Dec 17th, 2013 by pritchro
The concept of “schooling” in the United States means many different things to many different people. Because of this, it is easy for many communities to lose focus as to the role that our schools should play in American society. As we approach the “mid-year point” here at MACS, it is important to remind ourselves that helping students succeed academically is our primary mission. According to Harvard University professor, Dr. Richard Elmore, educators can best serve their students by actively engaging students in classroom instruction that emphasizes rigorous and relevant content, taught by highly skilled teachers (Elmore, 2008 – see link to article below). This model of improved student learning is referred to as the “instructional core.” As the chief of instruction here at MACS, I would like to take this opportunity to ask all employees, students, and families in our community to focus and re-focus on the three elements of our instructional core – a highly competent teaching staff, a high quality curriculum, and students who are actively engaged in their own learning.
Our staff has worked diligently on creating curriculum that reflects fewer, clearer, and higher standards of student learning. This curriculum is:
1. Aligned with college and work expectations (so that all students are prepared for success upon graduating from high school);
2. Inclusive of rigorous content and applications of knowledge through higher-order skills (so that all students are prepared for the 21st century);
3. Internationally benchmarked (so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society).
The skills and knowledge that the teachers bring to the classroom have been enhanced by professional development opportunities offered throughout the year. However, the piece that is too often missing or underdeveloped in our instructional core is active engagement by our students. Dr. Elmore states that, “Americans are much more comfortable talking about changing content and teaching than they are about changing the role of the student in the instructional process.” As we approach the mid-year point, I strongly encourage all members of this community of learners to renew their awareness as to whether our students are actively engaged in their own learning (and to not be distracted by those activities that do not promote and protect the instructional core). Children are more engaged in student-centered classrooms where they are encouraged to generate and apply content in an active manner. We are developing instructional techniques at MACS that focus more on what students “do” in relation to what is to be learned rather than knowledge that is acquired through rote memorization.
We will keep you updated on the progress of our young learners and our continued focus on the instructional core throughout the year. As a side note, most communications that I receive from families and the public at-large are often unrelated to academic issues. While I certainly enjoy discussing a range of topics, please remember that as superintendent, most of my day is centered on protecting and promoting the instructional core as our main mission here at MACS. With that in mind, please contact me if I can be of any assistance toward helping your student become more actively engaged in his or her own learning.
Nov 18th, 2013 by pritchro
Intro: My name is Dr. Robert R. Pritchard and I am the superintendent of the Mexico Academy and Central School District. New York State Educators, on the whole, value a standards-based education coupled with higher academic expectations for our students. However, frequent criticism of student testing and APPR reform is often misperceived by those in Albany as a criticism of the Common-Core Learning Standards (CCLS). On the contrary, most (if not all) of us are in favor of higher standards and are willing to make the effort required to achieve those standards. We agree with Commissioner King that we need to a better job preparing our students to be competitive in a global, 21st Century workplace…we get that. Our concerns with CCLS are largely centered on implementation and execution related issues. My testimony this evening addresses the elements of the CCLS that foster student success and those elements that need to be remedied.
PROS – elements of CCLS implementation that are working in our communities. Positive features of CCLS:
1. Websites such as PTA.org and EngageNY.org provide videos and web-based information for parents and educators that promote best practices in the classroom and at home.
2. NYSED has introduced prescriptive “turnkey” instructional supports – especially, ELA and Math Learning Modules. Further, because the modules aren’t perfect, we appreciate the flexibility that school districts have been allowed in order to adapt or create curriculum and instructional programs that are aligned with the CCLS. How we achieve the standards should still very much be a matter of local control.
3. The CCLS themselves suggest a narrower curriculum that is rigorous, and connected to internationally-benchmarked standards. These standards are designed to ensure that students leave school with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college and the workforce.
CONS – elements of CCLS implementation that need to be remedied:
1. School districts don’t have management information systems that can adequately handle the data required for teacher evaluations in support of CCLS implementation. These evaluation systems are a product of Race to the Top legislation. Burdensome APPR plans are labor- and capital-intensive and school administrators lack the means to effectively implement these human resource controls.
2. Student performance data needs to be available in real-time in order to provide parents and teachers with the ability to immediately intervene and support struggling students. Automated student data collection, subsequent analysis and related decision-support tools need to be improved and deployed in our schools. Student information systems need to be adaptive, diagnostic and prescriptive in accordance with student needs…The current system relies too heavily on less-than-timely, end-of-year, high stakes tests that may or may not be aligned with the standards nor what was taught in accordance with the vendor-driven learning modules. The NYS Assessments, as they are currently designed, seem to be better suited toward supporting teacher evaluation than supporting student mastery of the Common-Core.
3. The current model for remediation or Academic Intervention Services (AIS) is broken. Economically disadvantaged students within our schools are still marginalized. Remediation practices still stress homogenous (or “tracked”), lower-ability instructional grouping. The 2012-2013 NYS Grades 3-8 assessment data indicate that over 70% of the students in Oswego County (many of whom are economically disadvantaged) failed to meet an acceptable level of performance as defined by the NYSED.
4. Most of our schools still lack the financial capacity to field rigorous, relevant, 21st Century academic programs.
Summary: We value CCLS but feel that some of the elements associated with its implementation need to be remedied:
• The question persists: What is NYSED’s plan to better use data to improve instruction and identify student weaknesses? Testing and related accountability systems are seriously flawed to the point where decisions are based on invalid or less-than-timely information. Schools need real-time, teacher-friendly, student information systems. These information systems (e.g., Link-it) can support instructional decisions made at the classroom level (as they happen) as opposed to a high stakes, end-of-year assessment that may or may not be aligned to a CCLS-based course of study.
• Districts lack the financial capacity to promote heterogeneous (mixed-ability) instructional grouping and related AIS programming that promotes career and college readiness for all students – regardless of zip-code, level of economic advantage, or ability level. We suggest school-aid formulas be reviewed and adjusted to make this situation more equitable and drive resources to where they are needed the most. Having uniform standards is commendable as long as our students have uniform access to an academic program that allows them to meet or exceed those standards.
Nov 8th, 2013 by pritchro
The NHS Induction Ceremony is 6:30 pm on November 19th, 2013 in the Avery Skinner Auditorium. Congratulations to the following inductees:
|Alexia Ariola (11)
||Angel Bresnahan (12)
|Elizabeth Boulais (11)
||Hannah Gardner (12)
|Alyssa Facteau (11)
||Kaylee Greco (12)
|Hunter Gowans (11)
||Alexandra Grove (12)
| Kaitlyn Linerode (11)
||Jessica Hernandez (12)
|Keeleigh Mendez (11)
||Eric Hulbert (12)
|Sarah Pietracola (11)
||Cameron Prior (12)
|Robert Pritchard III (11)
||Tracy Rector (12)
|Maura Roach (11)
||Emery Sheldon (12)
|Alyssa Ross (11)
|Andrea Ross (11)
|Victoria Towndrow (11)
43 students were academically eligible, and 21 students were accepted based on their anonymous applications which were reviewed by 5 faculty members.
Oct 22nd, 2013 by pritchro
Click on TT november december for web to get the latest edition of our school newsletter
Oct 18th, 2013 by pritchro
General Douglas MacArthur once stated that, “Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days will bear the fruits of victory.” When I was a plebe (freshman) at West Point, this was one of the phrases that I was required to memorize. Intellectually, I understood what the General meant by this phrase and I can still cite this quote verbatim, thirty years later. It was only until I became a school superintendent, and a parent of two student-athletes, that the General’s wisdom truly “sunk-in.”
Sports are not a metaphor for life – sports ARE life. The manner in which a student-athlete performs on the field is a measure of who they are off the field – in winning or losing. I am proud to say that many of our student-athletes understand this. I watch them head into battle each week, oftentimes against seemingly insurmountable odds, with smiles and hopes of achieving their personal bests. I am also proud of our coaches who know that the value of interscholastic sports cannot be measured by the statistics in the “win-loss” column. Personal dignity, honor, best effort, commitment to our team, and respect for other players are all values that transcend the game. We, as adults, can learn from the lessons that our children are teaching us through their efforts on “the fields of friendly strife.” Thank you to those who have risen above the common-level of life and have avoided some of the social media ugliness that sometimes follows defeat. Our student-athletes have shown us that victories are born out of losses, and there is much to be gained by taking the high road in life.
In order to be “career and college ready” all our students (athletes or otherwise) must have a sense of those attributes and traits that “on other days will bear the fruits of victory.” Several teachers and administrators in our school district are currently developing a course of study for our middle and high school students that will serve as a gateway to career paths. Each student, regardless of his or her own initial academic ability level, must have the opportunity to pursue a field of study that recognizes his or her own unique talents and interests. Our next steps towards career and college readiness will be to offer those courses that are transdisciplinary and connected to career and/or college opportunities that are of interest to our students. Transdisciplinary learning is defined as learning that makes connections between fields of study – in this case, science, technology, the arts, engineering, and mathematics. We will also seek opportunities to bring adult professionals from the workforce into our classrooms to help students make “real world” connections to their learning and to inspire them to explore their own unique career and/or college interests. In this regard, we will use authentic, project-based, experiential learning whenever possible. Learning, like sports, is not a metaphor for life…when done properly learning IS life.
Thank you for your continued support of our school district and all that it has to offer. As always, contact me with any concerns or questions that you may have.
Dr. Robert R. Pritchard
Oct 1st, 2013 by pritchro
Mexico, NY — The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Mexico Academy & Central School District a $1.3 million (over 3 years) grant to improve student physical fitness and health. The amount in year one is approximately $640,000. We were one of 60 schools in the U.S. to receive this funding.
The Education Department awarded 60 grants totaling nearly $32 millionMonday to local education and community-based organizations. The grants are funded through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program.
see press release at: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-nearly-32-million-local-education-agencies-and-co
Aug 21st, 2013 by pritchro
Celebrate Literacy and Family Fun!!!
The Oswego County Literacy Coalition and the Mexico Academy and Central Schools will host a Literacy Fair that promises to be fun for the entire family…This will be held on September 21st at the Mexico Elementary School at 26 Academy Street, Mexico, NY 13114 from Noon to 3 p.m. Admission is FREE
Some of the activities will include:
• Face Painting
• Arts & Crafts
• Door Prizes
• ARISE Unique Art Exhibit
• See ‘The Cat in the Hat’
• Kids can dress up as their favorite book character
Dig Into Reading
Sponsored by the Literacy Coalition of Oswego County and Mexico Academy & Central School District
Aug 20th, 2013 by pritchro
Welcome back to the 2013-14 School Year! In her poem, September Changes, Jessica Millsaps writes:
“September is beautiful
And awesome all the same
It’s hope for the future and the change
Comes swiftly as we sweep away…”
We’ve swept away much of the dust and debris associated with our major construction projects this past summer, and are ready to resume our journey together for the 2013-14 School Year! I hope that you had an enjoyable summer, and I want to personally welcome you back to MACS for what will surely be a productive, challenging, and enjoyable school year. As we begin anew, I welcome every student, parent, and community member to embrace the September Changes and the “hope for the future” that is part of our school culture.
Our focus this year will continue to address the three primary objectives of our Comprehensive District Education Plan (CDEP): Curriculum, Instruction, and Climate (the plan, in its entirety, can be viewed at http://goo.gl/zRxGrJ ). As in years past, student learning will be driven by a coherent, rigorous, and mapped curriculum that emphasizes Common Core Learning Standards and promotes college- and career-readiness. Students will also be actively engaged by purposeful and rigorous instruction that develops a deep understanding of the curriculum. Lastly, and most importantly, students and staff will learn and work in an environment that is safe and mutually respectful, and promotes a sense of pride, trust and open communication for all. This framework will continue to guide our actions toward delivering the best possible service to our community and students.
In recent years, we have been introduced to new learning standards, related assessments, and regulatory measures from the Commissioner of Education and the NYS Board of Regents. These initiatives and expectations have been embedded into our planning process, and we will work together toward ensuring that these new requirements support student growth. One of the new requirements is to inform parents and legal guardians of their rights under Article 61, § 3012-C of New York State Education Law to obtain information concerning the final quality rating and composite effectiveness score for the teachers and principal to which their student is assigned for the current school year. If you are a parent or legal guardian and wish to receive information related to the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) of your child’s principal and/or classroom teachers, you may request this information from the principal of your child’s school on or after September 30th.
As superintendent, I am proud of what we have achieved so far and look forward to the future accomplishments of our students. Again, welcome back to MACS and please contact me with any questions that you may have concerning our school district.
Aug 7th, 2013 by pritchro
Click on the link below to view the 2013-14 Comprehensive District Education Plan (CDEP) for Mexico Academy and Central School District at:
Aug 7th, 2013 by pritchro
Dear MACS Community,
Today, the Common Core Assessment Scores for grades 3 through 8 will be released from the New York State Department of Education. As you may already know from the news media, these scores have dropped dramatically in every school district in the State of New York. This will no doubt cause concern for educators, students, and parents.
However, when a phenomenon is this wide-spread on a scale of this magnitude, it may best be explained by the fact that the assessments are more difficult and measure a higher standard of performance – and indeed, this is the case since we have adopted the Common Core Learning Standards. Students did not necessarily learn less than they have in the past, and in many cases they have learned more, but
these new tests are measuring against a new and higher standard resulting in a new baseline.
The first year of any new standard or assessment is a baseline; this year’s assessments were the baseline of this shift in standards for our students and teachers. We will be using this test data to develop academic programming that gives our students, teachers and administrators the support they need to succeed.
In some cases, students are asked to display mastery of skills and content previously taught two or three grades later in the state curriculum. The new standards were developed in partnership with higher education. These are the standards that two-year and four-year colleges are expecting kids to know and be able to do. The new assessments are assessments against a college- and career-ready standard.
We have confidence in our teachers and support them as they continue to shift to the new expectations and standards in the common core. We have confidence in our students that, as they continue to experience the core standards, we will see a greater degree of engagement and achievement. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this change in New York State Assessments or the Common Core Learning Standards please contact either myself or your principal.