Principal’s Letter: January 2014

January 7, 2014

New Year Greetings to Zervas Families!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your families.  It is always good to see the students return from vacation refreshed and full of stories from their time away.  As we enter a new year, I wanted to remind you of some upcoming events and important dates:

Principal Coffee
On Monday, January 13, there will be a Principal Coffee in the Library at 8:30-9:15 a.m.  Please join me for coffee and conversation.

Dr. Fleishman Visits Zervas
On Friday, January 17 at 8:30 a.m. there will be a Parent Meeting with Dr. David Fleishman, Superintendent of Newton Public Schools, in the Library.  This is a chance to talk with our Superintendent in an informal setting.  Coffee and refreshments will be served.  We hope to see you there!

Elementary Progress Report
Progress Reports will be available on February 3rd.  Similar to last year, these will be available to parents electronically.  Instructions for how to access these on line, as well as how to request a paper copy, will be coming home soon.

The elementary progress report is part of the Newton elementary schools’ process for reporting student progress and performance.  The process includes two conferences and two progress reports.  Conferences with your child’s teacher are held in October or November and in March or April. The two progress reports are delivered in January and in June.

The first progress report describes your child’s progress toward learning standards and expectations in each subject area, in personal and social growth, and in effort.

The progress report is built upon the Newton Public Schools Benchmarks, which are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. However, progress report items are not exactly the same as benchmarks or learning standards. Because there are so many standards in each subject, only the most essential skills and concepts are reflected on the progress report.  These are clustered into strands or domains that reflect the way each subject area is organized. Therefore, a single report card item may include several benchmarks or learning standards. It is important to remember that regardless of the time of year, your child’s progress is being measured according to learning expectations, not in comparison to other children in the class or grade.

Performance Indicators
There are two scales for indicating performance on the progress report.  The first, a 4-point scale, is used to indicate academic performance; the second, a 3-point scale, is used for personal and social growth as well as effort.

Performance Level:
Your child’s performance level will be indicated with 4, 3, 2, 1 as described below.


Student Performance Description


Consistently exceeds standard.


Meeting expectations for standard at this time of year.


Making progress toward standard, but not meeting expectations for this time of year.


Making limited or inconsistent progress toward standard.

Personal and Social Growth/Effort:
This three-point scale (3, 2, 1) is used to indicate the level of your child’s progress toward personal and social growth standards on the Progress Report.  It is also used to describe your child’s effort in academic areas.









We hope you take the time to review your child’s progress report and celebrate all that your child has accomplished this far in the school year.

MCAS Schedule
Each spring we administer the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests to students in grades 3 through 5 in the area of English Language Arts and Mathematics and, in addition, to students in grade 5 in the area of Science & Technology/Engineering.  Please mark your calendars with the following dates for this year’s test administration.  It is critical that students are in school when testing is scheduled for their grade level.

English Language Arts
Grade 3: March 24 & 25 (Reading)

Grade 4: March 18 (Long Composition), March 19 & 20 (Reading)

Grade 5: March 26 & 27 (Reading)

Mathematics and Science & Technology/Engineering

Grade 3: May 14 & 15

Grade 4: May 8 & 9

Grade 5: May 5 & May 6 (Math), May 12 & 13 (Science)

Upcoming Early Release
Please note that Wednesday, February 6 will be an early release.  All students will be dismissed at 12:30 pm.  This afternoon is dedicated for teachers to work together on the implementation of the new writing curriculum.  Meeting as a staff with our Literacy Specialist, grade level teachers will collaborate to review recent assessments and examine upcoming lessons to establish best practices.

Gift from Exxon Mobil
Through participation in the Educational Alliance Program, we are pleased to have been awarded a $500 gift from the Exxon Mobil Corporation.  This gift will go to enhance the efforts of the PTO in supporting our students through providing professional development resources and opportunities for our teachers.

Community Service Project – Teddy Bears for Tots
Please consider donating NEW, medium-sized, teddy bears to Teddy Bears for Tots.  Recognizing that one in four children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before their fourth birthday, as reported by the National Survey of Children’s Health, Girl Scout Kayla Torres, daughter of Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Torres, decided to create a social action project that would provide comfort and support to children in crisis.   With your support and generosity, Teddy Bears for Tots can make a difference in the lives of countless children.

Teddy bears will be donated to the Newton Police Department to be distributed to children in need.  As first responders, police officers are often the first faces that traumatized children see and therefore teddy bears provide first responders with a tool that can offer emotional comfort and physical healing on scene.

Bring your NEW, medium-sized, teddy bears to the collection boxes located in the Zervas Elementary School Kindergarten-First Grade hallway from January 6 – January 31. Due to potential allergies and health concerns, the teddy bears must be new.  Teddy bears can be any color but they should be medium-sized, approximately 15″ tall, with tags attached. Thank you for your support!

 Lastly, I look forward to seeing 5th grade families at the Winter Concert on January 9at 7:30.

All my best,

Diana Beck


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