CHS Principal Clark: Moving Forward

By Jayna Smith

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, initiated by President Bush, requires all public schools receiving federal funding to administer a state-wide standardized test each year.  Schools are required to give annual standardized assessments in the core subjects of reading, writing, math, and science and demonstrate regular improvements in the results of these assessments.  

Past standardized scores and recent Maine statutes for proficiency-based reporting prompted questions for Calais Middle/High School Principal Matt Clark.  

Would you say that past standardized test scores at CHS, along with the recent Maine statutes for proficiency-based reporting, prompted any changes to be made at the high school? 

We are always looking at ways to improve instruction and increase positive learning outcomes for students.  The school report card provides a snapshot of some different areas and the proficiency base learning system will require some change as we begin to implement the system.  Both these and many other variables are considered as we move forward.

 In your opinion, how has the growing emphasis on standards and performance assessment affected current teaching practices? 

I think the emphasis has made us all take a look at what we are doing in the classroom and seeing that some changes are on the horizon. We are all going to be learning.  That is powerful. Many are already using proficiency-based methods in their classrooms and assessments.  It is important to identify those methods and see how they fit in as we move forward.

 What specific areas do you feel need the most improvement? 

As we move forward, it is important that we are properly trained in the proficiency-based learning in all aspects.  It needs to be transparent for not only the staff, but the students, parents, and community as well. We can better assure positive learning outcomes when this communication is in place.  We also need more technology and technology integration training to keep up with the times.  Technology changes everyday.

 What is the plan for improvement of grades at CHS? 

We are beginning to implement some proficiency-based learning practices into the middle school and in some of our high school practices.  We have restructured our high school math program to better serve the needs of our students. Then NECAP and the SAT also have been changed starting this school year.  We just were informed of the new tests so we will be examining the information on those as they relate to what we are doing in the classroom. Attendance is another area that can always be improved.  Systems have been put in place to improve that process.  

 What professional development is planned to make these changes happen? 

The Superintendent along with the Curriculum Committee is working on a schedule for professional development in relation to the Proficiency-Based Education.  There are also other trainings specific to the needs of individuals or groups of staff that will take place. 

 What input have your teachers had in the plans for improvement? 

We like to have input from all stakeholders. The teachers have been very generous and flexible with all the changes we have had to make including people volunteering to teach new subjects or grades so we can save money. They have been great about working to the best of their ability with whatever we present to them.  The proficiency-based learning model was a mandate from the State. 

 What support is in place to those students who are struggling to meet the standards? 

We will continue with our Response to Intervention Program and Student Assistance.  We will continue to do whatever we can to serve the needs of all students as this process moves forward.

 Does CHS offer an accelerated curriculum for advanced students? 

CHS has Honors Classes and Advanced Placement Courses.  We are also in a partnership with WCCC and offer dual enrollment courses where students can earn college credit.

There are 212 students currently enrolled at Calais High School and 75 students in Calais Middle School (grades 7 and 8).  Students returned for the 2014-2015 school year the first week of September.