School District takes action to improve student performance

Nov 9, 2022

Hiring more teachers, encouraging Advanced Placement classes, and teaching social skills were solutions offered by the Wareham School Committee to improve post-pandemic MCAS scores and a skyrocketing absentee rate at the Annual District and School Action Plan Report meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andrea Schwamb gave social emotional learning, providing student choice, and career preparation as possible methods to improve student engagement and learning.

Social emotional learning is an all-encompassing teaching model that focuses on helping students develop social skills such as self-awareness, explained Schwamb. Proponents say that the method provides students with necessary life skills instead of focusing solely on test scores.

“Our priority includes student choice and voice, we want [students] to know what their purpose is,” said Assistant Principal of Wareham Elementary Sara Russo.

One aspect of student choice is to provide them with a variety of courses, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and vocational courses.

According to School Committee Secretary Joyce Bacchiocchi, each pathway to success drafted in the report included students having to take Advanced Placement courses in high school— despite the fact that not every highschool student is currently enrolled in one of these classes.

“What are we giving students who don’t want to be in the I.B (International Baccalaureate) program?” asked Bacchiocchi.

Schwamb stood by the report’s suggestion.

“It’s the only way to go if we can serve viable opportunities for students when they walk out that door,” she said.

High School Principal Scott Palladino said that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses are still valuable even though some students do not take them,

“Every student has the opportunity to take I.B. courses, even if they don’t get the diploma,” said Palladino.

In addition to offering advanced courses, the high school plans on expanding their core class curriculum. According to Palladino, cuts to staffing decreased the number of math and English classes being offered in recent years. The high school plans on hiring more teachers to meet these needs.

School Committee Vice Chair Geoff Swett questioned if the state’s definition of the proficiency levels on MCAS scores was reflective of every day student performance.

“I struggle with the fact that the state believes 80% of [elementary students] sent to the middle school are under proficient in math,” he said.

Multiple Elementary School teachers said that some of their kindergarteners do not know how to read, which hampers their scores in both reading and math. If students cannot read, Russo said, they cannot understand the problems.

More on the matter will be discussed during the Middle School Council Agenda on Nov, 10.