Middle School Review

Project Summary

  • As a district, we receive regular questions about how to best provide middle school grade programming in K-8 schools; how to ensure that every student is prepared for high school, and how to appropriately distribute resources equitably across our system. To start addressing these questions, we will engage in a wide-ranging middle school study throughout the 2022-23 school year.

    The purpose of the study is three-fold:

    1. Highlight and elevate effective components of our current middle school model.

    2. Better understand areas of need and potential improvement at the middle school level.

    3. Clearly define the district’s approach to middle school schedules going forward and the types of experiences students and families can expect from grades 6-8.

    In order to support this work, we will partner with New Solutions K-12 (NSK12). NSK12 is a Boston-based education consultancy with expertise in school schedules and school operations. They will engage a wide range of stakeholders through interviews, focus groups, and surveys and conduct a robust review of the district’s middle school course offerings, staffing, and programming to identify recommendations related to how the district might strengthen its approach to middle schools.

    DISCOVERY Stage final report and summary

    Middle School Review project timeline

Current Progress:

  • The DISCOVERY Stage is complete. We are Currently in DESIGN.

    Complete List of DESIGN Stage Focus Groups

    Please note that this list is a living document. It will be updated as meeting times are finalized and additional meetings may be scheduled as appropriate.

    See "Engagement Opportunities" below for more details about the focus groups.

     

    DISCOVERY Stage final report and summary.

Contact

Project Updates

  • DESIGN STAGE Focus Groups

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 9/15/2023 9:00:00 AM

    We are conducting a round of focus groups connected to Stage 2 of our middle school review that will provide a chance to offer input on the future vision of middle school schedule guidelines in the district. These focus groups will be facilitated by staff from New Solutions K-12 and responses will remain confidential.

    If you are interested, please RSVP using this link.

     

    For additional details and context, please read below:

    As the school year begins, we are continuing our Middle School Review work with Stage 2: DESIGN.

     

    In the DESIGN Stage we will use the information gathered during the DISCOVERY Stage, along with research on best practices for middle grade students, to determine how we might improve our middle school program. This Stage will focus on generating ideas and prioritizing them so that we can develop an implementation plan rooted in our community values and research-based practices.

     

    The DESIGN Stage itself will consist of two parts focused on Scheduling and Staffing and we will be narrowing the list of priorities for change and developing strategies for meeting those priorities.

     

    For additional background on the project, including the report and presentation from Stage 1: DISCOVERY, please see the other posts on this page.

     

    Full List of Available Focus Groups

    Curriculum coordinators and district-level leaders Th 9/21/2023 1:30 - 2:15
    Curriculum coordinators and district-level leaders Tu 9/26/2023 2:45-3:30
    Principals and vice principals Th 9/27/2023 3:30 - 4:15
    Principals and vice principals W 10/2/2023 3:30 - 4:15
    Core content and world language teachers Th 10/05/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Core content and world language teachers M 10/16/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Core content and world language teachers W 10/25/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Core content and world language teachers W 11/01/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Special education and English language (EL) teachers W 10/11/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Special education and English language (EL) teachers Th 10/19/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Special education and English language (EL) teachers M 10/23/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Art and PE teachers Th 10/12/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Art and PE teachers W 10/18/23 3:15 - 4:00
    Conservatory teachers TBD TBD
    Guidance counselors Tu 11/14/2023 2:45 - 3:30
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  • DESIGN Stage Summer 2023 through Winter 2024

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 9/11/2023 1:00:00 PM

    STAGE II: DESIGN (Summer 2023 - Winter 2024)

    In the Design Stage we will use the information gathered during the Discovery Stage, along with research on best practices for middle grade students to determine how we might improve our middle school program. This Stage will focus on generating ideas and prioritizing them so that we can develop an implementation plan rooted in our community values and research based practices.

     

    Unlike Stage 1, the DESIGN Stage will consist of two parallel work streams focused on scheduling and staffing respectively.

     

    Part I: Identify and Finalize a Prioritized Set of Improvements to Middle School Programming and Schedules

    The ultimate goal of this part of the work will be to create two short but impactful lists: first, a set of programming and scheduling practices that will be consistent across all middle schools in the district; and second, a set of programming and scheduling practices that schools will have flexibility in implementing based on school priorities and student needs.

     

    Part II: Establish Clear Middle School Staffing Guidelines

    In many ways, staffing and scheduling are two sides of the same coin. Schedules cannot be created without clarity on staff and staffing practices, just as schedules cannot run without staff. To further help guide and inform scheduling and staffing in the district beyond the scope of part I of the work outlined above, New Solutions K12 will also help the district create a set of staffing guidelines that reflect the nuances and differences of the middle schools in the district. It was determined during stage I of this work that there is no universal expectation or definition of what constitutes a “full” workload for middle school classroom teachers, which results in uneven use of teacher time and talent.

    New Solutions K12 will partner with district leaders to address these findings by establishing a clear set of middle school-specific staffing ratios and class size guidelines.

    Note: New Solutions K12 will not be party to any collective bargaining agreement (CBA) discussions and the work within part II assumes no changes to the CBA—only that the district leadership will, with our help, set clear staffing and workload expectations within the current CBA.

     

     

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  • DISCOVERY Final Report

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 3/23/2023 1:00:00 PM

    The DISCOVERY Stage is complete and New Solutions provided the district with their final report. The report and summary can be accessed at the links below and to the right in the Current Progress section.

     

    Middle School Review DISCOVERY Stage Report and Summary

     

    Additionally, New Solutions K-12 Presented a summary of the report to the School Committed on March 16th, 2023.

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  • Focus Groups Complete - Next Steps

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 2/13/2023 9:00:00 AM

    With all the focus groups completed, the New Solutions K-12 (NSK12) team is now completing their analysis, recommendations, and final report.

     

    The following steps are a presentation of the executive summary to PSB leadership, a presentation of the complete report to PSB leadership, and a summary presentation to the school committee. These last presentations will finish our Discovery Stage.

    • Executive Summary Presentation to district leadership Wednesday, February 15
    • Full Report Presentation to district leadership Wednesday, March 8
    • Presentation to School Committee Thursday, March 16

     

    The results of this review will be considered throughout our strategic planning process during Spring 2023. The strategic plan will then potentially inform how we approach the Design Stage of the Middle School Review. As the strategic planning process is confirmed, additional information and opportunities for staff and community participation will be forthcoming.

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  • Student Surveys

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 12/12/2022 3:00:00 PM

    The next step in our Middle School Review is a pair of student surveys: one for middle school students and one for high school students.

    Both surveys are quite similar and ask students to reflect on their middle school experience including what is working well, what is challenging, and what might be improved.

    You can preview the survey questions below:

    MIDDLE SCHOOL QUESTIONS

    HIGH SCHOOL QUESTIONS

    These surveys are optional and all results will remain confidential. Our partners at New Solutions will be processing the results and reporting on trends and patterns. Individual student responses will not be identifiable.

    We will be posting links to these surveys as canvas messages for students so that they can take the survey at their own convenience without disrupting class time.

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  • Project Overview

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 10/20/2022

    The overall middle school review will consist of three Stages to take us from initial fact finding and data collection to implementing possible changes and revisions. All three Stages will include multiple opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

     

    This plan is subject to change as we learn from each Stage and as circumstances dictate.

     

    STAGE 0: PREPARATION (fall 2021 - winter 2022)

    In this Stage we wrote, reviewed, and submitted a Request for Proposals for the middle school review. From the submitted proposals, we selected to work with New Solutions K-12 for their expertise in scheduling and other operational components of our middle grades program.

     

    STAGE I: DISCOVERY (spring 2022 - spring 2023)

    The Discovery Stage will focus on defining our current middle school program. This will include analysis of school schedules, how each school is staffed, the programming available to students, and overall budgets. The goal of this Stage is to end with a series of reports that will allow us to enter the design phase with the most accurate data and information possible.

    Phase 1: Paperwork Review (Spring 2022 - Fall 2022)

    Analyze schedules, staffing lists, and programming


    Phase 2: Engagement (Fall 2022 - Winter 2023)

    Staff, Student, and Community focus groups & surveys


    Presentation of Stage 1 Findings (Spring 2023)

     

    STAGE II: DESIGN (expected summer 2023 - summer 2024)

    In the Design Stage we will use the information gathered during the Discovery Stage, along with research on best practices for middle grade students to determine how we might improve our middle school program. This Stage will focus on generating ideas and prioritizing them so that we can develop an implementation plan rooted in our community values and research based practices.

     

    STAGE III: IMPLEMENTATION (expected fall 2024 - summer 2026)

    The Implementation Stage will take the planning from the Design Stage and work to outline and implement those plans. This will include establishing an implementation calendar, developing budgets for any changes, and designing a support plan to ensure high quality implementation. Once any changes are made and supported, we will close the formal review process and enter an ongoing maintenance and observation mode.

     

    Project timeline

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