Thursday, February 4, 2016

Inviting Recess/Lunch parent volunteers

Want an opportunity to support and volunteer at Barrows? We are looking to invite some of our fabulous Barrows parents and guardians to join us to volunteer and help support our students during recess/lunch. Ideally, we would love to have a consistent set of parent volunteers to join our staff during this important time of our school day. The volunteer spots will include 3 volunteer spaces per day for 2 hours per day. Recess and lunch are valuable parts of our students’ day, providing a time for our students to get fresh air, enjoy a movement break, and engage in social exchanges with their friends and peers. Any parents that are interested in volunteering for this time of day will be provided with a training opportunity prior to the start of the volunteer session and will need to have a CORI check and a fingerprinting check.
So, who’s in for recess fun?
Sign up here:…/10c0e45aba72ea6f85-recesslunch

Click here for additional reading from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Policy Statement:  The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Practice Safety Drill today

Dear Barrows Families;

I am writing to inform you that we participated in a safety drill this morning.  Students and staff did an excellent job responding and staying calm.  The Reading Police Department complimented the participation of students and staff again and are pleased with the high level of safety in our building.  I am proud of our Shining Star students today!

For more information please see the safety resources on our website here:

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. 
Thank you,
Heather Leonard

Heather Leonard, Principal
Barrows Elementary School
16 Edgemont Ave, Reading

Twitter: @BarrowsSchool

Monday, January 11, 2016

Important Budget Information

Superintendent Doherty is providing multiple ways to share information about the FY17 budget to the Reading Community.  A summary of key information is included in his blog post here:

Additional meetings and information below:

Upcoming Meetings
We will continue to inform Staff and Community about the FY17 Budget Process in this newsletter and the Pathways Blog.  The upcoming budget meetings are as follows:

Reading School Committee Budget Meetings (All Meetings Begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices)
·         Monday, January 11th-Overview of FY17 Budget, Administration and Regular Day Cost Centers
·         Thursday, January 14th-Special Education, District Wide Services
·         Thursday, January 21st-Public Hearing, Town and School Facilities
·         Monday, January 25-Final School Committee Vote

In addition to the meetings above, the Superintendent of Schools will be holding two budget presentations for parents on Tuesday, January 12th (6:30 p.m., Coolidge) and Wednesday, January 13th (6:30 p.m., Parker).  Both presentations will be the same.  Child care will be provided.

There will also be a Financial Forum of the School Committee, Board of Selectmen, and Finance Committee on Wednesday, January 20th at 7:30 p.m. at the Reading Senior Center.  The topic will be the FY17 budget and future budget discussions.  This is a public meeting and all are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Principal Challenge Problems

Vacation is a great time to rest and rejuvenate.  I also find that I like to do a lot of puzzles and thinking games to stretch those brain muscles! Special, just for you - early editions of the next two principal challenge problems are available below... give them a shot and have fun!

Principal Challenge Problem #4 & #5:

While there you can also view some awesome Barrows student answers!  Answers to problem #3 will be coming soon!

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Thursday, December 17, 2015

All School Writing Prompt

All-school Writing Prompt

Have you ever read “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka? It is the story of the 3 little pigs told from the point of view of the big bad wolf. Point of view means the perspective of the person (narrator) who is telling the story. There are other stories told from surprising points of view including “The Day the Crayons Quit” told from the crayon’s point of view, and “The Giving Tree” told from the tree’s point of view.

Think about your favorite childhood story or fairy tale. Retell the story from a DIFFERENT character’s point of view. Think about telling Cinderella from the Stepsister’s point of view, Jack and the Beanstalk told by the giant, Goldilocks told by one of the three bears… the possibilities are endless! Try this challenge over winter vacation and turn in your story to the office when we get back. Stories will be collected until January 15th, then we will display them for everybody to see!

Happy writing!

School Update

Dear Barrows Families,
I can’t believe that we're right up on our winter break!  The first part of this school year has just flown by! I am so proud of the work happening within these four walls, I hope you are able to check us out on Twitter @BarrowsSchool to see some great photos of our learners hard at work!

I am so proud of the generosity of our school community—The current collections of items for the Student Council Food Drive, monetary donations for the Mission of Deeds Kindergarten fundraising effort, and the Coats for Kids donations. Recent generous donations from our school community include the collection of slippers for Boston Children’s Hospital, hosted by 1st grader Lani McGrady, Donations towards our REF tree, donation of candy to Operation Gratitude, and more. A strength of our school community is giving outside of ourselves to others—and I celebrate everybody’s participation in these efforts! There is still time to give your change to the Mission of Deeds collection—Kindergarten will be accepting donations up through December 23rd.

We will have our all-school winter assembly next Wednesday (12/23) - it is also an all-school pajama day, so we invite your children to come in their cozy pajamas to enjoy our all-school sing along hosted by our Kindergarten class.

I have had some parents ask how to continue to support learning over the winter break. I have a few suggestions for you;

  •  Read together! Read aloud, read quietly near each other, read 2 copies of the book and discuss your thoughts, read a story then watch the movie and compare/contrast… READ!
  •  Use your child’s access to (a school-based program for which they have a log-in and password) to practice math, reading, fluency, writing, and more!
  •  Play games together—including games like Battleship (Coordinate grids/visual spatial skills); Card game “War” (number value); Memory (working memory/matching skills); Taboo (describing words)
  •  Check out BedTime math—a FUN challenge a day for families to try;
  •  Try out our all-school writing prompt over vacation! We will be collecting and displaying student responses when we get back in the new year– just turn them in to the office.

In closing I thought it would be worthwhile to share something I wrote last year that is still very applicable now; “This time of year can be busy, exciting, and overwhelming for both adults and children. Consider having some down time with your learner; read a good book together, take a walk, play a board game, etc. In the hustle and bustle of the winter/holiday season we tend to see students with heightened sensitivity, exhaustion, grumpy moods, and tears. When you see your child showing shifts in behavior from their typical self help them to identify how they are feeling (sad, tired, angry, etc.) and work with them to identify how they can help themselves feel better (take a break, dance, go to bed early, play a silly game, etc.)" Enjoy a wonderful holiday break with your families. See you in the new year!

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Coffee & Conversation

State Release of PARCC Assessment Data

State Release of PARCC Assessment Data
An Update from the Assistant Superintendent for Learning & Teaching, November 2015
If you are having difficulty viewing this, we have attached the information as a pdf.  You can also access it at our Edline Site or the Reading Public Schools Blog.  
PARCC results released
As you may know, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released statewide PARCC data a couple of weeks ago.  Today, the DESE has released individual school and district results for English Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3-8, as well as the Student Growth Percentile (SGP) and Composite Performance Index (CPI) data.  (MCAS scores for all levels of Science, as well as ELA and Mathematics for high school were released previously.)  The DESE has reported that student achievement “may appear lower in some grades on PARCC than on MCAS, because PARCC is designed to be a more rigorous test.”  However, as our staff in all grades have been working to align both curriculum and instructional strategies to the higher expectations of the state’s revised standards, we have been eager to receive this data to support and inform that continuing effort.
Achievement Levels, Student Growth, Group Progress
Unlike MCAS, there is no PARCC achievement level called “proficient,” but Level 4 represents the point at which students have “met expectations.” Level 5 indicates that students have “exceeded expectations.”  PARCC is scored on five achievement levels:
  • Level 1: Did not yet meet expectations
  • Level 2: Partially met expectations
  • Level 3: Approached expectations
  • Level 4: Met Expectations
  • Level 5: Exceeded Expectations
The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) measures how much a student’s performance has improved from one year to the next relative to his or her academic peers (other students statewide with similar scores in prior years).  The Composite Performance Index (CPI) measures the extent to which groups (districts, schools, and subgroups) are progressing toward full proficiency. When examining the data for student groups, the transitional CPI can be used for comparing results across years, and the median SGP can be used for measuring growth from one year to the next.  The DESE defines moderate growth to be between the 40-60 percentile, with low growth as below the 40th percentile and high growth as above the 60th percentile.  (See the attached tables for further explanation of both SGP and CPI.) 
Some initial findings
  • The percentage of Reading students in grades 3-8 who met or exceeded expectations is 12 points higher than the state average for English Language Arts, and 13 points higher for Mathematics.
  • All 20 of the median Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) in both ELA and Math for the five elementary schools are in the moderate or high growth range (with 11 of those in the high growth range). 
  • Twenty (20) of the 30 Composite Performance Indexes (CPI) in ELA and Math for the five elementary schools represent an improvement over the previous year.  (As we continue to monitor and address the accountability status for the Joshua Eaton Elementary School, we are pleased that two of those are rather significant increases in Math at both the 4th and 5th grade levels.)
  • The CPI for the 8th grade Algebra I test is 100, meaning that all students in 8th grade Algebra I either met or exceeded expectations (which was 20% higher than the state average).
  • The district’s K-3 curriculum progress will be reviewed, as we examine a few low indicators in the 3rd grade results.
  • While we are generally pleased with the aggregate CPIs for “all students,” we must continue to disaggregate the data to specifically address the high needs subgroup—especially students with disabilities.
In upcoming weeks, the district, school, and student level results will be used to identify our current strengths and weaknesses, review curriculum and instructional alignment, and identify appropriate interventions for students where applicable. We will also utilize recently released assessment items—including test questions, scoring rubrics, and examples of scored student responses—to inform our practice.  (See the below link to access the PARCC released assessment information.)  Accountability and assistance levels for schools are “held harmless” for this first year of a new assessment (meaning that 2014 levels may stay the same or improve, but cannot decline).  The DESE has announced, however, that it will still be releasing accountability reports for all districts in early December, and we look forward to reviewing that information. The DESE also reports that individual student reports for PARCC will be shipped to the districts by the end of the month, and so parents/guardians can expect to receive those in the beginning of December as well. 
An overview presentation of this district assessment data will be given for the School Committee on November 23rd, and each school will also be doing its own school-level presentation during December.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact your school Principal or the district administration offices. 
See the attached summary tables for a complete overview of the district PARCC results.
Or click on the below link to access this information Edline:
PARCC Released Items can be accessed at this link:
Further information regarding the PARCC results can be accessed at this DESE link:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Extra Candy? Join Barrows School in donating it to a good cause!

Have a lot of extra candy in your house right now? Talk with your child about the benefits of 'giving back' to others. Barrows school will be hosting a collection point for Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude sends donated Halloween candy to our troops serving overseas. This is a great way for our children to willingly give to those who can't be here to enjoy it and who are working hard to keep us all safe. If your family would like to contribute, please have a PARENT/ADULT drop the candy off at the office drop-off point between now and Monday, November 9th. We will take care of the postage costs. (please do not send candy in with your child's backpack, and drop it off at the office during pick-up or drop-off times if needed!)
Read more here:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

West St. Road Construction

The following is an update on the West Street Project construction:

·         Officers working details – please expect extended days.

·         The current construction area is on West Street between Howard Street and the Woburn town line.

·         There are only two basins left to install. Probably 11/02 Monday and 11/03 Tuesday.

·         Newport is working on this Saturday, 10/31/15. They intend to clean up the site and make the area safe for Halloween.

·         Next week on 11/04 Wednesday, 11/05 Thursday, and 11/06 Friday,  they will be reclaiming the roadway. This will require the Woburn Street to South Street detour. Expect late work days.
·         Soil injection is expected on 11/09 and 11/10 and will also require a late work days. Paving is expected on 11/12 and 11/13 and will require late work days.

·         Once the paving is complete, expect very limited use of any detour route. Newport expects that West Street will remain open and traffic will be alternated around any construction. They will be installing retention walls, curbing, and signal lights.

·         Newport expects to work though out the entire Winter.