Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekly News and Notes


We had a great week - though another short week here at UHS. We have a few updates as we get ready for midyear exams and the start of another semester, with information that will be relevant for both our current students and those who will be joining us next year.

COLLEGE NIGHT FOR JUNIORS
College Night for juniors and their parents on Wednesday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m.  Paul Lynskey from the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation will be presenting on both admission and financial aid trends - those who attended last year’s event found this to be incredibly worthwhile, practical, and helpful.
The event will take place in the auditorium. We hope you can join us!

COLLEGE ACCEPTANCES
Speaking of college, our seniors have already been accepted to 66 colleges and universities! As seniors receive their acceptance letters, we are asking them to bring copies of letters so we can update the wall. They should also include these updates to Naviance.

GRADE 8 RECONFIGURATION UPDATE
We are continuing to move forward with the reconfiguration. This past week, Ms. DeMarco and Mr. Rubin met with several teachers to discuss possible moves for next year, as we consider options for core academics and elective courses. As part of that process, we are updating our Program of Studies to include grade 8 course offerings, update elective courses open to grade 8, and determine which courses will be grouped solely as grade 8.
Additionally, we have been continuing with the process of analyzing our physical space to make sure that we have all needs met. In general, we feel confident in our processes and know that the transition will proceed smoothly.
Mark your calendars, tentatively, for February 5 and February 12, which will be our grade 7 and grade 8 introductory nights, respectively. We will share more details in the coming days and weeks. These nights typically start at 6:30 and end around 8:30. We are hoping to have incoming student course selections input before February vacation, and we will be sending out some more information under separate cover in the next couple of weeks.

BUDGET REQUESTS

To help accommodate the rising grade 8, we have been consistent with a couple of our requests: a new guidance counselor and a world language teacher. We also are hoping to include a new engineering teacher to help support programming for the addition of 120+ students, considering that no other specialist teachers in the allied arts will be following grade 8 to UHS.
In our budget requests, we have some other additions for supplies and materials, but the biggest ticket item for next year will be our reaccreditation. Grade 7 and 8 families, in addition to our upperclassmen, will be learning more about that in the coming months.

PROGRAMMING

One of the questions that has come up has obviously been the role of athletics and extracurricular activities. We will meet with the Class of 2023 (current grade 7) in the spring and fall, town-hall style, to get their feedback on what sort of events and activities they would like to see that are grade-level specific. However, for most of our activities, we plan on integrating the class, such as with yearbook, student council, and other clubs.
The athletic question has been on many people’s minds. While grade 8 will be part of the high school, we plan on integrating grade 8 into programs, some of which have already included that grade (i.e. soccer, tennis, track and field, golf). In some cases, this may allow us to expand into a third level, such as with basketball and baseball. In a sport like football, while the grade 8 students are at UHS, we are exploring options with the MIAA in terms of scheduling - specifically scheduling grades 6-8 into a middle school football schedule, with grades 9-12 participating in JV and varsity programs, but all programs housed through the high school. This would essentially mean no change to our current programming - with the understanding that we will not be able to sustain four teams (middle school, freshman, JV, varsity).

MIDYEAR EXAMS

Midyear exams are approaching. Seniors with a grade above 90 are exempt if the course is ending. All students are obliged to participate in midyear exams if the course is a full-year course.
On the last day of exams, the buses will depart UHS at 9:30, before the “makeup” period. Please note that these are half days, to give students opportunity to prepare for exams.
Some parents have, in the past, shared concerns that teachers are still teaching “new material” in the days leading up to exams. We specifically have told the faculty that midyear exams - and the days leading up to them - should not be an excuse for the entire instructional process to stop. If students require support for review, teachers may build in time to do so, but, absent those requests, courses may continue.
Parents may see additional requests from teachers regarding missing work or assignments that are needed in order to come to the end of semester and meet course expectations. If you see these messages, assume positive intent, check iPass, and communicate with the teachers and counselors as the first line of defense.

Finally, we hope to release some exciting news about partnerships that UHS is expanding with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the coming weeks, which will augment opportunities for college and career placement. These goals have been part of the district’s agenda long before my arrival here, so bringing these pieces together through a strategic partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, partners in higher education, and opportunities for authentic learning really is exciting. We hope to be able to share this information more publicly and with explicit details in the coming weeks.

Thank you, as always, for the support.

Sincerely,

Michael Rubin
Principal
Uxbridge High School

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Academic Awards Luncheon Rescheduled

Dear Parents, Families, and Students:

It came to our attention following the holiday break that a scheduling conflict exists for January 21 that will impact a number of our award recipients at the Academic Awards Luncheon. We do not deliberately try to schedule things that create conflicts with the extracurricular or athletic programs, and our scheduling of the Luncheon occurred before athletic schedules were finalized. That said, upon learning of this conflict, we have the opportunity to be flexible and rectify the circumstances in order to have equitable participation for all our honorees.

The snow date for the luncheon had been set for January 28, and so, to avoid conflicts with the athletic program, we are moving the Academic Awards Luncheon from January 21 to January 28, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. Should we need an additional snow date, we will look at the calendar and communicate that in the event that it is needed. We will, in advance, pray for good weather and thank everyone for their flexibility, as it is important for the students and families that all have an opportunity to attend without compromising any participation on our programs and teams, while still giving a couple of weeks for everyone to adjust accordingly.

All honorees' families were emailed this information on January 4.

As we like to say, this is why we put erasers on pencils. Thanks again for your cooperation and understanding.

Sincerely,

Michael Rubin, Principal

January 2018 Yearbook Newsletter


January 2018 Library Newsletter


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

UHS DESE Report Card Information

January 3, 2018
Dear Parent or Guardian:
We are pleased to enclose an overview of our school’s “report card.” Report cards answer important questions about a school's overall performance and contain specific information about student enrollment and teacher qualifications, student achievement, accountability, how a school is performing relative to other schools in the district and the state, and the progress made toward narrowing proficiency gaps for different groups of students.

In this report you will find the following important information about our school:

Student enrollment and teacher quality: This section of the report card provides information about the students and teachers in our school as compared to the district and the state. If your child attends a school that receives federal Title I funds, you also have the right to request the following information about the qualifications of your child’s classroom teachers:

  • ·       Whether your child’s teacher is licensed in the grade levels and subject areas they teach
  • ·       Whether your child’s teacher is teaching under an emergency license or waiver
  • ·       The college degree and major of your child’s teacher
  • ·       Whether your child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications
Student assessment on MCAS and other tests: This section of the report shows how our students are performing on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests as compared to the district and the state.

School and district accountability information: 
This section of the report contains three important pieces of information:

  • ·       Accountability and Assistance Levels: Schools and districts are placed into one of five accountability and assistance levels (1-5), with the highest performing in Level 1 and lowest performing in Level 5. Our school has been placed into Level 2 because we are not meeting our gap-narrowing goals.
  • ·       School Percentiles: A school percentile between 1 and 99 is reported for most schools. This number shows the overall performance of our school relative to other schools that serve the same or similar grades. Our school percentile is 35. This means that our school performed better than 35 percent of similar schools across the Commonwealth.
  • ·       Progress and Performance Index (PPI): The PPI is a number that indicates our school’s progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps, or, in other words, helping all students reach proficiency and be prepared for success after high school. Massachusetts has set a goal of reducing proficiency gaps by half between the years 2011 and 2017. For a group of students to be considered to be making sufficient progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps, its cumulative PPI must be 75 or higher.
To improve student achievement in our school we have:


  • ·       Focused our attention on expanding course curricula to full years in all content areas
  • ·       Begun working toward greater literacy proficiency in all content areas
  • ·       Implemented focused and differentiated instruction for several subgroups
  • ·       Developed protocols to analyze student achievement data and adapt instructional techniques
We encourage you to become involved in helping us improve our school. Some of the ways you can become involved are:

  • ·       Encouraging your child’s learning at home
  • ·       Attending parent-teacher meetings and other special meetings
  • ·       Serving as a volunteer in our school or district
  • ·       Encouraging other parents to become involved
For more information about our school’s report card or to request information about the qualifications of your child’s classroom teachers, please feel free to contact us at 508-278-8633.

Sincerely,


Michael Rubin, Uxbridge High School Principal

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Higher Ed and McCloskey Campus Reuse

December 20, 2017

Dear Parents and Residents:

We are writing to provide you with an update regarding the McCloskey School building and our connected efforts to expand Early College* coursework and underrepresented programs for our high school students in Uxbridge and throughout the region. Uxbridge High School has solidified an engineering pathway over the past two years to better address higher education and workforce needs - and our sights are now set on the biomedical and agricultural industries, in addition to expanding early college opportunities, which would benefit students and families alike.

With the closure of the McCloskey Middle School, an opportunity has presented itself to establish college programming at the McCloskey campus through a potential partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College for high school students, post-secondary students, and adults to advance career training. The Uxbridge Public Schools administration feels strongly that joint partnerships between higher education and PreK-12 public school systems will form the basis of the next wave of reform initiatives in Massachusetts, since the last major reform of 1993.

On Tuesday, the School Committee voted to endorse the administration’s exploration and pursuit of state and federal grant funding, with the goal of establishing technical and higher education programming in the local Uxbridge Public Schools. There is an understanding that this pursuit will likely be a collaborative effort among Blackstone Valley and Worcester County schools. Likewise, discussions and decisions about the future plans of the McCloskey campus will occur in the upcoming months, as it is understood that early college programming to address higher education and workforce needs will likely require the use of the campus. In so doing, Uxbridge may very well be poised not only to lead new partnerships but also potentially fill the regional void in terms of higher education opportunities in the Blackstone Valley. With the state encouraging districts to collaborate, and given the demands identified by both higher education and the local workforce, the opportunities could be many, which is why additional study and exploration has been supported at this time.

We will be sure to inform the community in advance of informational forums to discuss these opportunities in greater depth. In the meantime, please see the attached Early College and McCloskey School Reuse Summary and the Higher Education Center PowerPoint that was presented to the School Committee on December 19, 2017. We hope this information will provide you with background details that will help you to understand our strategic efforts and lay the groundwork for meaningful and engaging discussions moving forward.

Sincerely,

Kevin M. Carney                                                                    Michael Rubin
Superintendent of Schools                                                      UHS Principal




Early College programming has been defined by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as an effort to provide high school students with college-level coursework while simultaneously providing exposure to a variety of career opportunities.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fun Club/Best Buddies!

Thanks to everyone who participated in today's Best Buddies/Fun Club holiday gathering. A good time was had by all!