MISSION/ PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT
TEN-YEAR EVALUATION 2007
A school aware of its history and of its promise, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (L-S) is dedicated to living its mission; in fact, one of the first sights to greet a visitor to the school is a wall dedicated to the history of the school goals and principles. In addition, the Core Values and the school motto -- “Think for yourself, but think of others” -- help to convey the spirit we want to create.
This Mission Report explains some of those goals, how we perceive them, and how we hope to assess them. Those involved in putting together the statement, the rubrics and this report want to make clear that the guidelines are descriptive and not prescriptive; they grow from the dedication of the administration and staff in working with students to teach all of the principles embodied in the curriculum. We are, then, more inductive than deductive -- or, as is stated later -- more horizontal than vertical. Perhaps this concept can be best exemplified by one of the students on the Mission Committee; in preparing to address a standard required by the report, he observed, “When I think about Lincoln-Sudbury, it’s not so much that the way things get done follows the mission as that the mission follows the way things get done.” Although only a ninth grader, he caught some of the sense of the place; all that, however, does not mean that we lack established ideals and guiding principles. We have, in fact, tried to express them in this report.
The Mission Statement, Expectations for Student Learning and Rubrics attempt to encompass what we, in all areas of the school, commit to discuss and to accomplish. The trust of the community and administration that the faculty will create and convey excellent curriculum and the trust that the students will be guided by us and, at the same time, will assume some responsibility for their education and behavior are valued ideas and direct our efforts. In this report, we have consulted documents and individuals that make L-S what it is and have given a range of evidence and examples; they are, however, only representative of the school’s activities and procedures and not at all exhaustive. We have cited the February, 2007 NEASC survey results both for the questions they raise and for the support they demonstrate. We have used what has gone before, considered our statements not as final and absolute but rather as working documents, and plan to continue to review, involving all segments of the community, our Mission, Expectations and Rubrics for the future.
Our goal here is to introduce the school, to prepare the way for the reports to follow, and to illuminate its essential nature for the Visiting Committee. We welcome your observations about a place of which we are proud; we hope that we have given here some sense of the life of the school and of the mission that informs it. Based on our research, our conversations, and our plans for the future, we conclude that L-S is ACCEPTABLE in meeting the standard for Mission and Expectations for Student Learning.
The Mission Statement and Expectations for Student Learning Committee Report
Submitted: May 2007 by Judy Plott, Committee Chair
The mission and expectations for student learning shall be developed by the school community and approved and supported by the professional staff, the school board, and any other school-wide governing organization. The Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (L-S) Statement of Purpose (now Mission) has remained largely unchanged in its narrative section since it was initially developed during 1996/1997. The four members of the L-S community who were primarily responsible for drafting the school’s Statement of Purpose included: John Ritchie (Superintendent/Principal), Don Gould (Housemaster), Judy Plott (English Department Coordinator) and Bill Schechter (History Teacher).
The process began in the fall of 1996, when records regarding the school’s philosophy and Core Values were reviewed. Because the school had recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding, discussion regarding the history and principles of L-S had already occurred. As part of this process the draft committee also reviewed Statements of Purpose from our prior NEASC evaluation, material produced during the L-S-21 initiative, and results of a survey completed by students, faculty, and community members. Finally, student expectations adopted by similar schools were researched. From these documents, a draft Statement of Purpose was created and input was then solicited from: The Student Senate, School Council, Faculty, and the School Committee. In the fall of 1997, an initial draft was approved by the School Committee. On October 1, 1997, the faculty voted to approve an amended version of that draft. This process was completed on October 14, 1997, when the School Committee subsequently approved this amended version.
In the spring of 2007, a subcommittee of the Academic Council was formed to review the Statement of Purpose and Student Expectations. The committee consisted of John Ritchie (Superintendent/Principal), Virginia Blake (Math Department Coordinator/Teacher), Phil James (History Department Coordinator/Teacher), Judy Plott (English Department Coordinator/Teacher), Rosemary Colson (Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructional Services) and Leslie Belcher (Scheduling & Curriculum). Some minor changes were made such as condensing the long list of student expectations into five primary areas (3 academic, 1 social, and 1 civic). In addition, clear rubrics were added to the list of academic expectations. These changes were presented to the faculty in April, 2007; in early May, 2007 the Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee reviewed the Mission, Expectations and Rubrics and heard a presentation on the work of the Mission Committee. Plans for a standing committee representing all parts of the school community include periodic review of the Mission, Expectations and Rubrics.
The Mission Statement has been communicated to the students, parents, and community through different media. The statement itself can be found in both school and local libraries as well as the annually published Program of Studies and Student Handbook. Additional endorsement of the school’s Mission Statement are found in the Teacher Contract, the Lincoln-Sudbury Parents’ Organization (LSPO) Newsletter, as well as the official School Profile. The Mission is now readily available on the school web site and via links from the town web pages of both Lincoln and Sudbury.
Administration and faculty strive to continue communicating and emphasizing the school’s Core Values and Student Expectations. This communication includes the addition of a new exhibit at the entrance of the school building illustrating the evolution of Lincoln-Sudbury and its commitment to the school’s mission over the past 50 years. In addition, the School’s Mission is often reinforced in specific student expectation guidelines presented by educators to individual classes. Additional forums in which Core Values are communicated include -- but are not limited to -- Eighth and Ninth Grade Parent Nights as well as other school wide assemblies and informative meetings. Parents, faculty, and administration also use smaller scale parent meetings to discuss the progress of individual students in understanding and fulfilling the school’s expectations.
According to the Self-Study survey conducted by the Endicott Center for Research and Educational Advancement in February, 2007, there appears to be relatively widespread support among all members of the Lincoln-Sudbury community for the school’s Mission, Expectations and Rubrics. The results of the survey indicate substantial interest in the goals and standards of the school and much shared belief about values; at the same time, the survey results raise some questions about knowledge and review of the Mission Statement. Among students, that knowledge seems proportional to the amount of time students have been at L-S; three of the five respondents from the School Committee indicated that they had been on the Committee for 2-5 years and, therefore, a significant portion of the current Committee may not have been members when the Mission was last reviewed; the faculty indicated lack of familiarity with and lack of use of the school-wide rubrics, but the survey was taken months before the most recent review, work on, and discussion with the faculty in April, 2007. While we had parent and student representation on the Mission Committee, there is work to be done in communicating those goals and standards to the parents, students, school community, and faculty and in including all those groups in further discussion and development of these ideas.
The school’s mission statement shall represent the school community’s fundamental values and beliefs about student learning. As suggested above, the shared beliefs of the community about education are important in the life and development of the school. Our previous NEASC self-study indicated that in 1989, then Superintendent-Principal Matthew King distilled three Core Values from the Statement of Purpose. In 1991, these Core Values of the school were included in the contract and became the basis for the evaluation process. The members of the Teachers’ Association were involved in this process in that they negotiated the faculty plan with the School Committee and ratified the contract. These Core Values, approved by the faculty, were included at that time in the formal evaluation process because they represented the essential commitments in the school’s philosophy, and they continue to represent guiding principles. A school works out its philosophy and values in many ways and one of these ways is in its sense of history; there is a continuity from the first philosophy statement to the next. In addition, the school motto -- ”Think for yourself, but think of others” -- is a further statement of values; that motto was determined by a vote of the faculty and administration in 1996-1997.
As the faculty has grown, the communication of the fundamental ideas of the institution has continued in a variety of ways: faculty and house meetings discuss issues of importance to the running of the school; First Year Initiative (FYI), an orientation program for new teachers, meets regularly and schedules presentations from groups such as Peer Mediation, Central, Counseling, Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), School Psychologists, Wellness, Scheduling, Teachers’ Association, and others; the Teachers’ Association meets regularly to take up teacher concerns; the LSPO publishes a newsletter to communicate parent issues; the Student Senate and the class Steering Committees plan student activities and gather student ideas. An important group established since the last NEASC evaluation is the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC), elected at large by faculty school-wide; for several years, FAC has solicited in faculty meetings topics raised by teachers and has run a number of teacher discussion groups on issues from discipline and student behavior, to managing student stress, to planning professional development. FAC and the administration have recently had discussions about more systematic ways of gathering ideas about teaching and learning directly from students in small groups.
A number of people, individuals and groups, provide the school with observations about the success of the Mission and the Core Values. (See attachment from a letter about a school dramatic production and several issues of The Forum dealing with alumni responses.)
Lincoln-Sudbury’s Mission Statement expresses the school’s emphasis on encouraging and developing student autonomy, original thinking, and “cooperative and caring” relationships with others. The foundation for developing these skills lies within a challenging academic program and diverse range of school activities.
Lincoln-Sudbury expects students to have a strong knowledge base in academic programs; for instance, in order to graduate, students are required to take courses in computer technology, English, Fine, Applied, and Technical Arts (FATA), History, World Language, Mathematics, Science, and Wellness.
In addition, the maintenance of high academic standards helps students to develop a proficiency in critical thinking and problem solving skills. For example, in math classes, students are expected to be able to solve problems with and without the use of a calculator and to be able to select the appropriate graphical, tabular, or analytical method(s) for the particular problem s/he is trying to solve. In science classes, students are expected to be able not only to conduct experiments but also to analyze the data and come up with conclusions based on their findings; in wellness classes students gather and evaluate data in much the same way toward assessing their own physical well-being. The English Department expects students to be able to analyze readings critically; this may involve student generated questions about the readings, character analysis, textual support for judgments.
These are some examples of performance assessment to measure the kinds of higher-order thinking skills required of students.
A variety of co-curricular and academic programs encourages students to participate in the democratic process; this participation is essential to our Mission and Core Values as a school that respects and nurtures diversity. A school wide expectation is respecting the opinions of others, and that respect may be demonstrated, for example, in participation in class discussion and ability to use appropriate language and to listen respectfully to diverse opinions. The World Language Department expects students to study at least one language for two or three years and to be able both to understand and to communicate in the second language. In addition, there are over sixty clubs and over sixty sports teams in which students work with others toward a common goal. These are examples of Lincoln-Sudbury’s encouragement of students to be a part of the life of the school -- in and out of the classroom -- and to embrace diversity and the democratic process.
Through a variety of assessment tools and the respectful relationships between students and adults in the building, we encourage students to become engaged in their classes and activities and to be self-directed learners.
The school shall define school-wide academic, civic, and social learning expectations that are measurable and that reflect the school’s mission. The Mission and Expectations Statement attached includes the school-wide rubrics and definitions for them. As stated above, the curriculum involves higher-order thinking across departments measured in performance assessment, authentic assessment activities, and personalized learning. Students work both in groups and individually on assignments requiring cooperation, planning and implementations of plans. Classroom teachers assess critical thinking and problem solving through oral and written assignments and practical applications based on curriculum and designed to test students’ ability to synthesize material. In addition, the school provides technological resources for all types of projects and fosters the critical use of them where appropriate.
In connection with the communication expectation, most disciplines allow and require students to express themselves in a variety of modes: for example, listening exercises such as a language lab activity; speaking exercises such as oral reports; visual expression such as photography, painting, woodworking; musical expression; and writing exercises such as quizzes, tests, essays and note-taking. Teachers also incorporate technology into their classrooms, allowing for spatial design, investigation of historical topics, and message boards. In classes, students may be asked to imagine concepts in three dimensions and make drawings or models of them. Students are expected to speak at least one language in addition to English and to study the cultures of other language speakers. An appreciation of aesthetics fosters students’ fuller understanding of the creation and application of artistic modes. Curriculum reports from the departments will give further examples of how and when such activities are structured and evaluated. Clubs and other groups host forums and assemblies --students can serve on panels, plan, participate and attend discussions allowing a range of opinions on controversial and compelling topics.
As active participants in their own learning, students select courses in consultation with teachers, counselors and parents. Departmentally, students engage in activities geared toward self-awareness of learning style of themselves and others: from portfolio assessments in FATA, to peer editing in English, to use of heart monitors in Wellness. Departments may keep copies of previous years’ work as examples for other students or for individual reflection on progress. Outside the classroom, field trips and opportunities for work study, study abroad or independent study encourage further exploration of ideas from class work. One of the special features of Lincoln-Sudbury is Directed Study, which allows teachers to personalize instruction for students or groups of students. Teachers also have opportunities to communicate with students and parents when expectations are not met and when there is room for improvement; in addition, counselors and liaisons help students navigate their path here and in post-graduation plans.
The academic rubrics were developed as part of of an ongoing process and by a group from the Academic Council; they are designed to be measurable and levels of achievement are included. Based on documents from departments and from the Program of Studies, they will continue to be reviewed by departments; creation of standards often occurs in a horizontal rather than in a vertical manner. A good example is in developing standards for oral presentations: a multidisciplinary, representative group of teachers met to discuss what happens in each department -- what is required and how it is measured. Teachers then went back to their departments and classrooms, armed with a common mission but allowing for departmental differences in application. The faculty experiences what might be called a “uniformity of belief and of high standards” as opposed to a uniformity of detailed, specific rubrics. The current Academic Rubrics were presented by the subcommittee to the entire faculty for examination and discussion on April 11, 2007; the school will go forward with them and will set up a standing committee of all groups in the school community to review the Mission, Expectations and Rubrics.
The school shall have indicators by which it assesses the school’s progress in achieving school-wide civic and social expectations. In terms of measuring civic and social expectations, students have a graduation requirement to ensure a minimum of community service; many students exceed that minimum. In measuring progress in becoming a good citizen, the school gives students opportunities to prove skills in class discussion involving complex and controversial ideas; teachers mediate and evaluate these exchanges. The kinds of out-of-class group activities mentioned above are also instrumental in citizenship: assemblies and programs; clubs like Breaking Barriers (a multi-faith group exploring common ground); Colors (a group examining and presenting ideas on race to the school); Young Democrats and Republicans; Speech and Debate; Martin Luther King Action Project (a social justice club); Students Against Drunk Driving; Young Women’s Leadership Club; Gay-Straight Alliance; and many others. Students may take trips abroad as part of a school group or exchange and may host international visitors. Lincoln-Sudbury has a tradition of student leadership; for example, the Athletic Director gathers a group of athletes each year to serve on a board gathering student ideas about community issues (e.g., keeping the cafeteria clean). Students run the award-winning newspaper and at election time are involved in registering student voters. Amnesty International regularly sets up letter writing campaigns. Peer Mediation and Violence Prevention provide students with opportunities to confront difficult community situations -- approximately sixty mediations occur each year, involving about 200 students and staff, and approximately forty students are trained as mediators.
On a basic level, we measure student behavior through bureaucratic means: for example, awards at the end of the year for outstanding citizenship and participation; cut slips and behavior reports throughout the year for poor behavior and lack of participation in the values of the community. Every few years, the school administers a Youth Risk Behavior Survey to determine what areas are problematic: drug use, sexual behavior, mental health, relationships, conflict, and more. To address the problems, the school turns to educational campaigns: for example, workshops on depression, and Visions (an outside group dealing with multicultural conflict and anti-bias training for students and teachers). Students meet with administrators about the expectations for special events such as Senior Dress-up Day and receive feedback from them before and after the fact. The school also takes into account reports from outside sources: for example, the coordinator of student performances at a local theater has commented on the continued exemplary behavior of L-S students who attend shows there, and the Greater Boston Food Bank sends letters of appreciation regularly about our student volunteers.
Attached is a list of the formal procedures used to assess achievement of civic and social expectations. Some of the above information and information from the survey suggest ways of measuring students’ behavior and participation in the community.
The mission statement and the school’s expectations for student learning shall guide the procedures, policies, and decisions of the school and shall be evident in the culture of the school. As implied earlier, L-S values the decision making strength of all of its members; the Mission and Expectations grow out of the educational practices developed and nurtured by the faculty and the administration. For example, to assess the demonstration of critical thinking and problem solving skills, the Computer Technology requirement states that students will be able to transfer computer skills to other learning environments; the Special Education Mission includes students knowing their learning differences and developing skills and strategies to become more independent learners; the Science Department requires laboratory skills in all classes; English classes require critical analysis in writing and in speech; in school policy, mediations are a common remedy for conflict. Expressing ideas in many modes may be seen in these examples: students are required to have at least one FATA class; Computer Technology is required; World Language requires at least two years for students to develop communications skills; authentic assessments (multimodal) in many classes (presentations, projects, lab reports, performances) as well as essays and tests require versatility in communication; a time period each week (Advisor-Club-Activity (ACA) block) is built into the schedule to enable students to participate in a variety of activities involving communicating; career internships and career exploration enable students to practice the communication skills they have learned.
Active participation of students in their education occurs in examples such as: students choosing their schedules by way of the course request process; when students change levels in Math, Science, and Language, the process requires students to have a conversation with the teacher; students have the opportunity to manage some of their own time in learning (no study halls) to meet with teachers, use the library, work in study groups, work on independent projects; some students receive credit for independent study in various departments; ACA periods enable students to pursue activities and meetings; Independent Education Plans actively engage students in goal development and the development of skills and strategies for learning; the METCO Afterschool Program supports METCO students through teacher tutoring; run-down reports and student appraisal forms are available to students.
To ensure that students will meet the civic expectations, the school provides opportunities, requirements, and services such as: Community Service Requirement; wide variety of activities sponsored by the MLK Action projects such as Greater Boston Foodbank, Haley House, Habitat for Humanity trips; assemblies on social and political issues; the ‘06-’07 school goal of Connections; faculty and administrative support of student driven programs such as the Katrina Project, and Invisible Children; administrative and faculty support for a variety of Awareness days; support for Senior Seminar Day. To support the social expectations, the policies and practices of the school include: a FATA department goal to create a safe environment for cultural diversity; the Peer Helper and Peer Mediation programs; Visions anti-bias training; referral procedures for tutoring and clinical support; a number of clubs such as Colors, Gay Straight Alliance, Environmental Club; the school motto: “Think for yourself, but think of others.”
In examining the extent to which the school’s Mission and Expectations direct the policies and procedures of the school, the Mission Committee elicited responses from all areas of the school community and received numerous examples of policies, procedures, decisions, and processes that reflect the school’s mission and expectations for student learning.
The school shall review regularly the mission statement and expectations for student learning using a variety of data to ensure that they reflect student needs, community expectations, and state and national standards. The Academic Council and the Administrative Council informally and formally review the mission and expectations annually as we consider the entire Program of Studies to prepare for changes for the following year. We also review our mission annually as we develop our school goal and department goals and have included the mission as part of our goal statement in some years. When we distribute and review the school Discipline Code annually with all students, we also review the school’s Mission, Expectations for student learning, School-wide Rubrics, and Core Values. As part of the five-year report (for NEASC) in 2003, we again looked at our Core Values, goals, and objectives to develop preliminary rubrics at that time, and some teachers have shared their departmental expectations and rubrics; other departments are reviewing and preparing theirs and all students receive the Mission each year in the Program of Studies, which they and their parents use to consider scheduling decisions.
In connection with the greater community, we have yearly meetings with our colleagues from the middle schools in Lincoln and in Sudbury to discuss curriculum and other matters of interest; for example, the History department has had speakers on historical subjects for the teachers of all three schools; in 06-07, the English department presented a seminar on creative writing involving a slide display by an L-S teacher, and in this meeting we discussed methods and assignments as well as writing rubrics; departments communicate with colleagues in the towns to discuss placement of students in classes here; some department heads and teachers discuss curriculum with colleagues in surrounding towns. Annually, the school plans and administers the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exams to all sophomores (and other students who have not taken them or are retaking them), based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students also take such tests as PSAT’s, SAT’s, and AP exams, and results are communicated to the school community. Teachers meet regularly to discuss curriculum and have participated in a number of professional development activities in and out of L-S; for example, Sudbury Education Resource Foundation (SERF) grants allow teachers to pursue a range of projects, teachers are involved in Teachers as Scholars courses; some teachers have pursued National Endowment for the Humanities projects; departments are aware of literature and ideas from national organizations for each discipline such as National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
In addition, the history of the Philosophy and the Mission is displayed in the Main Office area of the school; to continue to promote the life of the school through the Mission, a series of meetings occurred during the winter and spring of 2007 among representatives of the Academic Council to review and revise the former Statement of Purpose. At a faculty meeting on April 11, the faculty reviewed and discussed the new Mission Statement, Expectations for Student Learning and School-wide Rubrics. As an ongoing examination of our Mission, we hope to establish a standing committee to maintain the values, to review the focus, to make any necessary changes, and to continue to study the Expectations for Student Learning and School-wide Rubrics of Lincoln-Sudbury.
Strengths and Needs
• The staff and community strongly support the Mission and Core Values.
• The formal evaluation process reflects and includes the Mission; this emphasis is especially important in educating teachers new to L-S in the school values and culture.
• The school-wide curriculum is challenging and varied.
• Curriculum is characterized by faculty involvement; the faculty lead curriculum design.
• The school culture fosters student responsibility.
• Relationships between staff and students are helpful and caring.
• In striving to create many ways for students to demonstrate success in the curriculum, courses and instruction are characterized by flexibility.
• The relationships between staff and administration are characterized more by partnership than by hierarchy.
• The school has a faculty driven Mission rather than a Mission driven faculty.
• The Mission extends beyond the classroom.
• We recognize the need for a standing review committee on Mission, Expectations and School-wide Rubrics, and such a committee has been proposed as part of our evaluation process for the future.
• We need opportunities and strategies for conveying our strong sense of historical identity while at the same time providing ways to evolve with new challenges and new faculty.
• We continue to work on opportunities for success for all students.
• We would like to include students more formally in discussions of teaching and learning issues.
• Because of the size of the new building and the nature of departmental areas, we recognize the need for more opportunities for discussion and interaction among the staff.
• In a related area, we need more interdepartmental time to discuss and evaluate our curriculum and standards and to communicate the Rubrics to the school community more fully.
The Mission Statement and Expectations for Student Learning Committee
Nate Armistead, History
Ned Banta, World Languages
Bethany Bernasconi, Science
Jim Berry, Technology and Special Education
Amy Butler, Special Education
Lynn Carlson, School Psychologist
Carly Evans, English and Fine, Applied & Technical Arts (Drama)
Eric Eversley, METCO
Adriel Ferguson, Student
MJ Galano, World Languages
Josh Gilman, History
Mel Gonsalves, Wellness
Mary Ann Grady, Special Education, Teaching Assistant
Tom Grandprey, Fine, Applied & Technical Arts, Committee Vice-Chair
Caroline Han, History
Angela Iandoli, World Languages
Greg Majno, Student
Mike Mayer, English
Doug McCraith, Mathematics
Marianne Oteri, Parent
Connie Patten, Science (Department Coordinator)
Judy Plott, English (Department Coordinator), Committee Chair
Jim Raffel, History
John Ritchie, Superintendent/Principal
Steve Roderick, Science, Steering Committee Liason
Dani Weisse, English
Rick Wise, Fine, Applied & Technical Arts
For previous school philosophy statements, see:
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