Excellence in the Everett Public Schools

Special to the Independent

Highlights from Around the District

The Everett Public Schools (EPS) recently completed the exhaustive and intense Tiered Focus Monitoring Review administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. And in a tremendous and thorough exhibit of competence and dedication, the EPS was determined to be in compliance with all 39 standards and three indicators.

“I do not want to say this is unprecedented, but I can say that it is very rare and incredibly impressive,” said Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani. “I am beyond happy for every person who works and contributes to our special education program. This is the definition of a team honor.”

While the review process was overseen by Special Education Director William Donohue, it depended on important contributions from educators in every school in the EPS. “Our educators, paraprofessionals, and support staff were fantastic at every step on the journey,” Mr. Donohue said. “They were responsive and thoughtful, and this report is a credit to their work. It is an honor to collaborate with the EPS Special Education Team every day.”

The Tiered Focused Monitoring Review (TFM) took place in 2020 and 2021. Regularly monitored standards are divided into two groups of Universal Standards. Districts and schools are monitored on an alternate set of Universal Standards every three years by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Group A Universal Standards address:

· Student identification

· IEP development

· Programming and support services

· Equal opportunity

Group B Universal Standards address:

· Licensure and professional development

· Parent/student/community engagement

· Facilities and classroom observations

· Oversight

· Time and learning

· Equal access

Everett’s TFM began in the spring of 2021 with a self-assessment, a review of relevant records and documents, and the establishment of a timeline. The review continued in the summer and fall of 2021 with a series of meetings with the state, and the submission of follow-up materials.  It concluded in the fall of 2021 with an onsite visit. DESE officials toured three EPS schools, interviewed 13 staff members, compiled a parent survey, and conducted what is called a “folder review” of 14 students.

During the review of student records, DESE selected a sample of student records from those the district reviewed as part of its self-assessment, as well as records chosen by the Department from the special education student roster. The onsite team conducted this review, using standard Department procedures, to determine whether procedural and programmatic requirements have been met.

“That provides a clear glimpse into how thorough the process is,” said Superintendent Tahiliani. “DESE looks at things with wide and narrow lenses. We will never stop moving forward, or cease seeking improvement in any and all areas. But I am proud of what the TFM report says about our Special Education Department and the quality of its work.”

In its formal letter to the district, DESE wrote: “We are pleased to tell you that the Department has found your district to be in compliance with all of the criteria monitored during the TFM Review and no corrective action is required at this time. We would like to thank the administration and staff who shared their time and thoughts so generously during the preparation and onsite phases of the review, and we commend you on your commitment and diligence in the areas reviewed under TFM.”

The Need for Speed

The EPS is in the process of planning Acceleration Academies for the February and April vacations for students who need help in meeting grade-specific academic standards and curricula. The academies, which are strongly endorsed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, will be offered in two four-day blocks — February 22-25 and April 19-22.

Acceleration academies are an evidenced-based intervention method that are proven to boost academic performance. Everett’s academies will be led by certified EPS teachers. Instruction will be geared towards English Language Arts and math. Lesson plans will be developed by EPS educators and administrators in accordance with DESE standards. Daily sessions will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Everett introduced academies during the 2020-2021, embracing the funding opportunities DESE makes available for these efforts. “I am a big believer in academies, and I applaud our staff for implementing them last year and making important adjustments and refinements to our plans for the approaching February and April breaks.”

Priceless Partnerships

The EPS is launching a pilot after-school program at the Lafayette School in partnership with the Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI) and the Haitian Community Center.

The program will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the Lafayette. Students will receive tutoring and can participate in enrichment opportunities in music, art, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

 The mission of the Immigrant Family Services Institute is to provide targeted support and enrichment services, using a holistic approach that addresses the unique challenges of immigrant children to maximize their full potential in school and beyond.

This pilot program, which is offered Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the Lafayette School, will feature enrichment activities including musical instrument instruction, choral activities, physical fitness, and art.

The Haitian Community Center is a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of Everett. It partnered with the EPS on a tremendously successful summer program in 2021, and the IFSI program is another important step in broadening and deepening the connection between the EPS and the Haitian Community Center.

Everett’s afterschool programming is overseen by Manager of Extended Learning Amanda Hoover.

The EPS is also pleased to announce that it is offering a significant tuition discount to qualified educators to enroll in the Educational Leadership Program at Salem State University. This program, which is 100-percent online, supports candidates through coursework and guided fieldwork aligned with the Massachusetts requirements for principal/assistant principal licensure.

Thanks to the partnership with Salem State, Everett educators can complete the course at a reduction of more than $8,000.

“Thanks to our Director of Remote Learning and Instruction, Anne Auger, for working so hard to create opportunities for career development and professional growth,” said Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani. “The EPS has made huge strides over the past year in expanding the assistance and offerings we extend to our educators.”

The Verdict is Victory

The Everett High School mock trial team won the first of its three first-round competitions as part of a massive statewide competition administered by the Massachusetts Bar Association.

This year, 96 public and private schools, divided into 16 regions, are taking part in the tournament. Each team participates in three trials, virtually, with the winners of each region advancing to the next round of the tournament. In the first event of the season, EHS students assumed the role of the prosecutor in our trial against the MacDuffie School but will be representing the defendant in our next two trials.

The EHS team is led by advisor and history teacher Carolyn MacWilliam.

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s Mock Trial Program offers high school students across the Commonwealth the opportunity to test their skills as lawyers and witnesses in a simulated courtroom competition. Participants learn about the fundamentals of the American judicial system and how it can impact their lives.

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