, “The
   superintendent at his discretion may require certification of illness or injury by a physician.”
   Principals did not recall concerns about teacher chronic absenteeism. According to principals,
   they would address these issues within their own buildings if a problem occurred. However,
   there was no formal policy to address chronic absenteeism of staff.




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8. Educational technology was available and used as an integral part of the instructional program.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: Educational technology was not an integral part of the instructional program. Data
   provided by the department of education indicated that the district ratio of students per computer
   was 3.5. During the review period, the capability and usefulness of available computers varied
   widely among the schools in the district. Recent renovations had provided the high school and
   one elementary school with updated wiring and computer laboratories. The renovated elementary
   school had five computers per classroom and one computer laboratory for the building. The high
   school had seven computer laboratories when the renovation was complete. However, the middle
   school, which had opened with state of the art technology 10 years ago, had only one updated
   computer laboratory. The remainder of middle school technology consisted of 10-year-old
   hardware that could not handle current software. The middle school had discontinued its use of
   Plato software because the out-of-date hardware could not handle it. Principals agreed that the
   other elementary school had the greatest technology needs. Principals also noted that technology
   support for the current hardware was inadequate. Administrators at the high school provided
   some technology support when they were able. Principals agreed that teachers in the buildings
   that had current technology needed more training in the updated uses of technology. In those
   buildings, principals estimated that only 35 percent to 45 percent of the teachers made use of the
   available technology.


9. Student achievement data indicated that the district provided effective instruction, programs, and
   services to all English language learners.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district had no ELL students. Responsibility for
   providing for an ELL student‟s education rested with the designated ELL coordinator. Written
   policies provided guidance for the district if an ELL student was enrolled.




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   Standard 7. OPPORTUNITY AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION PROGRAMS:
   For the period under examination, district and school policies, practices, procedures, and
   programs encouraged and supported equitable access to and participation in high quality
   educational programs for all students.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      As of February 2005, 98 percent of the class of 2005 earned a Competency Determination
       (CD).

   Indicators:
1. All of the students in the district graduated in their senior year. All senior students met or
   exceeded the state‟s Competency Determination.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: As of February 2005, data released by the DOE on Competency Determination
   showed that 98 percent of the 159 students of the class of 2005 earned a Competency
   Determination. As of February 2005, 151 students in the class of 2006 or 97 percent earned a
   Competency Determination.


2. The district had documented policies, practices, or procedures that addressed and supported
   students in transition from one level to another, one program to another, one school to another
   (intra district), and students entering the district after the start of school (inter district), tracked
   dropouts and maintained these data over time (3 years).
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: While the district did not have documented transitioning procedures, interviewees
   stated that practices were in place. The major transition points, according to interviewees and
   documentation provided to the EQA, were from pre-school to elementary, from elementary to
   middle school, and from middle school to high school. As part of the process, the intervention
   programs identified, as soon as possible, students with special needs. Orientations were provided
   for parents and students at all transition points. School tours were provided for students and
   special education individual education plans were reviewed by teachers at grade-level and team
   meetings. The high school special education staff reviewed the special education folders of


                                                     65
   transitioning students at individual team meetings. Resource teacher contact information was
   also provided to parents. Also, at the high school, guidance counselors met with students to
   preview the high school experience and discuss courses, and staff met with parents to review
   electives and recommend levels of study, such as college prep or honors. Administrators made
   presentations to incoming high school students and peer leaders, and student council members
   led school tours for transitioning students. According to information provided by the district, the
   high school also held meetings for parents and students on the college selection process.


   Students who transferred into the district during the school year were assessed upon entry into
   the school system. A representative of the guidance department met with the student and parents
   and obtained records from the sending school, including an official transcript, and a medical and
   discipline report. If the student needed special education services, the special education
   department was consulted. According to an interviewee, approximately 40 new students
   transitioned into the district annually.


   The district presented the EQA team with dropout data for the review period. In the school year
   2001-2002, five students dropped out; in 2002-2003, 19 students dropped out; and in 2003-2004,
   17 students dropped out. The guidance department tracked dropouts, but not formally. When a
   student decided to drop out, the school informed the parent, and met with the student and
   provided a packet of information regarding obtaining a GED, locations of adult education
   courses, a directory of support groups, where and how to search for employment opportunities, a
   job interview checklist, and a sample resume. The district also provided information on how to
   re-enter high school, but interviewees indicated re-entry did not occur often.


3. Disaggregated trend data (minimum of 3 years) indicated no significant differences or
   disproportionate rates of discipline referrals, retentions, suspensions, exclusion, or dropout rates
   among students of all subgroup populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Disaggregated three-year trend data indicated that the district‟s rates of suspensions,
   retentions, exclusions, dropouts or discipline referrals were lower than the state average.



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   According to DOE data provided to the EQA, the rate of in-school suspensions during the review
   period ranged from 3.1 to 1.9. During the same time period, the state rate ranged from 4.7 to 4.9.
   During the review period, the rate of out-of-school suspensions for the district ranged from 1.5 to
   0.1, while the state rate ranged from 6.4 to 6.2. District retention rates ranged from 0.7 to 1.2,
   while state rates ranged form 2.5 to 2.6 during the review period. Exclusion data were not
   statistically significant. District administrators indicated that disciplinary data were tracked
   closely in the district, particularly at the high school, where disciplinary information was entered
   into a database and reviewed by the district registrar.


   According to information provided by the district, discipline action related to special education
   students was reported to the director of special education “to ensure the district‟s schools follow
   state guidelines for this subgroup and provide information useful in re-evaluating student
   Individual Education Plans.”


4. The district used aggregated and disaggregated student achievement data on participation and
   achievement to adjust instruction and policies for populations at risk and evaluated the
   effectiveness of these adjustments.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district used aggregate and disaggregated achievement data and analysis to adjust
   instruction for populations at risk. Documents reviewed by the EQA showed that schools
   performed item analyses and hired a consultant to provide direction on the analysis of some
   MCAS test results. In addition, several district personnel were trained in TestWiz. Examples of
   students at risk in the district, according to interviewees, included students with academic and
   discipline problems, special education students, students who were retained, students with social
   problems, students who needed remediation, or students with substandard basic skills. Individual
   Student Success Plans (ISSPs) were developed for students, if necessary.


   Interviewees provided an example of the disaggregating of MCAS test math data which led to
   the modification of math instruction in the district. Also, the Developmental Reading Assessment
   (DRA) was used to assess the reading skills of students at risk at the elementary school,



                                                    67
   according to information provided to the EQA examiners. Students were assigned to the Reading
   Recovery program based on their DRA scores. All schools included participation and
   achievement data as part of the annual review of IEPs, according to interviewees.


   In 2003 and 2004, the district met AYP for ELA and math in the aggregate and for all subgroups.
   However, special education did not meet the AYP performance target in 2003 and 2004, and a
   review of 2004 MCAS test data indicated that 79 percent of students with disabilities scored in
   the „Needs Improvement‟ and „Warning/Failing‟ categories while 33 percent of the regular
   education students scored in the two lowest categories. The achievement gap between special
   education and regular education students was 46 percentage points.


5. Enrollment data indicated equitable participation in higher level, advanced, and AP-type courses
   in all assessed grade levels and programs.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: Interviews with district administrators and guidance staff revealed that students were
   offered higher level courses, such as honors and advanced placement (AP) at the high school.
   The enrollment process for admission to AP and honors courses was flexible and open. Talented
   students who expressed an interest were admitted to AP and honors courses. The district offered
   AP courses in calculus, chemistry, English, Studio Art, Latin, and Spanish during the review
   period. Seventy-four students were enrolled in AP courses in 2001, 73 in 2002, and 79 in 2003.
   All enrolled students took the AP examination. In 2004, 85 percent of students who took AP
   examinations scored three or above, according to information provided to the EQA examiners.
   All AP teachers had completed a two-week summer training institute.


6. The district had documented policies and practices to respond to student behavior and support
   student needs in an equitable manner. The collective district policies, procedures, and practices
   addressed issues in the areas of discipline, retention, suspension, exclusion, and dropout
   recovery.
   Rating: Satisfactory




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   Evidence: According to information provided to the EQA, the district provided handbooks to
   parents and students annually. Each school reviewed and updated the content each year. Included
   in the handbooks were policies related to student behavior. The school committee policy manual
   included policies on student and staff conduct, expulsions, and school bus discipline. The school
   committee policy manual did not include policies on retention. Student handbooks did not have a
   dropout recovery policy; however, interviewees indicated information on obtaining a GED or re-
   entering high school was provided to dropouts. Tracking dropouts was an informal practice in
   the district


7. The district had policies and programs in place to address the needs of transient or mobile
   students. These policies and programs promoted transient student involvement in quality,
   challenging programs and extra curricular activities.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Interviewees stated that policies for transient and mobile students were based on past
   district practices and statutory educational requirements for providing educational services to
   homeless children. The district had a program coordinator. Interviewees indicated that the district
   received transient or mobile students such as foster or homeless children. One interviewee
   indicated there were a “few” foster children in the district and one homeless child. Interviewees
   indicated that like other students transitioning into the district during the school year, these
   students received a placement assessment.


8. The district had policies and practices that assigned faculty to students and courses that
   maximized all faculty talents and skills and promoted high levels of student achievement.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: While the district did not have a written policy for the assignment of teachers in the
   district, practices were in place which considered teachers‟ abilities before assignment to
   courses. The teachers‟ labor contract included procedures on transfers and filling vacancies.
   Teachers taught within their specialty, according to interviewees. Assignment of teachers to
   courses, particularly at the high and middle schools, was a collegial effort, which included team



                                                   69
   members, department heads, and principals. This team effort was also the method used at all
   schools for hiring new teachers. Administrators and teachers strongly indicated that the hiring
   process was inclusive. Interviewees indicated that the principals decided on faculty assignments
   for regular education teachers, and the principals and special education director collaborated on
   faculty assignments for special education teachers. All teachers who taught AP course were
   required to attend a two-week summer training institute.



   Standard 8. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING: For the period of time
   under examination, the district adopted and implemented a Professional Development Plan
   developed through the analyses of data for all administrators, teachers, and other professional
   staff, paraprofessionals, and professional support teams.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      For the period under examination, the district did not have a district-wide professional
       development plan.

      High school, middle school, and elementary school teachers and administrators enrolled in
       many courses of study and workshops for professional development and recertification
       purposes.

      Professional development initiatives and programs delivered during the scheduled school
       calendar "work days" and at other times during the school year and summers were building-
       based but not directly linked to district or school improvement plans.

   Indicators:
1. The district had an annually approved professional development plan for all administrative and
   instructional staff employed by the district.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: In a review of documents submitted by the district, the EQA team found no policy
   regarding a district professional development plan for administrators, teachers, or other staff.
   Professional activities were offered during the review period, but they were not based on a
   formal plan or policy for improved student achievement. Professional development activities
   were determined in part by MCAS test data and site-based needs, but they had been limited since
   budgets were reduced in school year 2002.


                                                   70
   According to administrators and teachers, the district established a district-wide professional
   committee composed of representatives from all schools and stakeholders that was in place
   during part of the review period. District staff members indicated that the committee had "died
   out" as a result of 2002 and 2003 reductions. The district provided a list of professional
   development activities specific to each school in the district that had been conducted during the
   review period. The list lacked specific dates and detailed descriptions of the workshops or
   programs.


   District administrators and teachers stated during interviews that after 2002, professional
   development activities were left to individual schools in the district to implement. During this
   period, individual and building-based professional development activities were not coordinated
   between schools or within the district. Each school developed its own priorities. For example, the
   high school developed its own survey of professional development suggestions or requests.


2. The district‟s plan met or exceeded state requirements for resources committed to professional
   development, and the plan was evaluated for its effectiveness in advancing student performance.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory

   Evidence: State requirements for minimum district resources committed for purposes of
   professional development changed during the review period. District officials stated that early in
   the review period the mandated requirement had been met or exceeded, but that after 2002 little
   or no operating budget funds were committed to professional development. In 2002, the district
   spent $313,000, exceeding the resource requirement by approximately $76,000. For 2003, the
   district spent $242,101 which was $54,149 below the state requirement. The district's year-end
   budget expenditures report for 2004 listed a substantial figure in the professional development
   program line item. District administrators stated that the final figure was calculated by including
   all approved tuition payments for individual courses of study. It also included the total of pro-
   rata, per-diem salary figures for each teacher‟s professional-leave day, as well as the cost of
   substitute pay for each absence.




                                                   71
   The district submitted a list of out-of-district workshops and courses from each of the district's
   schools. However, the district did not provide assessments, dates, or participants for these
   professional development activities. A district document dated March 2004 asserted that the
   professional development programs conducted during this period under review had positive
   impact on student achievement as revealed by the district's MCAS test assessment trend line.


3. The district‟s Professional Development program was informed by all of the following:
   evaluation results of personnel, programs, and services (i.e., teacher evaluations, curriculum
   alignment, instruction, assessment results, MCAS remediation needs), student assessment data
   by student subgroups, and district and school improvement plans and goals.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district's professional development program during the review period lacked a
   consistent plan. However, teachers did attend workshops, trainings, and courses during the
   period. Much professional development was driven by the need to respond to assessment results.
   One example of a school professional development program was the middle school's initiative to
   employ a consultant during the 2003 school year for the purpose of training middle school
   teachers in instructional strategies designed to improve students' scores on open response
   questions and vocabulary. All middle school teaches were engaged in this training for two or
   three professional development days.


   Another example cited by teachers and administrators were several professional development
   days in 2003-2004 in which elementary teachers analyzed MCAS test data. In 2004-2005,
   teachers in grades K-5 examined the math strands of the state curriculum frameworks in order to
   realign early mathematics instruction.


   School officials stated that beginning in the summer of 2002, the high school underwent
   extensive building renovations that required the use of "teacher work days" for two years for the
   purpose of accommodating the substantial physical and logistical disruptions that attended this
   construction project. While individual high school teachers participated in a number of
   professional development activities during this period, no coordinated plan was in effect and no



                                                  72
   evaluation of the professional development was conducted. Also, during the period under review,
   the high school underwent two and one half years of self-study in preparation for the 10-year
   New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation review. Most
   professional days were used to prepare for this task.


4. The district‟s professional development programs included training in the teaching of the
   curriculum frameworks, participatory decision-making, community and parental involvement,
   and other skills required for the effective implementation of education reform.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: In interviews, teachers confirmed that the professional development which was
   initiated during the period under review was in response to individual school goals or needs. The
   district's professional development committee ceased to function during the 2002 school year.
   Teachers stated that pay for substitutes was severely curtailed after the budget crisis of 2002.
   Teachers did state, however, that faculty was made aware of the state's curriculum frameworks
   and that "years ago" they had begun the work of aligning local curricula with state standards.
   Each of the district‟s schools submitted to the EQA audit team a list of titles of professional
   development activities in which teachers and others had participated during the period under
   review. The lists were not supported by dates, annotations, descriptions of content, or evaluations
   of the activities were provided.


5. The district‟s programs included: data analysis skills for staff, the use of item analysis, and
   disaggregated data to address all students‟ achievement, accommodations for diverse styles of
   learning, and skill building in curriculum development, delivery, and instructional techniques.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district's professional development activities were not derived from a cohesive or
   focused plan. Each school, during the period under review, determined its particular goals that
   were suggested by MCAS test scores. The lists of professional development activities conducted
   during this period did not specify activity content that was linked to the topics such as teaching
   techniques or differentiating instruction. However, data analysis had begun at the elementary and



                                                   73
   middle schools during the 2002 school year. District officials and teachers stated that each school
   devoted many teacher workdays to the examination of disaggregated test scores that resulted in
   changes in curriculum. Consultants were employed to address writing skills through the John
   Collins procedures. In 2003-2004, the middle school hired a consultant to conduct several
   workshops aimed at strengthening instruction in open-ended and open response writing. District
   administrators and other staff stated that during the period under review, professional
   development was not guided by district-wide plans or directives.


6. Administrators and teachers advanced their knowledge and skills on a regular basis by enrolling
   in courses that were directly related to their professional assignments.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: No documentation was presented by the district which directly identified courses of
   study that were clearly related to the professional assignments of teachers or administrators. The
   EQA review of the district's documents found one list of courses of study, workshops, and other
   professional development activities in which high school faculty members participated during
   the period under review. However, the list was not annotated and the items were not dated.
   During interviews, administrators and teachers stated that teachers enrolled in various courses of
   study and other activities similar to those noted in the high school document, but that records
   were not available. Many, if not most of the activities, according to district administrators and
   teachers, were in pursuit of advanced degrees and relicensure by the DOE.


7. Teachers were involved in the development, implementation, and assessment of the district‟s
   professional development program.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district, during the period under review, did not guide professional development
   of its staff by means of a district plan. The standing district committee for professional
   development had been eliminated after the 2002 school year. Teachers and administrators stated
   that whatever professional development did take place was initiated on an informal basis and was
   implemented on an individual school basis. During most of the years of the period under review,



                                                    74
teachers proposed a professional development activity to the principal and the principal would, in
turn, seek counsel with other staff members in the building in order to approve or disapprove the
proposal.


Teachers and administrators stated in interviews that professional development proposals for
school-wide programs to be conducted during scheduled work days were not aligned with school
or district improvement plans. They confirmed that no district-wide initiatives for professional
development were conducted during the period under review.




                                               75
                                Domain C: Academic Support Services

    Standards                          Indicators     1   2      3      4      5     6       Total
   Domain C – Academic Support Services
   S9 - Student Academic Support: Programs
    Excellent                                            0   0      0      0      0     0        0
    Satisfactory                                         1   0      1      1      1     1        5
    Poor                                                 0   0      0      0      0     0        0
    Unsatisfactory                                       0   1      0      0      0     0        1
   S10 - Student Academic Support: Program
   Management & Evaluation
    Excellent                                            0   0      0      0      0    N/A       0
    Satisfactory                                         1   1      1      1      0    N/A       4
    Poor                                                 0   0      0      0      1    N/A       1
    Unsatisfactory                                       0   0      0      0      0    N/A       0



   Standard 9. STUDENT ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROGRAMS: For the period under
   examination, the district provided appropriate academic support services in ELA, math, and
   other core content areas for students who were not meeting state performance expectations.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      During the review period, the district did not have a District Curriculum Accommodation
       Plan (DCAP).

   Indicators:
1. The district monitored student progress through the assessment of individual student
   performance data and provided students who were not proficient with additional programs and
   support to assist their progress.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district assessed the progress of individual students and
   provided students who were not proficient with additional programs and support. Participants in
   interviews and focus groups stated that the principals, the grades K-12 curriculum coordinators,
   some lead teachers, and some classroom teachers were trained in TestWiz and analyzed student
   performance data to help identify areas where students needed improvement. At both elementary
   schools, staff members used a number of indicators, including pre- and post-testing, Reading
   Recovery, and teacher-generated tests. The elementary schools had child study teams and student


                                                    76
   success teams consisting of the student‟s classroom teacher, a special education teacher, the
   school nurse, and two subject area teachers. The district notified parents when their child was
   scheduled for an evaluation. During the review period, the district eliminated a number of after-
   school programs because of the budget deficit, and staff members worked before school with
   students in need of assistance. Interviewees stated that the middle school provided a summer
   academy, a homework club, and an extended day program. The district cancelled all of these
   programs when grant funding became unavailable. The high school had additional ELA and
   math courses mandated for all students who were at risk of failing the MCAS test based on
   Grade 8 MCAS test results. During the review period, the district offered school and summer
   programs, but school administrators said that attendance was poor.


2. The district adopted and implemented a District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP) as a
   component of the District Improvement Plan (DIP) to assist principals in ensuring that all efforts
   were made to meet students‟ needs in regular education.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: A review of documentation and interviews with administrators indicated that the
   district did not have a clearly stated and formally adopted DIP or DCAP in place during the
   review period. The DCAP was not a part of the DIP.


3. Components of the DCAP included the following:
   a. direct and systematic instruction in reading;
   b. provision of services to address the needs of students whose behavior may have interfered
      with learning;
   c. provisions encouraging teacher mentoring and collaboration and parental involvement; and
   d. assistance to classroom teachers, such as professional development, to help them analyze and
      accommodate the needs of students.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district did not have a DCAP for the review period. However, reading instruction,
   programs, and assessments were in place. The elementary-level programs included Reading



                                                  77
Recovery, Wilson Reading, Project Read, and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA).
The middle school provided remedial reading classes for at-risk and special education students.
The school had also provided after-school and summer programs until funding ceased in 2003.
The high school provided additional instruction for at-risk students in grades 9 and 10 by
providing an extra block of ELA every semester and an extra block of math every other
semester.


Interviewees stated that the district provided services to students with behavioral issues. These
services included formal counseling, individual intervention plans, psychological testing,
emergency intervention, and out-of-district placements. Common planning time at the middle
school allowed team members the opportunity to discuss student behavior and achievement.
Administrators stated that weekly meetings to monitor at-risk students at the high school level
included administration and guidance.


The district provided a mentoring program during the review period. Many staff members
received training and participated as mentors for a stipend. At the beginning of the school year,
all new teachers were assigned a mentor from their school or department. Mentor activities were
not formalized, and each mentor worked with the new teacher independently. According to
administrators and teachers, mentors, and mentees met at orientation prior to the start of school.


School committee members, administrators, and teachers stated that parental involvement was
strong. School councils were active and the parent advisory committee provided programs with
outside speakers who addressed parental concerns and interests. Parent groups and local business
owners also provided additional funds for athletics, music, and art.


A goal of the SIP was using data analysis to meet the needs of the student population.
Administrators stated that the MCAS test analysis was shared consistently with members of the
staff at faculty, team, and departmental meetings. When the data indicated that the students
performed poorly on the writing component of the MCAS test, the district initiated the John
Collins Writing program; however, administrators and teachers indicated that the only element of
the initiative that the district accomplished was the training of faculty.



                                                  78
4. At each grade level, the district used data available from classroom teachers, standardized tests,
   and local benchmarks to identify all students who are not meeting grade-level performance
   expectations and provided these students with sufficient supplementary and/or remedial services.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, budgetary restrictions resulted in cuts in personnel and
   materials. Interviewees stated that district officials attempted to retain classroom teachers and
   maintain class size. In spite of the reductions in funding, interviewees told EQA examiners that
   the district used data and local benchmarks to identify students not meeting grade-level standards
   throughout the review period. Staff used data analysis to refer at-risk students to the child study
   teams, student success teams, and other support personnel at all levels in the district.
   Administrators stated that peer tutoring at the high and middle schools by National Honor
   Society members was successful. Interviewees indicated that, in spite of the lost services the
   district lost due to budget restrictions, special education services remained in place.


5. Early intervention programs in literacy were provided at the primary level to ensure that by the
   end of Grade 3 students were reading at the „Proficient‟ level on the MCAS test. *
   *This indicator is not applicable to secondary and vocational-technical schools and districts.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district‟s Grade 3 reading scores were at or above the
   state average. In 2001, 64 percent of the students were proficient in reading; in 2002, 70 percent;
   in 2003, 67 percent; and in 2004, 69 percent. The state average proficiency rate for 2003 was 67
   percent and for 2004, it was 63 percent. During the review period, the district provided early
   intervention programs for the at-risk student population. Title I grants provided funding for
   Reading Recovery for three years in Westminster and four years in Ashburnham. In addition,
   other staff members had training in Wilson Reading. The district offered a number of early
   intervention programs at the grades K-3 levels, including additional reading, special education
   services, and literacy instruction. The district reviewed the performance of students identified
   with language difficulties starting at the Pre-K level, and monitored their progress.



                                                    79
6. The district's MCAS success plan was approved by the Department of Education, and contained
   the elements articulated in MGL Chapter 69, §1I (in applicable districts only).
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The DOE approved the district‟s MCAS test success plan, and all of the required
   elements were in place.


   Standard 10. STUDENT ACADEMIC SUPPORT: PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND
   EVALUATION: For the period under examination, the district engaged in a comprehensive
   analysis of the results from student performance assessments and student needs in order to
   determine the content and scope of academic support services that were offered.


   Preliminary Finding(s):
      Although the district performed analyses of student assessment results and provided
       academic support and supplementary programs, the reduction in the number of students in
       the „Warning/Failing‟ category for ELA and math during the review period was limited.

   Indicators:
1. The district engaged in a documented, formal, comprehensive analysis of the results from student
   performance assessments and student needs to determine the content and scope of academic
   programs and support services offered.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: According to district officials, the district analyzed student performance assessment
   results and student learning needs during the review period. The central office conducted the
   initial disaggregation of assessment data through a consultant who offered suggestions for
   curriculum interventions. The schools' principals received the MCAS test data and, in turn,
   provided the data to teachers. Teams of teachers in the schools evaluated the data for the purpose
   of revising curriculum content, alignment, or sequences.




                                                   80
   Although TestWiz was available, teachers stated that not all staff had been trained in the use of
   the program. Three of the building administrators interviewed stated that they had been trained
   and had used TestWiz information to modify curriculum and instruction. District administrators
   and teachers stated that standing committees or teams at each school conducted assessment
   analyses throughout the school year. In addition to the MCAS test results, the elementary schools
   used the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to identify students in need of the Reading
   Recovery support program. Examples of other assessments used by the district were elementary
   school writing portfolios, and the Stanford 9 pre- and post-test for students assigned to the high
   school reading workshop.


2. The district used MCAS grant funds to develop or enhance academic support programs for
   students scoring in 'Warning/Failing' and 'Needs Improvement' categories.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district used MCAS test grants to provide academic support programs for
   students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟ and „Needs Improvement‟ categories. District
   administrators stated that during the review period, several grant applications were not approved
   due to the relatively high achievement scores of the district's students. The district funded
   elementary and middle school MCAS test summer academy programs for school years 2002 and
   2003 for grades 3-8. Academic support grants were awarded for the high school for school years
   2002-2004. The high school provided ELA and math tutors for students at risk of MCAS test
   failure for the first two years of the grant. The high school received another grant-funded
   program for school year 2002. The Project Success grant provided ELA and math instruction
   through a once-per-week pull-out from physical education classes. Two tutors provided
   instruction in small groups or individually.


3. District and/or school administrators evaluated the overall effectiveness of its grant-funded
   MCAS success program.
   Rating: Satisfactory




                                                  81
   Evidence: The district submitted evaluation documents for the elementary summer academy for
   the summer of 2001, for the secondary summer academy, and for Project Success. Each
   document consisted of a narrative that described the procedures used, staff employed,
   curriculum, and program schedules. The documents included data on student achievement
   improvement, participation information, program strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations
   for improvement of the programs.


4. The district used a range of supplemental support programs to advance student performance for
   those students in need. These programs were designed to address a variety of learner needs and
   styles in the assessed content areas.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district used a range of supplemental support programs
   to improve student performance. District administrators and teachers cited a number of
   supplemental programs including Reading Recovery, after-school tutorial and enrichment
   interventions for elementary and middle school students, and after-school tutorials for at-risk
   students in ELA and math. The district assigned Title I teachers and paraprofessionals on an as-
   needed basis in the elementary schools, based on formative and summative assessments of
   individual students skills.


   The middle school provided several supplementary programs during the review period. Its STEP
   program was designed for math and ELA tutoring for learning disabled students in grades 6-8.
   The middle school STEP program targeted regular education students in the same grades. A
   guidance-directed tutoring program, which used the services of skilled high school students,
   offered additional help to middle school students.


   Both the middle and high schools used targeted improvement tutorial procedures for students at
   risk of MCAS test failure in grades 8-10. During the review period, the high school provided
   pull-out MCAS test remediation for at-risk students through its learning center program, to target
   individual students for remedial assistance.




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5. Evaluations of academic support programs indicated that overall programs were efficient,
   managed effectively, and resulted in moving students from „Warning/Failing‟ and „Needs
   Improvement' to the 'Proficient' category.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The evaluations that the EQA team reviewed were predominantly narrative. The
   information varied, but included the program procedures, curricula used, staffing employed,
   general schedules and calendars, and recommendations. All programs were described as
   successful because the average gains substantiated the effectiveness of each program.


   The Project Success high school program evaluation described one example of skills gained by
   students. Seventy-two percent of the participating students "showed improvement" in math.
   However, the ELA post-test, constructed with different kinds of items than the pre-test, did not
   provide accurate data to measure improvement. Local management of this program failed to
   ensure appropriate evaluation protocols.


   District administrators stated that academic support programs were effective because the
   participating students made achievement gains and contributed to a positive AYP and a positive
   MCAS trend line over the four years under review. However, the percentage of students scoring
   in the „Warning/Failing‟ category in ELA on the MCAS test in 2004 was 4.5 percentage points
   lower than in 2001. In math, the percentage of students scoring in the „Warning/Failing‟ category
   on the MCAS test in 2004 was 6.1 percentage points lower than in 2001.




                                                  83
                     Domain D: Leadership, Governance, and Organization

 Standards                 Indicators    1    2   3   4   5    6    7    8       9   Total
Domain D - Leadership, Governance, &
Organization
S11 - Organizational Leadership: Direction, Goal
Setting, Policies, & Planning
 Excellent                                         0    0   0   0   0    0    0    0       0    0
 Satisfactory                                      0    1   0   1   1    0    0    0       1    4
 Poor                                              1    0   1   0   0    1    0    1       0    4
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    0   0   0   0    0    1    0       0    1
S12 - Organizational & Human Resource
Management
 Excellent                                         0    0   0   0   0    0    0    0       0    0
 Satisfactory                                      1    1   1   1   1    1    1    1       1    9
 Poor                                              0    0   0   0   0    0    0    0       0    0
 Unsatisfactory                                    0    0   0   0   0    0    0    0       0    0


Standard 11. ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP: DIRECTION, GOAL SETTING,
POLICIES AND PLANNING: For the period under examination, the district, each of its
schools, and programs implemented improvement plans that were based on a comprehensive
vision or mission, clear priorities for student achievement, and the analysis of recent and long-
range student performance data. The district maintained organized, accessible, thorough, and
complete documentation on past and current initiatives, practices, policies, procedures, and
achievements of the district and its students. The implementation of improvement plans was
consistently assessed and modified based on the ongoing analysis of student achievement data.

Preliminary Finding(s):
    Between 2001 and 2004, the district did not have a District Improvement Plan (DIP).

    During the period under review, the school committee‟s policy manual was outdated in
     several areas.

    According to a review of the district‟s personnel files, six out of 12 administrators were
     appropriately certified.




                                                   84
   Indicators:
1. The district had a clearly understood vision and/or mission, goals, and priorities included in the
   District Improvement Plan (DIP). The plan and the analysis of student achievement data drove
   the development, implementation, and modification of educational programs, services, and
   practices.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district developed a DIP draft, dated 2000, with input from approximately 50
   individuals, including educators, administrators, parents and community members. The district
   held a one-day meeting and hired a consultant to gather information and prepare a draft strategic
   plan. The district received the draft but never formally adopted it. The district sometimes utilized
   the draft when applying for grants and referred to the draft in the schools‟ development of their
   School Improvement Plans (SIPs). Interviewees stated that the 2000 DIP did not serve as the
   district‟s driving force.


2. School Committee members were informed and knowledgeable about their responsibilities under
   Education Reform, and relied on student achievement and other data as the foundation of their
   policy making and decision making.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the review period, the district had a 10-member school committee consisting
   of five members representing each of the two communities. Each member was elected for a term
   of three years. Changes in the school committee membership occurred during the period under
   review. Interviewees stated that not all members participated in the eight-hour training program
   offered through the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC). One member of
   the school committee was active in MASC and regularly reported to the school committee on
   MASC activities and discussions. The chairperson of the school committee and the
   superintendent routinely attended the annual joint Massachusetts Association of School
   Superintendents (MASS) and MASC conference. The board did not establish procedures for
   mentoring new school committee members, but they indicated the superintendent typically




                                                   85
   gathered and discussed pertinent information with newly elected members. School committee
   members stated they became more unified during the last year of the review period.


3. The district maintained organized, accessible, thorough, and complete documentation on past and
   current initiatives, practices, policies, procedures, and achievements of the district and its
   students.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: The district ensured that the policy manual was accessible by ensuring copies were
   located in each school, in the superintendent‟s office, and in the public libraries of each
   community. However, the policy manual was outdated for the period under review. School
   committee members acknowledged that they did not regularly review the manual in a timely
   manner during the first part of the review period. The school committee did not establish a set
   schedule for ongoing review of the manual, although they updated it as needed. School
   committee policy stated that two or three policy readings should precede the adoption of a
   policy. In some cases there were two readings prior to the updating of a policy. During the last
   year under review, the committee followed the MASC model for policy review.


4. An approved School Improvement Plan (SIP) for every school, aligned with the district‟s plan,
   was in use and based on the analysis of student achievement data.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The school committee approved all SIPs annually, and every school had an approved
   SIP for every year during the review period. Interviewees stated that school councils diligently
   worked to establish a SIP that would meet student needs. Interviewees also stated that the 2000
   DIP was not the driving force for the development of SIPs, although they referenced the DIP.
   The school committee policy manual addressed the presentation of annual SIPs. School
   committee members and administrative staff stated that school councils discussed the
   achievement of prior years‟ goals during the presentation of the upcoming SIP. All of the SIPs
   reviewed had student achievement goals.




                                                  86
5. District administrators, building administrators, and teachers demonstrated that they had the
   skills to use aggregate and individual test analyses to inform and assess the effectiveness of the
   planning process, and to improve instructional programs and services for all student populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the early part of the review period, trained ELA and math K-12 curriculum
   coordinators used TestWiz to analyze student assessment data. Following the elimination of
   these curriculum coordinator positions, due to severe budget restrictions, data-analysis became
   the responsibility of each school principal. All principals indicated they were trained in TestWiz
   and that some teachers were also trained. Elementary focus groups consisting of teachers from
   each grade level reviewed test data and shared this information with all teachers. Principals
   worked with teachers to address areas of concern and to adjust curricula. At the middle and
   senior high levels, the departments performed analyses. At the middle school level, teams also
   analyzed student data. At the high school, department team leaders also trained in TestWiz
   spearheaded efforts to analyze student assessment results.


6. District leaders monitored student achievement data throughout the year, considered the goals
   identified in the DIP, and individual SIPs, and implemented programs, policies, and services that
   were most likely to result in improved student achievement.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: Interviewees stated that administrative meetings rarely, if ever, covered student
   achievement and the implementation of the DIP and SIPs. The interviewees indicated that the
   district‟s capacity was limited because of budget restrictions during the years under review. They
   also reported that severe financial restrictions led to limited school administration discussions
   focused mainly on strategies for maintaining the core academic structure.


7. All of the district‟s administrators were appropriately certified.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory




                                                     87
   Evidence: A review of personnel files showed that only six out of 12 administrators were
   appropriately certified. While there were changes in administration during the review period,
   some administrators without proper certification continued to serve in these positions. All non-
   certified administrators were on waivers and were working towards certification.


8. The leadership reported annually to the school committee, staff, and community concerning the
   extent to which the implementation of the DIP and SIPs did/did not result in improved student
   achievement.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: Principals and school councils presented annual reports to the school committee on
   SIP implementation and outcomes. All school committee meetings were broadcasted on local
   cable television. The DIP was not annually reviewed and or approved by the school committee
   for the early part of the review period. In the 2003-2004 school year, the newly established DIP
   was reviewed and became the driving force of the district. The superintendent stated that all SIPs
   must be aligned with the DIP during the current school year.


9. The superintendent's performance was evaluated annually based on the district‟s state assessment
   results and implementation of the DIP. This evaluation served as the basis for setting
   compensation and improving the future job performance of the superintendent.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The previous superintendent was evaluated on an annual basis during the review
   period. Each school committee member evaluated the superintendent individually using a rating
   system. The chairperson compiled the information to produce the final evaluation document. The
   team found no evidence that the previous superintendent‟s compensation was linked to student
   achievement. The present superintendent was hired in November 2003 and was not evaluated
   during the 2003-2004 school year, but was evaluated in the 2004-2005 school year. The district
   developed a new evaluation tool that included a merit clause based on student achievement. The
   school committee and superintendent approved this new evaluation tool. All evaluations were
   presented during an open school committee meeting.



                                                  88
   Standard 12. ORGANIZATIONAL AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: For the
   period under examination, the district had organizational structures, policies, collective
   bargaining agreements, procedures, and practices with clear lines of authority, responsibility, and
   accountability. Teacher retention/turnover rates were within reason. Together, these elements
   promoted efficient and effective district operation and facilitated achievement for all students.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
       The district had a mentoring program and each school had trained mentors during the period
        under review.

       Each building principal was responsible for disseminating essential information to all staff
        members.

   Indicators:
1. The superintendent effectively delegated the educational and operational management of the
   schools to the building principals and program directors.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The building principals were the educational and operational managers of their
   schools. During the first years under review, the administrative team met with the superintendent
   on a monthly basis. During the last year of the period under review, the administrative team met
   weekly. The schedule included 9:30 a.m. meetings and 2:30 p.m. meetings to enable all assistant
   principals to attend. Meetings had set agendas and an open discussion period to allow
   administrators to present issues and pose questions to the team. Many participants in focus
   groups confirmed that principals managed their schools. No participants mentioned inappropriate
   district interference with the principals‟ responsibilities.


2. The district leaders ensured that:
   a.    all principals were aware of and understood published policies and district improvement
        plans, and




                                                     89
   b. the district used system-wide and intra-district communication systems to keep all faculty
       and staff informed and to provide avenues for response.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The monthly and weekly administrative meetings served as the primary forum for
   information dissemination. The principal was responsible for informing school staff of policies
   and updates. Interviewees stated that in 2004 conversations were held about the current district
   policies and the importance of the newly drafted DIP, approved by the school committee in
   October. The newly adopted DIP included six goals and each building principal was assigned a
   particular goal to focus on during the school year.


   The district informed all segments of the educational community about district initiatives and
   issues through varied media. Memoranda, calls, and the electronic-mail system were the most
   common modes of communication by the school committee, administration and staff. Principals
   ensured that all members of the staff were aware of changes and any other pertinent information.
   During the first years of the period under review, the teachers‟ union leadership met with the
   superintendent monthly. During the last year of the review period, the meeting schedule was
   informal. Interviewees consistently agreed that the dialogue between the district and the
   teachers‟ labor union was open and regular.


3. The district was organized in a manner that addressed all aspects of administrative actions and
   had lines of responsibility. Job descriptions for all personnel were current, published, and
   available to all faculty and staff.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Each school and the central administrative office produced organizational charts. The
   superintendent stated that all organizational charts were updated annually. The superintendent
   developed and updated job descriptions when vacancies opened or when a new position was
   approved. There was no policy to address the updating of job descriptions. The superintendent
   indicated that he would sometimes borrow language from job descriptions in other agencies to
   create district job descriptions. The superintendent also sought the input of his administrative



                                                   90
   team when creating or updating job descriptions. Interviewees stated that sometimes, union
   leadership discussed employment responsibilities with district administrators. Job descriptions
   were available to all staff. A review of files revealed outdated job descriptions. The school
   committee took no official action on the list of new and updated job descriptions submitted by
   the district. All jobs were posted internally and advertised in local newspapers.


4. The district had practices for the recruitment and hiring of staff that involved administrative and
   staff participation. The process was perceived as fair and open and focused on identifying and
   acquiring the most qualified individuals for each position.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: When positions became available, the district sent postings to each school, the union
   leadership, and local newspapers. Some openings were posted on the school website. Principals
   established review committees for job openings within their schools. Review committees
   consisted of staff, parents, and members of the school council. These committees read all
   applications and made hiring recommendations to the principal, who made the final decision.
   The principals forwarded their hiring decisions to the superintendent. All principals stated the
   superintendent usually approved their candidate selections. The superintendent and principal
   discussed any disagreements in hiring decisions. The district established district-wide
   committees to review administrative openings. District-wide review committees consisted of
   teachers, school council members, parents and members of the community. The district-wide
   review committees reviewed all applications and made recommendations to the superintendent.
   The review committee for the selection of a new superintendent gave its recommendation
   directly to the school committee. Interviewees indicated that the hiring process was both fair and
   open.


5. The district employed qualified teachers who were certified in the area(s) of their primary
   assignment or responsibility.
   Rating: Satisfactory




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   Evidence: A review of personnel files revealed that the district employed uncertified teachers.
   According to documents the district submitted to the EQA team, 10 out of 188 teachers were not
   certified. Interviewees verified that the district employed non-certified personnel during the
   review period.


6. The district maintained waivers for staff regarding certification and progress toward certification.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district maintained waivers for staff regarding certification and sent letters
   encouraging staff to continue the certification process. A review of personnel records showed
   that some staff members were on waivers for two years.


7. The district actively undertook efforts to provide teachers new to the district and to the
   profession with coaches and mentors in their respective roles.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district had a mentoring program and each school had staff members trained to be
   mentors. All new staff members were assigned a mentor. No formal guidelines addressed mentor
   responsibilities. Participants in teacher focus groups stated that the mentor program effectively
   aided the transitions of new staff members in the district. Mentors stated they met regularly with
   their mentees and assisted them in school orientation matters, classroom management, and
   components of the curriculum.


8. The district ensured that all personnel records were carefully compiled, maintained, and available
   to all appropriate faculty and staff.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: All personnel files were kept in the superintendent‟s office. The records were
   organized and individual folders were in place. Record folders were complete with
   documentation of certification, signed and dated evaluations, letters of commendation/reprimand,
   attendance records, personal information, and other pertinent information. The district had a



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   protocol for staff review of their personnel records including a form requiring the employee
   signature and date. Central office asked members to call ahead so that the requested files would
   be ready for their review.


9. District employment policies and practices identified and encouraged skilled, qualified personnel
   to be appointed to and remain in the district‟s employ, which resulted in a low rate of teacher and
   administrative turnover among qualified staff.
   Rating: Satisfactory

   Evidence: Staff turnover was minimal for the years under review. A new superintendent was
   appointed during the 2003-2004 school year. Prior to this appointment, the district had an interim
   superintendent. New assistant principals at the elementary and middle schools were also
   appointed during the review period. Interviewees indicated that turnover was not problematic.
   Many teachers taught within the district for many years, and interviewed administrators and
   teachers consistently stated that staff enjoyed teaching in the district because of the student body
   and the rural setting. Interviewees noted that most of the staff held professional status.
   Interviewees also stated that the development of contract agreements was not problematic. The
   contract during the review period called for three six percent raises. A new contract was settled
   for the next three years in the fall of 2004.




                                                    93
                          Domain E: Business and Financial Management

 Standards  Indicators              1   2        3   4   5   6   7    8     9    10   Total
Domain E – Business & Financial
Management
S13 - Budget Preparation & Development
 Excellent                                  0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0    0     0
 Satisfactory                               1   1        1   1   0   1   1    1     1    1     9
 Poor                                       0   0        0   0   1   0   0    0     0    0     1
 Unsatisfactory                             0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0    0     0
S14 - Financial Asset Management
 Excellent                                  0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                               0   1        1   1   1   1   1    1     0   N/A    7
 Poor                                       1   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     1   N/A    2
 Unsatisfactory                             0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0   N/A    0
S15 – Supplemental, Capital, & Facilities
Asset Management
 Excellent                                  0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0   N/A    0
 Satisfactory                               1   0        1   1   1   1   1    1     1   N/A    8
Poor                                        0   0        0   0   0   0   0    0     0   N/A    0
 Unsatisfactory                             0   1        0   0   0   0   0    0     0   N/A    1


Standard 13. BUDGET PREPARATION AND DEVELOPMENT: For the period under
examination, the district had a budget preparation and development process that ensured full
consideration and effective use of available resources essential for district and school operations
focused on student achievement. The school committee, superintendent, administrators, faculty,
staff, parents, and members of the community met their responsibility to ensure that the school
budget and appropriations met the educational and achievement needs of all students.


Preliminary Finding(s):
     During the period under review, budget restrictions limited the district‟s ability to provide
      adequate educational resources. The district was required to reduce staff, reduce
      professional development, deduce purchasing materials, equipment, and textbooks, and had
      to establish student activity fees for athletics and co-curricular activities.

     The district did not implement programmatic, cost-effectiveness reviews as part of the
      budget process, although the district had a detailed budget process.




                                                    94
   Indicators:
1. There were clear, documented policies and procedures for the development of the district‟s
   budget to ensure input from all staff.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: A review of documents provided to the EQA indicated there was no evidence of
   formal school committee policies that established procedures for the development and adoption
   of the district budget. However, there was a document entitled “Budget Preparation Schedule,
   School Year 2003-2004” which clearly delineated a schedule that began in September with the
   establishment of goals and priorities. The schedule detailed 28 milestone dates during the budget
   process, including hearings and final town meetings.


   During September, the budget goals and priorities were established at meetings held by
   the superintendent‟s administrative team. During the same period, principals met with the
   district facilities manager, the district technology coordinator, as well as other
   administrators. Since the period under review was a time of budget restrictions, many
   discussions in these meetings focused on identifying items for possible reductions. In
   early October, a preliminary budget was developed which included requests from school
   principals. The superintendent met with the school principals and a draft administrative
   budget was developed.


   During November and December, the superintendent presented a summary budget to the
   budget subcommittee of the school committee. A summary budget was then presented to
   the full school committee and officials from both towns in the district. Continuous budget
   sessions were held between the superintendent, school committee, and town officials
   during the month of January. In February, the school committee held public hearings and
   certified the budget. In April, the budget was presented at town meetings.


2. Relevant budget development decisions were premised on a clear, documented systemic analysis
   of student performance data as well as other pertinent information.
   Rating: Satisfactory



                                                  95
   Evidence: According to interviewees, during the period under review, an analysis of the MCAS
   ELA and math test scores indicated a need to focus on math when making budget decisions,
   particularly at the elementary and middle schools. During the early development of the budget,
   the superintendent determined a preliminary dollar amount to be allocated to each school and
   forwarded this budget to the school principal. In separate interviews with principal and teacher
   focus groups, it was confirmed that each school‟s budget was formulated through discussions
   with teachers and parent councils.


3. The district‟s budget development process was clear, document and integrated district and school
   improvement plans, long-term goals, and action plans.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The budget preparation schedule indicated that goals and priorities were the first
   benchmark established during the budget development process. The district also developed a
   media presentation for the public. This document detailed the budget process, long-term goals,
   action plans, requested cost increases, and override calculations.


4. The district allocated its resources based on the ongoing analysis of student assessment data in
   the aggregate and disaggregated by student subgroups to improve achievement for all student
   populations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The superintendent stated that the district allocated its resources based primarily on
   reviews of MCAS test scores and TestWiz data analysis. These reviews indicated a priority
   requirement for improving the math curriculum. According to interviewees, during the period
   under review, an analysis of the MCAS ELA and math test scores indicated a need to focus on
   math when making budget decisions, particularly at the elementary and middle schools. A
   number of staff members were trained in TestWiz, and financial resources were allocated toward
   that training. Budgeted funds allowed school principals and other administrators to attend DOE
   workshops in MCAS test administration.



                                                   96
5. The district, as part of its budget process, implemented a review process to determine the cost
   effectiveness of all of its programs, initiatives, and activities.
   Rating: Poor


   Evidence: No data were presented that indicated the district implemented a review process to
   determine the cost effectiveness of its programs for the period under review. According to
   central administrative personnel and principals who were interviewed, programs that were
   beneficial to students were reviewed and financial resources were allocated for those purposes,
   but these were not cost-effectiveness reviews. There were operating budget reductions each of
   the years under review. A review of the budget reductions made in the years under review
   indicated a number of staff positions were reduced or eliminated and athletics and other co-
   curricular activities for students were required to be supported by student fees. Interviews with
   teachers and principals indicated that they, as well as parent councils, had input into the
   reduction or retention of programs.


6. The district‟s budget document was clear, complete, current, and understandable and provided
   accurate information on all fund sources as well as previous history and trends.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: A review of the district‟s FY2003–FY2004 budget displayed all actual and estimated
   budget fund sources for FY2002–FY2003, and FY2003–FY2004. The budget document also
   detailed budget allocations by each of the district‟s towns. The budget also included operating
   budgets by function code as well as increases or decreases from the previous to the current
   budget year by major budget category.


7. The budget and district‟s expenditures were adequate to provide for appropriate levels of
   staffing, professional development, materials, supplies, and equipment.
   Rating: Poor




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   Evidence: During the period under review, there was an unsuccessful tax override vote which
   intended to increase the operating budget of the district‟s schools. In interviews with EQA
   examiners district administrators stated that, during the period under review, funding was not
   adequate for staffing, professional development, materials, supplies, and equipment. Interviews
   with principals and teacher focus groups confirmed that budgeted funds for supplies and
   textbooks were inadequate. Documents obtained from district administrators showed 10.6 full-
   time equivalent positions were eliminated from the high school. The documentation also showed
   reductions, such as professional staff, the enrichment reading program, a world language
   program, and a chorus program were made from the middle school. Staff was also reduced from
   the elementary schools, resulting in an increase in the teacher-to-student ratio. Athletic and co-
   curricular participation required student-paid fees. The NSS spending requirement for FY2002
   was $14,809,878 and the actual spending was $16,467,569. The NSS spending requirement for
   FY2003 was $15,175,290 and the actual spending was $16,585,267. The NSS spending
   requirement for fiscal year 2004 was $15,782,672 and the actual spending was $16,839,504.


   Based on a review of the district‟s End-of-Year Pupil and Financial Report submitted to the
   DOE, the district met the foundation requirement for professional development in FY2001 and
   FY2002. It exceeded the requirement by $130,827 and $76,002 respectively. In FY2003, the
   district did not meet the foundation requirement for professional development by $54,149. The
   “Instructional Services” Function Code 2000 series for the period under review increased 1.6
   percent, from $11,450,929 in FY2001 to $11,635,282 in FY2004. The “Operations and
   Maintenance” Function Code 4000 series for the period under review increased 0.90 percent,
   from $1,676,593 in FY2001 to $1,691,018 in FY2004.



8. The community provided financial resources to ensure an educational program of quality, as
   evidenced by a sufficient district revenue levy.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Based on a review of the district‟s End-of-Year Pupil and Financial Report‟s
   Schedule 2, Assessments Received from Member Towns or Cities of Regional School Districts,
   as submitted to the DOE, the member communities of Ashburnham and Westminster exceeded


                                                      98
   the required minimum local contribution for each year under review. In FY2001, the towns of
   Ashburnham and Westminster contributed an additional $853,529 and $942,617 respectively. In
   FY2002, they contributed an additional $884,506 and $959,500 respectively. In FY2003, they
   contributed an additional $783,097 and $853,812 respectively. In FY2004, they contributed an
   additional $507,272 and $$573,744 respectively.


   During the period under review, the district had a series of failed operational override votes.
   These override attempts were for the purpose of funding the school district at levels deemed
   educationally necessary by the administration and school committee. The district was required to
   reduce staff, reduce professional development, and reduce the purchase of materials, equipment,
   and textbooks. Student activity fees for athletics and co-curricular activities were established.
   Interviews with principals and teachers indicated that during the period under review, there was a
   severe shortage of basic classroom supplies. There was also construction and rehabilitation of
   two school buildings in progress during the period under review. During the period under review,
   the district exceeded the state net school spending (NSS) requirements.


9. The school committee:
   a. reviewed and approved a budget for education in the district according to the process and
      timeline developed with the superintendent,
   b. worked to ensure that necessary funds were appropriated for the district, and
   c. maintained the balance between needs and resources in the distribution of monies, and
      oversaw the operation of the annual school budget.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The superintendent developed a precise time line in the budget as evidenced by the
   budget preparation schedule. A review of school committee minutes indicated that some budgets
   were not finalized until late in the summer prior to school opening because of final decisions
   resulting from failed override votes. The superintendent and school committee presented clear
   documentation at public hearings and town meetings and to the voters as to the reasons for a
   favorable override vote. A review of school committee meetings for the period under review




                                                  99
   indicated that there were numerous discussions relative to the budget during meetings and that a
   budget subcommittee oversaw the operation of the school budget


10. The district and its leadership actively pursued and developed community partnerships to expand
   interest and involvement in the educational system and to support the educational needs of the
   students and the financial needs of the system.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The administration pursued community partnerships by active participation in local
   service organizations, such as the Rotary and Lions clubs. There were also cooperative programs
   developed with Fitchburg State College. Mini grants from local donated funds were used to
   purchase textbooks. The administration developed a relationship with a local private school for
   access to that school‟s ice hockey rink. A local business developed a program with the school
   district to introduce women to technology.


   Standard 14. FINANCIAL ASSET MANAGEMENT: For the period under examination, the
   district maintained adequate accounting and financial reporting procedures. This was done to
   inform district-level and school-level decision-makers, to ensure effective and efficient
   managerial control over the use of all funds, and to improve achievement for all students.

   Preliminary Finding(s):
      During the period under review, the operating budgets were reduced each year and, while
       student achievement was a consideration and some data analysis and resource distribution
       was provided, preservation of classroom teachers and maintaining acceptable class sizes were
       reported to be the priority when the budget was deliberated.

      During the period under review, because the school committee policies related to finance
       were not up-to-date and were limited, they were insufficient to determine the processes and
       expectations for expenditures, transfers, and investment of funds.

   Indicators:
1. School committee policies and guidelines, and administrative procedures were clear regarding
   the processes and expectations for expenditures, transfers, and investment of funds.
   Rating: Poor


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   Evidence: A review of school committee policies indicated that they were insufficient to
   determine the processes and expectations for expenditures, transfers, and investment of funds.
   During the period under review, the school committee had six policies related to finance. One of
   these policies was amended in November 2003. The other policies were adopted by the school
   committee between 1990 and 1994. The superintendent stated that a policy subcommittee of the
   school committee was reviewing and updating all policies. Principals received a monthly
   expenditure ledger report. The monthly expenditure report for the high school for the period
   ending June 30, 2004 was reviewed. The report consisted of budgeted funds, monthly and yearly
   to-date expenditures, encumbrances and unexpended balances. Principals had the latitude to
   transfer funds within accounts of their budgets.


2. The district exercised appropriate controls to ensure accuracy of local, state, and federal financial
   reports.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district had a fund-based accounting system to segregate federal, state, and local
   grants, including entitlement grants and competitive grants. The district‟s accounting system had
   nine levels of detail and reported budget, expenditures, encumbrances, and balances-by-school
   and at any other level that is required for federal and state reporting.


   The management letter for FY2004 contained a finding relative to improving segregation of
   duties over computer related functions. This segregation improved safeguards within the system
   and decreased risks of error or irregularities. The business administrator stated that this
   recommended finding was implemented.


3. Regular, timely, accurate, and complete financial reports were made to the school committee and
   the public.
   Rating: Satisfactory




                                                    101
   Evidence: School committee members who were interviewed stated they received a monthly
   financial report from the business administrator. The receipt of this report was an item on the
   school committee agenda. Members also stated they received a quarterly report relative to trust
   funds from the Treasurer. Financial reports were available to the public via the internet or
   through attendance at school committee meetings.


4. Required local, state, and federal financial reports and statements were filed in a timely manner.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Federal and state final grant reports were reviewed by the EQA and found to be
   accurate and completed on time. The compliance report for the End-of-Year Pupil Financial
   Report was reviewed and had been completed on time.


5. The district used efficient accounting technology that integrated district-level financial
   information with the financial information of each school and program, and the district used
   forecast mechanisms and control procedures to ensure that spending was within fiscal budget
   limits.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: A review of the accounting system indicated the district used a fund-based accounting
   system with nine levels of detail that was in compliance with all financial reporting
   requirements. Budgets were developed by total district, site, school, and by function, such as
   special education, professional development, and all categories of salaried positions. Principals at
   each school did not have key access to the computer software system, but they could request the
   business administrator make transfers within their budget. Major transfers between accounts
   exceeding one thousand dollars were required to be approved by the school committee budget
   sub-committee. The salary account obligations were encumbered into the expenditure ledger
   early in the school year and monitored by the business administrator. The business administrator
   reviewed purchase order requests for proper account classification and verification of available
   funds prior to execution of the purchase order by the superintendent.




                                                   102
6. District administrators were able to accurately track spending and other financial transactions on
   a regular basis.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The financial budget system allowed for salary and all other financial obligations to
   be encumbered prior to the expenditure of funds. The monthly expenditure report detailed all
   funds encumbered to date. The business administrator reviewed all purchase orders to assure
   funds were available prior to execution of the purchase order by the superintendent.


7. The district reviewed student achievement data and the reviews were reflected in the district‟s
   financial decisions.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the period under review, operating budgets were reduced each year and
   preservation of classroom teachers and maintaining acceptable class sizes were reported to be the
   priority when the budget was deliberated. The superintendent and others reported that when there
   were severe budget constraints during the period under review and staff and other expenses had
   to be reduced, the priorities were to preserve classroom teachers and maintain an acceptable
   student to teacher ratio. However, the MCAS test score analysis indicated that more emphasis
   needed to be placed on math and the superintendent stated that emphasis was placed in that area,
   particularly at the middle and elementary schools. Subsequent to this evaluation, resources were
   provided to put math on the first year of the district‟s curriculum renewal cycle, although this
   was outside the period under review.


8. The district regularly employed:
   a. certified business officials,
   b. purchasing agents with MCPPO credentials,
   c. independent financial auditors and implemented their recommendations to ensure efficient
       and quality financial systems, and
   d. objective and independent treasurers and a separate auditor.*




                                                  103
    *This portion of indicator 8 is applied to regional academic and vocational-technical school
   districts.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: Documentation submitted to the EQA, as well as information provided in an
   interview with the superintendent, indicated that the district employed a certified school business
   administrator with MCPPO credentials during the period under review for FY2002 and FY2003.
   The present business administrator was not certified but was actively pursuing certification and
   expected to receive it soon.


   No employee of the school district had MCPPO credentials. In an interview it was stated a town
   coordinator from the district had some MCPPO training, but did not make direct purchases on
   behalf of the school district.


   Management letters for the period under review were discussed with district administrators.
   Administrators resolved or were in the process of resolving the findings listed in the letters. The
   district had a treasurer and separate independent auditing firm. The job description and
   employment contract of the treasurer was reviewed.


9. The district had a system in place to:
   a. ensure that state bidding laws were followed;
   b. monitor special revenue funds, revolving accounts, and fee structures related to them to
       ensure that they were managed and used efficiently; and,
   c. monitor and track instructional assets, such as texts, materials, supplies, and equipment to
       ensure efficient and maximum utilization.
   d. regularly, at least every five years, competitively procure independent financial auditing
       services
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: In interviews with the superintendent, it was stated that the business administrator and
   the superintendent were responsible for ensuring that state bid laws were followed. The



                                                   104
   superintendent signed all purchase orders. Formal bid specifications were prepared by the
   business administrator and the facilities coordinator. The district did not submit project requests
   for proposals to the central register. The district advertised requests for proposals in three local
   newspapers. The district performed limited cooperative purchasing with the town and limited
   procurement from state contracts.


   A FY2004 management letter finding stated the need to improve student activity fund
   procedures. The finding stated that the district had not yet accepted the student activity fund
   legislation which allowed individual schools to administer student activities and maintain
   minimum cash balances. The district has had the same independent financial auditing firm
   providing services since the early 1990s without competitive procurement.


   Standard      15.    SUPPLEMENTAL,             CAPITAL,        AND       FACILITIES        ASSET
   MANAGEMENT: For the period under examination, the district maintained adequate
   accounting and financial reporting procedures and used them to acquire and efficiently manage
   supplemental funding and to promote student achievement and accountability to the public. The
   condition, management, and maintenance of facilities encouraged public support for education
   and were conducive to promoting high levels of student achievement.


   Preliminary Finding(s):
      Although the regional high and middle school had been recently constructed or renovated,
       and the communities of Westminster and Ashburnham were responsible for capital
       expenditures for the elementary schools, during the period under review, no long-term capital
       plan was in place in the district.

   Indicators:
1. Educational and program facilities were of adequate size, clean, safe, well-lit, maintained, and
   conducive to promoting the learning process.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The EQA team conducted site visits at the five schools in the district. The regional
   high school, originally constructed in 1960 as a junior/senior high school, was renovated as a
   senior high school in 2003. The middle school was constructed in 1995. One elementary school


                                                   105
   in Westminster was constructed in 1993 and another in 2003. These four schools were in good
   condition, according to the EQA site visit.


   The elementary school in Ashburnham was constructed in 1968 with a minor addition in 1990.
   The district‟s self assessment of this school‟s general condition rated it as in poor condition. A
   tour of this facility confirmed this poor rating. Although the facility was clean and well-
   maintained, there were inadequate educational space and storage areas. A small class was
   observed being conducted in an area adjacent to a corridor. A classroom was divided by filing
   cabinets and learning sessions were being conducted in these divided areas. A small special
   education class was being conducted on the cafetorium stage. School administrators stated that
   the cafetorium had inadequate seating capacity when all parents were invited to a school
   function. The school had two portable classrooms. The FY2005 capital plan itemizes
   requirements for roof and gutter repairs, boiler replacement, and repaving of the parking lot for
   this school.


2. The district had a long-term capital plan that was reviewed regularly and revised as needed with
   input from all appropriate stakeholders.
   Rating: Unsatisfactory


   Evidence: There was no evidence that a capital plan was developed for the years under review.
   A capital plan was developed for FY2005 which contains prioritized ratings for projects for the
   next three fiscal years.


3. The district implemented formal preventive maintenance programs for buildings and equipment.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district contracted each year for boiler, generator, elevator, fire alarm, and fire
   extinguisher preventive maintenance. The district had their own electrical and grounds
   maintenance personnel. The district had schools constructed and rehabilitated during the period
   under review. Custodians and maintenance personnel conducted building checks on all facilities




                                                  106
   during the weekends. The DOE required that school districts with new construction develop a
   preventive maintenance program for these facilities.


4. The district spent at least 50% of its combined foundation maintenance and extraordinary
   maintenance targets each fiscal year during the period under examination. (See 603 CMR 38.14).
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: In accordance with DOE maintenance compliance section 214 and a review of the
   district‟s End-of-Year Pupil and Financial Report, the district spent in excess of 50 percent of its
   combined foundation maintenance and extraordinary maintenance targets each year during the
   period under review.


5. The district tracked its capital assets in accordance with GASB No. 34.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district‟s annual financial statement prepared by an independent auditor for the
   fiscal year ending June 30, 2003 stated that the district has met the requirements of GASB No.
   34.


6. The district implemented procedures for the appropriate expenditure of monies from all
   supplemental sources of revenue, goods, services, endowments, foundations, and donations.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district had a fund-based accounting system in which supplemental sources of
   revenue were segregated. Separate funds were accounted by federal, state, private and other
   categories with function codes within these major fund accounts. The business administrator
   monitored all accounts on a continuing basis. All special education accounts and grants were
   monitored by the director of special education. There was also a formal purchase order process
   for the purchase of all goods and services.




                                                   107
7. The district implemented a critical review process to assess the effectiveness and appropriateness
   of supplemental expenditures to ensure that they were used for the purpose intended and to
   improve student achievement.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the period under review, when operating budgets were being reduced, the use
   of supplemental expenditures became important to ensure they were used to improve student
   achievement. Special education accounts and grants were monitored by the director of special
   education to ensure compliance with grant requirements.


8. In addition to entitlements, the district obtained competitive grants to supplement and support its
   efforts to improve academic achievement for all students.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: During the period under review, the district obtained a number of competitive state
   grants, including grants for early intervention literacy, Kindergarten transition, history and social
   studies, as well as grants from the Ashburnham and Westminster cultural councils.


9. The district coordinated the management and use of grants in an efficient manner.
   Rating: Satisfactory


   Evidence: The district‟s accountant monitored the grant expenditures, while the early childhood
   grants coordinator was responsible for overseeing the entitlement and competitive grant
   applications. The grants coordinator, in collaboration with the district administrators, directed the
   efficient use of grants.




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                           Appendix A: Proficiency Index (PI)
The Proficiency Index is a metric used to measure and compare all schools and school districts
regarding their performance on each of the MCAS tests. There are three indices: The Average
Proficiency Index (API), the English Language Arts Proficiency Index (EPI) and the Math
Proficiency Index (MPI). The index is developed as follows:

The Proficiency Index is a measure of the level of achievement a district, school, grade, or
subgroup has made in relation to the proficiency achievement level on the annual MCAS test. The
Proficiency Index is calculated as follows:
       Percentage of students scoring 200-208 on test       x     0=A
       Percentage of students scoring 210-218 on test       x    25 = B
       Percentage of students scoring 220-228 on test       x    50 = C
       Percentage of students scoring 230-238 on test       x    75 = D
       Percentage of students scoring 240 or more on test   x   100 = E

The Proficiency Index (PI) equals the sum of A + B + C + D + E = PI

Example: The Governor Ambrose High School had the following results for the 2001 MCAS
test:
      12% of all students scored 200-208; therefore, 12% x 0 = 0
      15% of all students scored 210-218; therefore, 15% x 25 = 3.75
      21% of all students scored 220-228; therefore, 21% x 50 = 10.5
      34% of all students scored 230-238; therefore, 34% x 75 = 25.5
      18% of all students scored 240 or more; therefore, 18% x 100 = 18.0

The Proficiency Index is calculated by adding: 0 + 3.75 + 10.5 + 25.5 + 18 = 57.75

     The Proficiency Index for the Governor Ambrose High would be: 57.75
     The MPI would use the same calculation for all students taking the math exam.
     The EPI would use the same calculation for all students taking the ELA exam.

The 100 point Proficiency Index is divided into six Proficiency Categories as follows: 90-100 is
„Very High‟ (VH), 80-89.9 is „High‟ (H), 70-79.9 is „Moderate‟ (M), 60-69.9 is „Low‟ (L), 40-
59.9 is „Very Low‟ (VL), and 0-39.9 is „Critically Low‟ (CL).




                                              109
                          Appendix B: Ashburnham-Westminster’s Chapter 70 Funding and NSS FY1996-2004



       FY    Foundation    Pct     Foundation    Pct        Required        Chapter    Pct          Required       Pct         Actual     Pct       Dollars      Pct
                                                                              70
             Enrollment    Chg       Budget      Chg          Local           Aid      Chg         Net School      Chg       Net School   Chg     Over/Under    Over/

                                                           Contribution                           Spending(NSS)              Spending             Requirement   Under

      FY96       2,327             12,192,075               4,395,045      6,006,323                 10,401,368              11,830,689             1,429,321     13.7
      FY97       2,402       3.2   12,696,048     4.1       4,892,196      6,627,841       10.3      11,520,037     10.8     12,931,132     9.3     1,411,095     12.2
      FY98       2,351      -2.1   12,763,133     0.5       5,239,415      6,845,795        3.3      12,085,210      4.9     13,392,498     3.6     1,307,288     10.8
      FY99       2,305        -2   13,047,875     2.2       5,467,934      7,277,459        6.3      12,745,393      5.5     14,368,102     7.3     1,622,709     12.7
      FY00       2,369       2.8   13,493,530     3.4       5,906,857      7,770,065        6.8      13,676,922      7.3     15,452,171     7.5     1,775,249          13
      FY01       2,390       0.9   14,111,599     4.6       6,151,152      8,188,315        5.4      14,339,467      4.8     16,569,291     7.2     2,229,824     15.6
      FY02       2,378      -0.5   14,809,878     4.9       6,363,556      8,446,322        3.2      14,809,878      3.3     16,467,569    -0.6     1,657,691     11.2
      FY03       2,370      -0.3   15,175,290     2.5       6,634,546      8,540,744        1.1      15,175,290      2.5     16,585,267     0.7     1,409,977      9.3
110




      FY04       2,384       0.6   15,782,673          4    6,994,722      8,787,951        2.9      15,782,673          4   16,839,504     1.5     1,056,831      6.7
       FY    Dollars per Foundation Enrollment                  Percentage of Foundation          Chapter 70 Aid
                                                                                                        as
                                                                                                   Pct of Actual
                                                                                                       NSS

                  Fnd.    Ch 70    Actual NSS                    Ch 70      Required   Actual
                Budget       Aid                                                NSS      NSS
      FY96       5,239    2,581         5,084                     49.3         85.3       97          50.8
      FY97       5,286    2,759         5,383                     52.2          90.7   101.9          51.3
      FY98       5,429    2,912         5,697                     53.6          94.7   104.9          51.1
      FY99       5,661    3,157         6,233                     55.8          97.7   110.1          50.7
      FY00       5,696    3,280         6,523                     57.6        101.4    114.5          50.3
      FY01       5,904    3,426         6,933                         58      101.6    117.4          49.4
      FY02       6,228    3,552         6,925                         57        100    111.2          51.3
      FY03       6,403    3,604         6,998                     56.3          100    109.3          51.5
      FY04       6,620    3,686         7,064                     55.7          100    106.7          52.2

								
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