A Message from the Superintendent
Today marks the end of Chanukah, the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights”. As this holiday concludes and the excitement of Christmas begins for many, the significance in all religions is similar – in that hopefully both celebrations bring light to many…the hope and the promise of believing in something greater than ourselves…
So many of you, as I have once again observed have brought the magic of Christmas to so many children…many in our community have donated to the schools to help brighten the lives of others…but again because of you… many have been sparked by your genuineness and you have allowed their spirit and future to be forever brightened by your love and effort…
On Christmas Eve take a moment to gaze at that Star and know well… you have brought light to some in darkness and joy to so many…
I hope you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and I trust all will be blessed in the New Year…
Thank you for all…Merry Christmas,
A letter to HPS staff in response to the progress of the District’s MCAS scores
To our staff,
I know well how much effort you put into all…each year on most fronts we are improving …and you deserve much praise…I trust the letter below transmits our sentiments when we are not fairly portrayed…Thank you again…Jim
Dear School Committee Members,
I am writing this today to address errors and omissions in today’s Eagle-Tribune story and headline “Haverhill MCAS scores drop below state averages.”
While I rarely address newspaper errors, this one was particularly disheartening to our teachers, students, parents, and families who have worked so hard to improve the district’s MCAS performance.
First, the headline is simply not accurate. The state MCAS averages take into account every school district in Massachusetts, including 100-plus suburban districts such as Andover, Wellesley, Weston, et al. Haverhill’s MCAS scores, like every other urban district in Massachusetts, are and have always been below the state averages. The headline – that we have suddenly this year fallen below the state averages is inflammatory and again, just plain incorrect.
In this whole long ET story, there is only ONE sentence about Haverhill – that 36 percent of Haverhill students either met or exceeded expectations in English and that 34 percent met or exceeded expectations in math. That’s better than Lawrence, but below the state average of 49 and 48 respectively, and below Andover, North Andover, and Methuen. Those are the communities that were highlighted in the ET story.
The ET went on to focus on a category of analyzing MCAS scores called Student Transitional Growth Percentiles. STGP measures progress by comparing yearly changes in students’ MCAS scores with other students with similar scores in prior years. The median STGP percentiles for the state were 50 for MCAS English and 50 for MCAS math. Haverhill’s TSGP was 49 English and 49 math, just about the state averages.
The ET story highlighted and praised Lawrence’s STGP scores of 50 math and 51 English (roughly the same as Haverhill). Haverhill’s STGPs of 49 and 49 WAS NOT MENTIONED IN THE ET STORY. The story also ignored Andover’s STGP, which was below Haverhill’s at 47 math and 43 English, but highlighted North Andover (55 and 60) and Methuen (56 and 60) which were above Haverhill.
In fact, our scores show steady improvement on the traditional “Legacy MCAS” for high school students. The headline in today’s ET story and the story itself present a misleading picture of Haverhill schools, our students and the progress we are making. Again, this has caused a great deal of distress among our hardworking teachers, students, and I’m sure our parents as well as community members.
Here’s the truth about our MCAS results…
- At the high school level, we either stayed the same or improved in 94 percent of the ratings—i.e., how our various groups of students performed.
- Notably, our neediest students — those in Special Education and our English Language Learners –increased their scores in Math by 17.9 and 16.6 points respectively.
- In grades 3-8, Haverhill students performed slightly better on average than students in the other urban districts on the new MCAS test.
Next week each of our schools will be providing more detail to parents on this next generation MCAS.
My job is not to defend what we do, but to make sure we are all are doing our best. To see the hard work of our teachers, and the successes of our students misrepresented is disheartening.
Thank you again for your understanding.
A Message from the Superintendent
Tonight at sundown – the Jewish time of communal and personal atonement begins – it is a time for our Jewish brothers and sisters to meditate and reflect on how they lived their past year and a time of solemn prayer as well…As they begin this period which concludes Saturday evening let us all reflect on our own sincerity and purpose as we wish our friends the best on Yom Kippur ….It is always helpful to the fundamental purpose of public education to share the significance of such days with our students….
Thank you,Jim Scully
A Message from the Superintendent:
It may be helpful to share with your students the significance of the following so that their understanding of our world is enriched…
This coming Wednesday evening our Jewish sisters and brothers begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah – during this time ancient customs are revisited with special foods and traditions, and it’s one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. Essentially Rosh Hashanah, literally the “head of the year” is the Jewish New Year. It is a time of inner renewal and divine atonement.(from USAToday) What is Rosh Hashanah? It’s the Jewish New Year – also spelled Rosh HaShanah, Roshashana and Rosh Hashannah, among other variations – is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days and is usually celebrated in September. Due to the Jewish calendar being based on the lunar cycle – like Easter is for Christians – it moves every year. In 2016, it began October 2.When is it this year? It begins the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20, and ends on the evening of Friday, Sept. 22. In general, Orthodox and some other conservative Jews observe it from start to finish, while more liberal Jews tend to attend services only on the first full day, in this case Thursday, Sept. 21.What happens during Rosh Hashanah? Though it depends on which Jewish tradition is being followed, much time is spent at a synagogue. During services, a hollowed-out ram’s horn, known as a shofar, is blown, symbolizing a call to repentance. Many Jews also observe a tradition called tashlich, meaning “casting off” in Hebrew, in which they go to a nearby river or lake and throw pieces of bread, which signifies the washing away of sin.My thoughts…In this time of reflection as celebrated by those of the Jewish faith…so should us all…take a moment to share in this rich tradition and reflect on our own lives…are we fair…are we judgmental…do we look to see the good in all…what are we really all about ?The history of the world is entwined around the history of religions…let us all cherish the value and meaning of this diverse world we live in…To our friends of the Jewish Faith…Happy New Year…Jim Scully
A Message from the Superintendent
I hope this letter finds you and your family refreshed and reenergized to begin a new school year. This year brings the full occupancy of the new Hunking School as a grade K-8 building in the Bradford section of Haverhill. The school district will be rolling out two advanced programs in all schools aimed at pushing academic performance among all students in all grades.
Whether you are the parent of a Kindergartener starting school for the first time, a high school senior entering the final year of their Haverhill Public Schools’ career or have children in several grade levels – elementary, middle or high school, being a parent and raising a child is no easy task. The challenges we encounter in society are substantial.
Below please find pertinent information relative to the upcoming school year. Each school has a wealth of information on their webpages that you may find helpful. Please visit our website www.hillie.org for both school and district news.
The staff of the Haverhill Public Schools is committed to providing your child with the best education in a positive, healthy, and secure school environment which will support your efforts at home. In that vein, please make sure throughout the school year, your child’s school has updated cell phone numbers for emergencies and current email addresses for general notices. Please contact your school principal, who is a strong ally in your child’s education and well-being, if you have any issues or concerns.
In closing, thank you for believing in the Haverhill Public Schools and enrolling your children in our schools. As Superintendent, I can attest that our staff members take this responsibility very seriously and are committed to doing what is in the best interest of all children entrusted to their care.
Best wishes for a successful school year. Sincerely,
James F. Scully
Superintendent of Schools
A Message from the Superintendent
Last week during the visit of Malcolm Mitchell to the Tilton school, where he read to the first grade students and to all first grade students in the city via a telecast – one of our teachers went up and asked if he could have his photo taken with him. He began the request by saying “I’m really not an important person but I’d love to have my picture taken with you.” Malcolm Mitchell immediately responded … “Don’t say that you are not important, you are the reason I am here, because of people like you that have turned my life around – had patience and understanding – taught me to read and helped me to get into college and ultimately allowed me to be honored with a position on the New England Patriots…”So this week across the nation we say thank you and we recognize the hard work, the care, and compassion of so many teachers across this great country of ours. On behalf of so many in the City of Haverhill and beyond – Thank you…Also this week – we recognize our nurses – for they like our teachers – help mend the wounds, both physical and emotional, with a special blend of love and kindness. In our schools and in our health care institutions, it is the nurse that goes that extra mile to make sure our needs are met. Now matter how small a wound may be on a first grade child’s finger or during a crisis when seconds count – it is the nurse that is there with skill and confidence. Therefore, we all need to pause and reflect on the kindly care from such a talented group that has at one point or another in our lives – touched us in such a caring and gentle way…As we go through this week – take a moment to look within and appreciate the pride that is so evident on your faces as you see the success of your efforts in helping others…Thank you all…and God Bless you…Jim Scully