CMS Guidance Department Overview

The middle school age student goes through more changes physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially than he/she has experienced since age two. These years are a time when young adolescents are dealing with feelings of autonomy versus dependency, coping with a new social and educational environment and higher academic expectations. It is a period of mastery, conformity, and testing; a time of uncertainty toward self and others, frequently hidden behind a mask of bravado and experimental behavior. Many are also dealing with changes in their family structure and familial relationships. It is miraculous that some are able to take such giant leaps educationally at the same time. However, there are few children who experience no disruption in their educational involvement and/or achievement, social adaptability, or emotional adjustment.

The primary goal of the Concord Middle School Guidance Department is to be of assistance to students as events occur which disrupt their educational process. In order to do this, it is first necessary to have a relationship with the student whenever possible. It is also important to have open access to and dialogue with whatever adults impact on his/her life: family, school staff and administration, and community resources. It is, therefore, not surprising that counselors spend approximately forty percent of their time directly with students and forty percent of their time with adults who have direct contact with students.

As disruptions in the educational process occur, the problem must be analyzed and decisions made on the most effective intervention strategy, if any. Both analysis and strategy planning might be made in coordination with parents, teachers, student, administrators, specialists, health professional and/or outside agencies. Once a strategy is decided, the counselor may or may not be directly involved but continues to reassess the effectiveness of the intervention and replan according to needs.

Through the Guidance Department, the Concord Middle School provides services and offers programs dealing with instructional, developmental and/or personal issues which affect a student’s learning process.

Service Policy Statement

The services provided by the Middle School Guidance Department are determined by the needs of this age student, some of which are unique to early adolescents and some of which are common to all students regardless of age. The manner in which these services are provided is determined by the needs of students, the internal structure of the Concord Middle School and the staffing patterns within the Department.

Counselors help students achieve realistic educational goals by providing social, psychological and educational services to pupils, families and staff.

Services to Students in:

  • Understanding self in relation to others
  • Increasing their ability to make personal, social and academic decisions
  • Assessing their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Accepting more responsibility for their own learning
  • Understanding their difficulties and participating in the problem solving process
  • Developing adequate self-discipline
  • Talking about their programs and assisting in new schedules

Services to Parents in:

  • Helping to understand adolescent behavior
  • Coordinating family/school efforts toward meeting students’ needs
  • Facilitating communication between school and home
  • Increasing awareness of the effects of varying aspects of the environment on the students’ performance
  • Participating in parent conferences

Services to Staff/Administrators in:

  • providing relevant information about the dynamics of students’ difficulties
  • providing support to staff and students toward the resolution of difficulties
  • providing ongoing consultation as part of the House Team
  • conferring with specialists in formulating programs for Special Needs students

The Guidance Department is the liaison between home and school and focuses on the maintenance of a positive home/school communication. This is done through parent conferences and informal group parent meetings which provide opportunities to share thoughts, concerns and issues. Conferences are set up to respond to parent needs through the guidance secretary in either building.

Standardized Testing

MCAS and PARCC testing is given to all students in the spring.

Reporting Student Progress

Report cards are available on line three times a year: early December, mid-March and the end of the year. Each department determines the categories in which it wishes to grade its students, i.e., literature, lab performances, homework, work habits, conduct, etc.

Interim Reports on each student are sent by all academic teachers in the middle of the 1st term (late October) to inform parents and students of students’ academic progress. At the middle of the following two terms, teachers usually send an interim to report any extreme changes in academic performance. Teachers use the Interim Reports to highlight significant progress or to report a decline in performance.

Parent conferences may be requested at any time throughout the year by parents, teachers or counselors. If a student is experiencing difficulty in only one subject, parents may wish to arrange an individual conference with that subject area teacher. If the concerns are more global, parents may wish to request a House conference. The teachers who attend a House conference are the student’s four academic teachers, world languages teacher (grades 7 and 8 only) and guidance counselor. Parents and teachers have found House conferences to be a very effective method of exchanging information and planning for a student.

To arrange a conference, parents should call the Guidance Office of the appropriate building (Peabody: 978-341-2490, x5108 for Matt Cadigan 7th and 8th grade counselor; Sanborn: 978-341-2490 x 5117 for Jenny Moran 6th grade counselor). The times available for a conference vary. However, each House has set aside a specific time during the school week. When calling for a conference, generally conferences are in the morning fro 7:50 am – 8:10, IEP or 504 meetings are at 7:40 am – 8:10. Parents will find that there is a range of times so that their schedules can be accommodated as well.

The length of the conference is limited to approximately twenty minutes. This time limitation allows the school to provide the opportunity for conferences with more parents. Exceptions to the twenty minute limit can and will be made depending upon the particular purpose of the conference.

Student Records

The school procedures for student records comply with the requirements of Chapter 71 of the General Laws of StateplaceMassachusetts and Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act, a federal statute also known as the “Buckley Amendment.” Some of the major provisions of these laws are:

  1. Any parent, or student who is 14 or has entered the ninth grade, has the right to examine all records that are maintained on the student by the school system, regardless of the record’s physical form or location. This includes standardized test scores, subjective evaluations by teachers or others, psychological tests, and discipline records. Copies of documents in a student’s record folder are available from the Guidance Office.
  2. Any parent or eligible student has the right to add any materials or statement to the student record. Any parent or eligible student may request the principal to remove or amend material from a student record. The parent or student has a right to appeal an adverse decision by the principal to the superintendent, the school committee, the courts, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  3. For information in the record to be disseminated to any outside party, written permission of the parent/guardian or eligible student must be received.
  4. Another provision of the regulations dealing with student records requires the schools to notify parents of any standardized testing programs.