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Framingham schools surprised at increase in enrollment Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Charlie Breitrose 508-626-4407 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- The school district grew by 95 students over last year and enrollment in classes to teach immigrant children English increased by 59, Assistant Superintendent Walter McClennen told the School Committee last night.

The jump in enrollment caught school officials off guard, said McClennen, who had his secretary double-check the figures in the Oct. 1 enrollment report to make sure they were right.

"The last few years, there seemed to be a leveling of the population," McClennen said.  "Even this September, we thought we would be down about 50 students, but we found an increase of about 95."

Framingham now has 8,331 students in the school system, which includes preschool and the K-12 schools.  The preschool program grew by 21 students, McClennen said, and the high school added 59 students to raise its enrollment to 2,138.

The change will not have a major impact on the district, McClennen said, but he said there are a few places officials should keep an eye on.  One place is Barbieri Elementary School, which already has the largest student body of the town's grade schools.  The school now has 658 students, up 26 from last year.

Parents have the option of enrolling in any of the eight elementary schools that have open seats.  Barbieri has some room, McClennen said, but he said the school might consider cutting off enrollment of new students.

"There is just sufficient space -- there are seats within classes without pushing the class-size limit -- but it is a large school," McClennen said.  "I don't like closing it to enrollment when we have open seats, but we don't want to push up enrollment too far."

Also last night, Director of Curriculum Nancy Sprague gave the board a report on the latest MCAS results.

A large majority of this year's Framingham High School juniors passed the both the math and English tests this year -- which are graduation requirements -- when they took the test last spring.  Eighty-seven percent of the students passed both tests, while 5 percent -- or 25 students -- failed both sections.  Forty-three students -- or 8 percent of the class -- passed one section, but failed the other portion.

The district's scores were better than the state average in 10th-grade math and English, and eighth-grade science, Sprague said, and had the same average in fourth-grade English and eighth-grade math.  Framingham's average fell below the state's mark in third-grade reading, fourth-grade and sixth-grade math, fifth-grade science and seventh-grade English.

School Committee Vice Chairman David Miles told Sprague he would like to see a more detailed analysis of how the district has fared over time, and even how students fared as they moved through the system.

"It doesn't mean much looking at how well we did compared to the state," Miles said.  "It does not tell us how well we did compared to last year, or how well (a group of students) did in sixth grade compared to fourth grade.

"We would like to track those same kids up through high school."

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