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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

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Ed Lambert chats about the status, challenges of our educational system

JFY Welcomes Ed Lambert to chat about the status, challenges of our educational system

Narrated by Greg Cunningham

JUNE 2022 PODCAST – One might assume that Ed Lambert, the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, was a career-long denizen of the business world. But that assumption would be far from the truth. In fact, Ed’s career has traced a long trajectory of public service and education, giving him deep insight into the entire educational system and its political foundations, and broad experience of what needs to be done to ensure that all students acquire the necessary skills to succeed in life. This month’s podcast features a recent conversation between Ed and JFY’s Executive Director Gary Kaplan as they discuss Ed’s wide-ranging experiences and how they have shaped his unique perspective on the status and challenges of our educational system.

Year of Re-Adjustment- look back on a challenging school year

JFY’s Learning Specialists look back on a challenging school year

Cathie Maglio

The year started off with the bright promise of being back in the classroom. In September, I went to one of my schools to administer the Accuplacer test to a couple of classes. I stayed mostly in the area of the classrooms except for a brief venture down the corridor to speak with a few teachers I knew. It felt good to be back in the classroom. Sadly, that was my only visit into a classroom this year.

Broaden Your Instructional Horizons

JFY Resources for the classroom and individual study

by Joan Reissman and Greg Cunningham

JFYNetWorks provides a rich collection of resources for teachers, students, and parents. We focus on math and ELA, but we also support science and social studies. This collection includes podcasts, videos, blogs, and an annotated guide in science, as well as articles that could serve as a springboard for multi-disciplinary research projects. We hope this guide will help you navigate the many strategies, activities, and free resources on our website to inspire teaching and help students improve skills.

JFY Goes to Summer School

Reaching Goals, Closing Gaps

Free academic support for schools

The disruptions of the past two years have left many students struggling to keep up with academic goals. MCAS data from the two most recent years, 2019 and 2021, show declines in both reading and math in grades 3 through 8, with especially sharp double-digit drops in math in every grade. (There was no MCAS in the Covid shutdown year 2020.) Achievement gaps between groups have widened. Schools are struggling to develop strategies to recover unfinished learning and close gaps. Summer school is the next opportunity.

Memorial Day. A celebration of peace; A Legacy of War

by Gary Kaplan

A celebration of peace; A Legacy of War

Memorial Day is a legacy of the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, its precise origins are somewhat cloudy. The generally accepted inaugural celebration took place casually on June 3, 1861, when a group of ladies decorated the graves of confederate soldiers at a cemetery in Warrenton, Virginia. Local commemorative ceremonies were conducted throughout the South, as in the North. Such devotional acts had undoubtedly been practiced as far back as martial memory reaches.

The move toward a national holiday originated on March 3, 1868, with “General Order No.11, A Memorial Day Order,” issued by General John A. Logan, a Union veteran from Illinois. Logan was then the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union Army veterans’ organization. The (condensed) text of the Order is heavily weighted toward the Union side:

Hubie Jones Visits with JFYNetWorks

A history maker in Boston’s civic and social landscape

Narrated by Greg Cunningham

MAY 2022 PODCAST – It’s hard to believe one man has had such an influence on Boston’s civic and social landscape. A leader of reform in Boston politics and civic leadership since his arrival from New York in 1955, Hubie Jones has been involved in the creation of more than 30 community organizations, spearheaded the laws that guarantee educational rights for English language learners and special education students, led a major study of the Boston Public Schools, organized a citywide strike of Black workers, and founded the Boston Children’s Chorus—to cull only a few of his achievements.

MCAS Science, Biology is not so different after all

by Joan Reissman

Biology is not so different after all

In three weeks, Massachusetts students will be taking the new Next Generation MCAS 2.0 science tests for the first time. The last administration of the old Legacy MCAS Biology test was in February. That was the last test based on the old standards of 2006 and 2016. From now on, Biology and Introductory Physics will be Next-Generation 2.0 tests and will only be given online (unless the school makes a special request for a paper-based test as an accommodation).

There are four different MCAS science tests: Biology, Introductory Physics, Chemistry, and Technology/Engineering. Most students choose Biology (76% in 2019 and 75% in 2021) with Physics a distant second (21% in 2019 and 24% in 2021). Beginning in 2024, the Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests will be eliminated because of low participation rates (3% in 2019, less than 1% in 2021). Only Biology and Introductory Physics will be offered to the class of 2026 and beyond. The last chance to take all four tests will be in June 2023. That will be the last administration of Chemistry and Technology/Engineering. Both tests will be paper-based with 2006 standards.

Fear of the Math MCAS, The Cruelest Month for 10th Graders

by Cathie Maglio

The Cruelest Month… But Fear Not

April isn’t the cruelest month in Massachusetts—it’s May. Every May, fear strikes deep into the hearts of 10th graders as the math MCAS looms on the calendar. The test measures skills in four areas: Algebra and Functions, Geometry, Number and Quantity, and Probability and Statistics. It is widely believed by students that the creators of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System chose these domains deliberately to intimidate and frustrate them.

Meeting the challenges of Early College

by Eileen Wedegartner

Enhanced academic and guidance support develops self-confidence

“Miss, why do you do this?” Alyssa asked. “Why do you help? What brought you here? Like how did you decide to work with kids at all?”

I looked at her contemplatively and said, “Because I believe in this. I think working with students taking college courses in high school is one of the best ways to level the playing field and make sure they are ready for jobs when they graduate.”