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September 30, 2013

Methuen schools move forward with changes

METHUEN — This is something of a transition year for Methuen schools.

Along with districts across the commonwealth, schools here are adjusting curriculum to new national standards and implementing new teacher evaluations required by new state rules. On top of those changes, the high school here is in the middle of a near-total rebuild and changes in classrooms technology are poised to ramp up.

“The district has been preparing for some of these changes for several years and teachers and staff are ready to move forward implementing some of these changes,” said Bryan Sweet, administrative manager of research at Massachusetts General Hospital and a candidate for School Committee.

Superintendent Judith Scannell said her administration has been working on the changes since 2010. “We knew what was ahead as far as the high school renovation, common core, technology, PARCC testing, the teacher evaluation tool,” she said. “The Leadership team as well as our teaching staff are committed to providing the best education possible for our students.”

Administrators have been working on a new curriculum for more than a year. Richard Beshara, former principal of Marsh Grammar School and now a candidate for School Committee, said he worked on the kindergarten portion last spring. The changes are in line with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which was designed by groups of state education and political leaders around the country and outlines what students should know and be able to do in each grade. Massachusetts adopted the standards in 2010 in exchange for extra federal education funding.

The new standards will go into effect next year. Methuen is working with the state Department of Education in piloting a new test called PARCC administered online and built around the standards that, if it proves as rigorous as the current MCAS exam, could become the new standard test in the near future.

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