Latest Editions of Pathways Newsletters

Good Morning,

Attached to this post are the latest editions of the Pathways Newsletter.  These editions contain several photos from a variety of activities that have occurred over the last two weeks in the Reading Public Schools, including our winter concerts, the hour of code, and A World of Difference.

On behalf of the Reading Public Schools, we wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

Pathways Newsletter V1N16

Pathways Newsletter V1N15

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School Calendar Approved for 2015-16 School Year

At the December 15, 2014 School Committee Meeting, the Reading School Committee approved the 2015-16 School Year Calendar.  The first day of school for students will be Wednesday, September 2, 2015 and the last day of school with four snow days built in will be Thursday, June 23rd.  The school year will be adjusted accordingly depending upon how many snow days are used.

For the first time in several years, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Good Friday will all be school days.  Last year, the Reading School Committee approved a Religious Accommodations Policy, IMDA, which puts practices in place to provide accommodations for students who celebrate different religious holidays.  A copy of this policy and the school calendar are below.

SC – Reading Public Schools- Calendar 15-16

ReadingReligAccomSchCommPolicy IMDA

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Latest Issue of Pathways Newsletter

Good Morning,

Below is the latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter.  In this week’s edition, there are several photos and stories including the Festival of Trees, the Reading Rotary Reading Celebration, and the Killam Concert.

Pathways Newsletter V1N14

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Early Childhood Space Needs Working Group Update

This fall, the Reading School Committee appointed a Sub-Committee to develop a long-term solution to address the classroom space shortage we have at the preschool and elementary levels.  The Sub-Committee is being co-chaired by School Committee Vice Chair Chuck Robinson and School Committee member Jeanne Borawski. This fall, the School Committee accepted applications from community members interested in serving on the Sub-Committee.  They decided to appoint every person who applied, in an attempt to have the widest range of perspectives as we continue working to solve this important challenge in our schools.  The Early Childhood Education Space Needs Sub-Committee includes:

Community Members

Eric Burkhart

Nancy Docktor

George Katsoufis

Amy Koehler

Robert Mooney

Andrea Madden Morelli

Etain O’Dea

Ashley Quinn

Michele Sanphy

Rick Williams

Finance Committee Members

Mark Dockser

Marc Moll

School Committee Members

Jeanne Borawski

Chuck Robinson


John Halsey

Dan Ensminger

School Department Staff

Debbie Butts

Karen Feeney

Anne Manna

John Doherty

Craig Martin

Martha Sybert
On Thursday, December 4, the Sub-Committee held its second meeting, at which the Superintendent presented answers to these questions.  The document summarizing the questions and answers can be found here:  (Early Childhood Working Group Questions).   The Sub-Committee then agreed to the following process for completing its work:In October, Superintendent of Schools John Doherty presented the following presentation of our classroom space needs to the Sub-Committee (Early Childhood Space Needs Group Presentation).  The group them generated over 40 questions about the program growth, especially in special education and kindergarten, that has led to this classroom space shortage.

  1. Sub-Committee members will tour the RISE preschool and our 5 elementary schools to see the classroom space needs first hand.
  2.  Finalize a communications plan to maximize community awareness and engagement.
  3. Finalize a Space Needs grid, articulating exactly how many additional classrooms are needed at RISE preschool and each elementary school.
  4. Develop a list of potential solutions to the classroom shortage, building off of the extensive work that was done last Spring by the first Space Needs Working Group.  The Sub-Committee has agreed to look at all previous suggestions as well as develop new ones.
  5. Develop a criteria matrix with which to judge the proposed solutions.  Again, the group will build off of the excellent work done last spring by the first Working Group.
  6. Winnow down the proposed solutions based on the criteria matrix.
  7. Present the School Committee with 1  – 3 proposed solutions.

All Sub-Committee meetings are open to the public and held in the School Committee Conference Room in the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices, located near the RISE Preschool.  You are cordially invited to attend these meeting and be part of this important conversation about the future of our schools.  The next three meetings will be:

Thursday, February 5 at 7:00 PM

Thursday, February 26 at 7:00 PM

Thursday, March 12 at 7:00 PM

If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Space Needs Sub-Committee, or have input that you’d like to share, please feel free to contact the Superintendent’s Office at 781-944-5800 or Sub-Committee Co-Chairs Chuck Robinson ( and Jeanne Borawski (

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Latest Issues of Pathways Newsletter

Happy Thanksgiving!

Below are the latest two issues of the Pathways Newsletter.  These last two editions contain several photos of recent events including the Thanksgiving Football game, Boys and Girls Swim Fundraiser, the RMHS Interact Club trip to New York City, and the Parker Food Drive.  There are also several articles of interest including an article by RMHS Social Studies Teacher Kerry Gallagher on why student voice is essential.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Pathways Newsletter V1N12

Pathways Newsletter V1N13

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Reading Memorial High School Makes Advanced Placement Honor Roll

AP Honor Roll

The Reading Public Schools is pleased to announce that Reading Memorial High School is one of 547 schools and districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 5th Annual AP® District Honor Roll for increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. 2014 is a milestone year for the AP District Honor Roll, and more districts are achieving this objective than ever before. Reaching these goals indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for the opportunity of AP. Since 2012, Reading Memorial High School has increased the number of students participating in AP while improving the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John F. Doherty stated, “I would like to commend the staff of Reading Memorial High School for their hard work in providing access to quality Advanced Placement Courses for our students.  It is our goal over the next few years to continue this trend of increasing participation in these challenging courses for all students.”

Data from 2014 show that among African American, Hispanic, and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half of students are participating.  The first step to delivering the opportunity of AP to students is providing access by ensuring courses are available, that gatekeeping stops, and that the doors are equitably opened so these students can participate.  Reading Memorial High School is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

“The devoted teachers and administrators in this district are delivering an undeniable benefit to their students: opportunity. When coupled with a student’s hard work, such opportunities can have myriad outcomes, whether building confidence, learning to craft effective arguments, earning credit for college, or persisting to graduate from college on time.” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of AP and Instruction. “We applaud your conviction that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to simultaneously expand access and improve student performance.

In 2014, more than 3,800 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the United States offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.

Inclusion on the 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2012 to 2014, looking across 34 AP Exams, including world language and culture. The following criteria were used.

Districts must:

  • Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts;
  • Increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and
  • Improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2014 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2012, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

When these outcomes have been achieved among an AP student population in which 30 percent or more are underrepresented minority students (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native) and/or 30 percent or more are low-income students (students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch), a symbol has been affixed to the district name to highlight this work.

The complete 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll can be found here.

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Recap on Regional Dialogue on Opiate Use

The Following post is from Senator Lewis, State House, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Penny Funiole, Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition and Erica McNamara, Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse regarding the recent Regional Dialogue on Opioid Abuse that was held at Reading Memorial High School.

State Senator Jason Lewis, in partnership with the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse, would like to thank all those that participated in the regional forum in Reading to discuss opioid abuse in our communities.The forum generated a deeply meaningful discussion, with a focus on challenges faced at the local, regional, and state levels.  There was an incredible turnout featuring a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including some impressive student activists, law enforcement officers, local officials, parents, and educators.

We crafted next steps based on your input. We identified a number of key legislative priorities that Senator Lewis’s office is currently researching, focusing on improving access to and availability of case managers, and increasing communication between local and state level agencies.  We are also working at a regional level to address the issues of stigma, prevention, intervention, and enhanced access to quality treatment.
We are working with law enforcement partners to learn more about issues raised around criminal justice and court involvement with different aspect of drug dealing and use.  We look forward to sharing more details as we identify more info.
The links to the notes compiled at the dialogue are provided here and also graphically displayed in the images below:
Short version
Long version
Video Recap
Regional Dialogue on Opioid Abuse
Regional Dialogue on Opioid Abuse
What is a wordle?  “A tool for generating word clouds from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”
Wordle of Notes Summary from Regional Dialogue

Wordle of Detailed Notes from Regional Dialogue

For more info, contact
For those attendees who asked for the slides of Erica’s PP presentation

Ally Kurlikoff

Office of Senator Lewis

Penny Funiole

Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition

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Latest editions of Pathways Newsletter

Below are the links to the latest Pathways Newsletters for the last two weeks.  In the newsletter, there are several photos from recent Reading Public School events including Veteran’s Day ceremonies.

Pathways Newsletter V1N11

Pathways Newsletter V1N10

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Shorter Version of DESE Parent Survey Now Available

As you know, last week we sent out a self-assessment survey from the Massachusetts DESE as a first step in collecting input from all stakeholders of the school community.   To oversee an effective and comprehensive plan once the survey closes next week, Superintendent John Doherty is also designating Assistant Superintendent Craig Martin to assemble and lead a task force of parents, teachers, and administrators to coordinate the subsequent steps of this important process.

While the initial survey is quite extensive and some sections may seem more appropriately targeted to educators, we felt that it was important to give the opportunity for every stakeholder to review all elements of the state’s tool and to give feedback on any aspect of the school.  Based on input we have received from some parents, however, we have also asked the DESE if it is possible to provide us a much shorter version of the survey for parents who would like to limit their feedback to more targeted areas.   Please see the links below, as the DESE has now made that option available. [Please note that the numbers of the questions may not be sequential in the abbreviated version of the survey, as it consists of the first two introductory questions (about tutoring and homework), as well as some targeted questions from Section I (School Leadership), Section IX (Students’ Social, Emotional, Health Needs/Learning Environment) and Section X (Family-School Engagement)].

We realize that parents may not always feel comfortable answering all of the questions in the complete survey and that it may also feel frustrating to reply ‘unknown’ to a question.  If you choose to do so while completing the full, unabbreviated survey, however, please know that this is also perfectly acceptable.   (Thank you as well to the parents who have already completed the full survey and done just that).  As the DESE team has confirmed, even the “unknown” responses can often provide very important information about improvements needed in school communication.

Feel free to choose either version of the survey, but once begun, please note that all questions must be completed in order for the survey responses to be tallied.  The survey itself was designed for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by the New England Islands and Regional Laboratory, and it has been determined to be a valid and reliable instrument.  We have learned from the DESE team, for instance, that this survey has already been used in several other Level 3 districts and schools as a tool to measure the perceptions of parents, teachers, and administrators on the Conditions of School Effectiveness (or the research-based practices that schools most require to effectively meet the learning needs of all students).  We appreciate you taking the time to answer this important survey, and we value all parent feedback that we receive throughout this process.

Once the results are collected from this first survey, the school will then identify the areas that most need to be strengthened and develop a very targeted feedback tool to address specific school needs, including with open-ended questions.  In addition, schools may host forums where the survey data will be presented and additional feedback can be given.  Director of Student Services, Carolyn Wilson, will also be providing an opportunity for parents to give their feedback on special education services, as we are in the process of reviewing all of our special education services and programs.  Moving forward, the School Council will play a major role as well in this process, as they oversee the implementation of the School Improvement Plan.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s principal or the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices.  Most importantly, thank you for your time, for working together as a community to constantly reflect and improve on our practices, and for your ongoing support of our schools. Through this review process, we will collaboratively work with all stakeholders to gather feedback, identify what is working, and what areas need to be strengthened.   Although this is a significant challenge facing the Joshua Eaton School and our district, I want to unequivocally say that we will address this challenge successfully by tapping the collective efforts and talents of our entire district staff as well as our community.

The deadline for completing the survey is Monday, November 17th at 12:00 p.m. and can be accessed through the following links:

Abbreviated Parent Survey Link:

Full Survey Link:

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Reading Public Schools Condition for School Effectiveness Survey for Parents

This link leads to an anonymous parent survey that will be used to assess your child’s school using the Conditions of School Effectiveness, a research based tool provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Your feedback is important to us as we continually improve our schools for Reading students. There are 131 questions in this survey and we will use the results of this survey to identify the areas that we do well in and the areas that we need to strengthen. Here are some tips as you complete the survey.

1. The survey takes about 45 minutes to complete and you need to complete the survey in one sitting. Some parents have found it helpful to print a copy of the survey, answer the questions ahead of time, then complete the survey online. There is no requirement to complete it in this manner.

2. You need to place an answer on all statements on the survey.

3. When you are answering the survey, please use the perspective of  “How well is this being done in my child’s school?”

4. If you have more than one child attending the Reading Public Schools, please answer only one survey per school. If you have children in different schools, you have the option of completing more than one survey. Please do not complete a survey for a school that your child does not currently attend.

5. The choices on the survey that you can use are as follows:

U – Unknown: I have insufficient professional knowledge of this area to offer a meaningful response.

1 – Little Evidence: The school is demonstrating little to no progress in implementing this practice, or implementation is so infrequent that its impact is negligible.

2 – Emerging: This practice is emerging or in place to support the condition : element; however it is not yet fully developed or implemented with fidelity.

3 – Providing: This practice is established and is implemented consistently, with fidelity.

4 – Sustaining: This practice is in place with all other practices in the Condition : Element being implemented at a “Providing” or at-standard level, is aligned to and integrated with the other practices to the point of being self-sustaining, and is supported by district efforts.

6. If you do not have access to a computer with internet and you would like to take the survey at the school, please contact your child’s building principal.

The deadline to complete this survey is Monday, November 17th at 12:00 p.m. Once we receive the results of this survey, each school will identify the critical areas that need to be addressed. From the data, the School Advisory Council from each school will develop a shorter, more focused survey with specific school related questions. In addition, building principals will hold forums, present the data from the survey, and give parents the opportunity to provide feedback, based on the results of the survey.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this important survey. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your school’s building principal or the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices at 781-944-5800.

Link to Survey Below

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