When the MCAS results were released last week, the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School was classified by the state as a Level 1 school, placing it among the top 25% of schools in the Commonwealth.
The Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School was the only middle school in Framingham and Natick to achieve the highest rating by the state (level 1). The school recently had its
The Level 1 rating means the middle school is meeting the needs of its 269 students enrolled (It has more than 300 students in 2012-13). More than a majority of the students come from the communities of Framingham and Natick. The regional charter school accepts students in grades 6-7-8 from eight MetroWest communities: Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, Southborough and Sudbury, via a lottery in the spring.
"The high level of student achievement and our narrowing of the achievement gap are the result of students, teachers, parents and school leaders working together to ensure all scholars are learning and engaged through a rigorous Expeditionary Learning program," said Director Kristin Harrison.
Based on 2011-2012 enrollment, about one out of every three students are classified as special education, more than 15% of the student body receives free and/or reduced lunch and 4% of the students are English language learners.
. (Attached to this report is the MCAS report for each middle school and how it does with closing the achievement gap.)
Harrison said the charter school's special education inclusion program, where students, who have learning disabilities, are in class with their peers and are co-taught with a core teacher and special education teacher, is one reason why McAuliffe has been able to close the achievement gap for that sub-group of students.
Another reason why the school does a good job of narrowing the achievement gap between sub groups of students (special education, English language learners and low income students), is that the charter school assesses students every 6 to 8 weeks, said Harrison. The teachers get the data within 24 hours and can respond to needs and identify where the gaps are and how to help each student individually, she said. We learn very quickly what is working and what is not, and make adjustments just as quickly, she explained.
She said teachers use differentiated learning in the classroom to meet each student's needs. Some kids are kinetic learners, some are visual learners, said Harrison; and the teachers work to meet the needs of all students in their classroom. They try a variety of approaches to learn one concept, she added.
Harrison said the school's X-block, may be another reason for the narrowing of the achievement gap.
During the final 40 minutes of the day, teachers can pull groups of students together to provide targeted intervention. Students, who understand the concept can work on homework or an enrichment project, Harrison explained; but struggling students can get extra help, without delaying the learning of the entire class.
She said X-block helps all students with the application of study and organizational skills, too. It also helps students prioritize their work. For example, if a student is struggling with math, the goal is to have that student work on math during X-block where they can ask questions or get help from a teacher, as opposed to working on math at home.
Harrison said while McAuliffe was the only school to receive the Level 1 classification, she is working with new Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott on ways the four Framingham middle schools can collaborate.
The two school leader's paths have crossed before they arrived in Framingham. Both have mentioned the possibility of working together, since Scott was hired earlier this spring.
"We can take what is really good in each school and figure out how to make it work for all students," said Harrison. "I'm excited to collaborate with Framingham."
Editor's Note: My child is enrolled at the McAuliffe Charter School as a 6th grade student this year.