June 17, 2009
Parents Criticize Mountain View Middle School
Deficiencies cited:
Lack of challenging programs, A grades too easily achieved

- A group of parents raised several issues about what they saw as diminished performance at Mountain View Middle School during a Goffstown School Board meeting last night.

Half a dozen parents voiced concern about the middle school, ranging the lack of challenging programs for their children to A grades that are too easy to earn to the lack of volunteer options for parents, during the public comments portion of the meeting.

“I feel like they’re giving the As out to make them look good. I feel like [students] are not working as hard for their As,” Donna Fifield, a parent, said.

Other parents said volunteer opportunities at the school had disappeared.

“Volunteers are being pushed out of the school rather than being approached to come into the school,” Angela Martinez said.

Much of the talk focused on the school’s algebra program. Fifield said she was concerned that her daughter had an average higher than 100 thanks to extra credit, but still could not get into algebra. She said the school had changed since an older daughter had graduated. 

“I’m not a teacher, I’m not a staff member. I’m just telling you from the parent’s point of view. I know my kids. [The school] is not the same,” she said.

Angie Battey said that her daughter missed the algebra program by one point last year, but after repeated conversations with the school, she was able to enter for a trial period, during which she was at the top of her class.

“It’s unfortunate that parents have to continue to push and fight the administration at Mountain View Middle School to help our kids be better students and better prepared for what lies ahead of them at the high school,” Battey said.

Fifield said her daughter was not concerned with possible embarrassment if she were to be admitted into the algebra program for a trial period and perform poorly.

“My daughter said, ‘I don’t care, I’m bored.’ My daughter is bored. I’m trying to tell you, she’s not getting challenged,” Fifield said.

Philip Pancoast, the vice chair of the board, said that programs like one at Goffstown High School allowing students who are interested to try honors classes for a trial number of days could help the situation at Middle View.

“The concerns that you’re voicing today are concerns that this board has had in the past and has been working diligently to correct. They aren’t things that happen overnight, but I would say that we have made progress, and significant progress, which doesn’t mean there isn’t still progress to be made,” he said.

Other parents said communication was the problem

"My last [child] is graduating and I’m happy. I am so happy to be out of this school. I apologize, but the problem is that there’s a lack of communication," Helen Laprise said.

Pat Rousselle, who teaches sixth grade math, said communication may not have been adequate, but that not all students are ready for algebra.

“We’re trying to be more rigorous. However, you have to understand that if you’re the teacher with 26 or 28 kids in the room and you have either one aide or no aide, and you have all these ability levels, the teacher has to teach and try and reach all of them in a variety of ways,” she said.

A gifted and talented program might help solve the problem, but is missing due to a lack of money and staff, she said.

“You can’t have a gifted and talented program if you don’t have the staff. You can’t have the staff if you don’t have the money. You can’t do it if you don’t have the schedule. So there’s a lot that plays into this, but we’re really seriously working on trying to make things better,” she said.



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