Important Message from Dr. Brackett about Netflix's 13 Reasons Why
We wanted to call your attention to the fact that Netflix has recently released the series 13 Reasons Why, based on the book by the same name. The fictional story revolves around a 17-year-old girl who takes her own life and leaves behind a series of audio recordings for people who she says played a role in her decision to kill herself. Further, the show addresses other difficult topics, including rape, bullying, slut-shaming, and drunk driving. It is important to know that the shows in this series may elicit strong feelings.
Students are talking about it, a number have watched all or some of the series, and it is getting national attention from a number of school and mental health groups. As always, our role is to inform; your role is to decide if 13 Reasons Why is appropriate viewing for your children. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) strongly recommends that vulnerable students do not watch this series. Given the nature of these themes, we do not recommend that young children (including middle school aged) be allowed to watch this series alone.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), The JED Foundation, and Commonsense media have created guidance and talking points for educators, students, and families who choose to watch the show:
At Watertown High School, we have many programs already in place to help vulnerable student groups. In the 9th grade, all students are provided suicide prevention training with a licensed school social worker. An active student club is focused on raising awareness of teen suicide and recently raised enough funds to host a school wide assembly with a motivational speaker. The high school has several licensed mental health providers who are available to assist students and make appropriate referrals.
In addition, the Watertown Middle School’s Student Support Team and the Counselors and mental health professionals at the elementary schools are available to you and your children if you have any concerns or would like to talk more about this series.
If you would like more information about these school programs or services or how we might support you, please contact the guidance office at your child’s school.
Dr. John Brackett's May Newsletter
April vacation is in the rearview mirror, graduation is only weeks away, and MCAS 2.0 (formerly PARCC, formerly MCAS) testing for all students in grades 3-8 is occurring across the district. This year our 4thand 8thgrade students are taking the test on-line for the first time. On-line high stakes testing is a different experience. Students are asked to complete complex math problems and write thoughtful, well-structured responses to prompts on a Chromebook or laptop. The amount of effort that our tech department and school staff have committed to make the system work and to troubleshoot glitches that occur during testing has been nothing short of amazing. Actually, there is probably more stress about on-line testing with the adults than the students who are taking the test. Early reports are that our students are taking the testing seriously and managing the technology quite well.
State testing is just one aspect of the overall assessment program that we use to help inform our work in the district and with each student. We use test results to identify learning gaps between groups of students, possible curricular shortcomings, or areas where our instructional methods might not align with the standards being taught. We also use specific literacy and math assessments that give us information about a student’s progress in reading and computation; teachers use unit assessments to help assess if his/her class is mastering the concepts being taught; teachers also use daily informal check-ins on how well the objective for a given lesson was met.
The state-testing program plays another role. It is part of a larger school and school district accountability system. Each district’s math, ELA, and science assessment data for all students and for subgroups of students, students’ growth data, the percentage of students taking the tests, and graduation and dropout rates are factors in the calculation of a Progress and Performance Index (PPI) that is used to rate schools from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 5 being a school or district in receivership. All Watertown Schools and the district are Level 2.
Level 2 indicates we are within the top 80% in the state but have not met specific targets included in the methodology. If you are interested in more information about our ratings or other assessment or accountability data, please click on: WPS Accountability Profile
Why does this matter? Recently Commissioner Chester shared a letter that captured the state’s testing program and its value to the state, districts, schools and students. Commissioner's Letter
We are a continuously improving school district, and want to help all students achieve at high levels and prepare them to be successful in college and career. We want our graduates to be admitted to the college/university of their choice, or be successful in their entry to a fulfilling job/career. Does a high PPI result in that? No, but it provides meaningful benchmarks for us to gauge how we are doing and where we can improve. Let’s be honest, while we might argue that there are far better indicators of good schools that test data, when families consider moving to a community, they look at test results and performance ratings in comparing communities. Truth be told, we too look at the results to see how we rate against other similar schools; it’s not a scoreboard, but our pride is involved.
Don’t hesitate to ask teachers, principals, or district administrators for more information about test results in general, and specifically for your child.
Private/Parochial Choice: This is the time of year when some families consider if public school is still the best option for their child. Of course I’m biased toward our schools, but I understand there are other options that parents might feel better serve their family. I sent my kids to public schools; my brother sent his to parochial schools; they’ve all done well. In making the decision, parents spend hours researching and visiting schools, talking with admissions officers, looking at results, and weighing benefits and costs, advantages and disadvantages, opportunities gained and opportunities lost. They are being careful consumers. I respect a parent’s decision but I only ask that before making the decision to attend a school other than their home school here in Watertown, that WPS is given the same opportunity to “recruit” their student as the non-public school. Basing their decision, having never been in the middle school or high school, or upon another student’s experience or another parent’s perception, may not accurately inform the choice for their child.
If you are considering a non-Watertown school for next year, please contact Dr. Carter or Ms. Lundberg who will invite you and your child to visit, tour, plan, and experience what our schools can provide for family. I think if you kick the tires on the Watertown schools, you’ll find quality in the ride. (There are my Michigan roots coming out again.)
Mascot: The search process for a mascot is underway within the district. I call you attention to the website which provides information about why we are undertaking this initiative and the process to be employed. Mascot Process
Calendar revision: We have had to make a minor revision to the 2017-18 School Calendar. Because of a conflict we had to move elementary evening conferences to December 12 (from the 14th). No other changes have been made to the adopted calendar. Calendar
Watertown Public Schools FY18 School Committee Adopted Budget
Click here for the FY18 School Committee Adopted Budget.
The following links are supplemental to the creation of the FY18 budget.
What's Happening this year in our High School Fab Lab?
Appointment of Superintendent Dr. Deanne Galdston
The Watertown School Committee is pleased to announce the
appointment of Dr. Deanne Galdston as the new Superintendent of the
Watertown Public Schools, effective July 1, 2017. This appointment is subject to successful completion of contract negotiations.
its meeting on Monday, March 13, the School Committee voted 6-0 to
offer Dr. Galdston the position of superintendent. Dr. Galdston has
been a teacher and administrator in the Billerica Public Schools for 21
years. She started as a High School Spanish teacher and has served as
the K-12 Humanities Coordinator, High School Assistant Principal, and
for the last six years as the Assistant Superintendent. In addition to
these experiences, she brings enthusiasm and a sharp focus on student
learning to the Watertown Public Schools. The School Committee looks
forward to working with Dr. Galdston as she assumes an educational
leadership role in Watertown.
We thank everyone involved in the selection process.
Adopting a Mascot for Watertown High School
For many years, Watertown High School and its athletic teams
have been nicknamed The Raiders.This
nickname has become a connection to the traditions of the school, teams, and
community.In recent years, however, the
High School has not had an official mascot associated with this name.To address this, the Watertown School
Committee is seeking input from students and staff in the Watertown schools, as
well as, WHS alumni and members of the Watertown community to identify an
appropriate mascot that represents the values, attitudes, personality, and
character of Watertown High School.The
first step in this process is creating a Screening Committee that will solicit,
review, and recommend nominations for a mascot.The 12-15 person Screening Committee will be composed of the High School
Principal, High School students and staff, High School alumni and parents, and
community members.Selected by a
subcommittee of the School Committee, this group will have public meetings in
May and early June to consider mascot nominations and recommend 2-4 of these to
the School Committee for a final decision in late June.A professional graphic artist will assist
with creating the final design.
If you would like to be
considered for the Screening Committee, please send an e-mail or letter
explaining how you would contribute to the work of the Committee and also your
position in the schools or community, such as parent, alumni, etc.Nominations are due by 4:00 PM on April 26
and should be sent to Christie Fisher at email@example.com or School Administration,
30 Common Street, Watertown, MA 02472.Questions can be addressed to John Portz, Chair of the School Committee,
Hosmer International Night Book Created by our Students
Caring kindergarteners, first graders, and third grade students at Hosmer Elementary School created the International Book linked below.
Due to snow days this year, the current 180th day of school is Friday, June 23rd.
Statement on Respecting Diversity in the Watertown Public Schools
The following statement was prepared by Dr. John Brackett, Interim
Superintendent, and Mr. John Portz, School Committee Chairman, who read
it aloud at the School Committee meeting on February 15, 2017.
Watertown, we celebrate our diversity. As a school system, we are
committed to protecting the right of all students and educators to
participate in our learning community. Recent events at the national
level regarding travel restrictions and related actions prompt us to
reiterate and reassure that Watertown Public Schools is an open,
welcoming, and inclusive place to learn and work. Debates in national
policy continue, but we are committed to providing a safe, learning
environment for all students. The Watertown Public Schools is here to
serve, not to judge or exclude. We treat all students with respect,
have high expectations for all, want parents to be our partners, and
expect students, educators, and parents to respect the unique qualities
that characterize each of us. Together, we build and support a diverse
and respectful community. "
Approved 2017-2018 School Calendar
Please click here for the approved 2017-2018 school calendar.
Superintendent's Coffee's Schedule
Come Join Dr. John Brackett for coffee and a talk. Click below for the scheduled dates. These are held on the first floor of the Phillips building at 30 Common Street.
For all new students entering Watertown Public Schools, the new registration packet is posted as well as instructions for registering. Please click here for more information on Student Registration.
Boston College & Watertown Public Schools to Collaborate on Increasing Family Engagement
Below you will find a report that presents findings from a yearlong assessment of the various ways in which the Watertown Public Schools engage families from diverse backgrounds. As part of a collaborative partnership between the district and Boston College, the report aims to document family engagement in the district, highlight innovative practices and identify ‘engagement gaps’ to address in strengthening relationships within the community.