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Tech School to ramp up math instruction

TURNERS FALLS — With the school having slipped from Level 2 to Level 3 in the state accountability and assistance rankings following the latest round of MCAS tests, Franklin County Technical School administrators plan to step up the volume of math instruction.

Franklin Tech 10th-graders taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests in the spring scored significantly lower than their peers statewide on the mathematics portion, with 53 percent scoring in the advanced or proficient range compared to 78 percent statewide.

Tech students were on par in the other subjects, one percentage point above average in science and three below in English.

Principal Richard Martin said at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting the school’s scores have remained steady, but advances by other schools have pushed them into Level 3, the lowest performing 20 percent.

In response, Martin said the school plans to expand math instruction into the vocational portion of the student schedule for ninth- and 10th-graders beginning this school year.

Tech students alternate between periods of vocational and academic instruction.

Martin said it is difficult for students to remember what they learned in the math classroom through 10-day breaks in the shop, and Tech is currently one of the only technical schools in the state that does not offer continuous math instruction.

“We want to be in a position where our students are receiving 180 days of continuous math instruction,” said Superintendent James Laverty.

“We’re going to do a really massive approach,” Martin said.

With more details to come, Martin said the plan is to connect math lessons to skills taught in the shops and tailor instruction to individual students, both in the underperforming and advanced or proficient categories.

The five-level Department of Elementary and Secondary Education accountability system ranks schools and districts, currently based on four-year spans of MCAS data.

Levels 1 through 3 carry assessment and planning requirements at the school, district and state levels. At Level 4 those requirements merge, and at Level 5 the state takes joint control of the district or school.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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