DEPARTMENT OF CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION FRAMEWORK PROLOGUE

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1 DEPARTMENT OF CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION FRAMEWORK PROLOGUE Paterson s Department of Curriculum and Instruction was recreated in to align the preschool through grade 12 program and to standardize district-wide curriculum and instructional practices. The department now links the academic effort between twelve critical areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, World Languages, Libraries/Instructional Technology, Health and Physical Education, Fine and Performing Arts, Bilingual/ESL, Early Childhood, Staff Development, and federal statutes and state guidelines pertaining to No Child Left Behind. Paterson s Curriculum and Instruction Department seeks to meet the specific needs of all student groups in the Paterson Public School District, including bilingual/english as a Second Language and special education students. As students obtain knowledge and skills in a multitude of ways, we believe it is most productive, and efficient to concentrate on how we can best use resources to promote higher order thinking skills across an array of content areas. The current frameworks specify the content to be mastered for each grade and include benchmarks, skills/concepts, and student outcomes. Although the standards are divided into separate academic disciplines, this is not meant to imply that each standard can only be met through contentspecific courses. The very nature of learning lends itself to an integrated approach which fosters the development of activities across the curriculum. STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM FRAMEWORKS Paterson s Curriculum Frameworks are grounded in the Core Curriculum Content Standards and provide information on what students should know and be able to do in each subject area. The standards and frameworks work together to outline high expectations for all students and form the basis for the development and selection of new curricula for implementation in the Paterson Public School District. In addition to fostering academic rigor and communicating the district s expectations, the Curriculum Frameworks were written to be: Useful, helping students develop what they need for post-secondary success; Focused on what is most important and concise; Developmentally appropriate, manageable, and attainable, given the constraints of time; Adaptable, permitting flexibility in how schools and small learning communities choose to implement them, and avoiding dictating how material should be taught; Measurable, clear, and specific enough to translate into curriculum, instruction, and assessment and to be understood by all stakeholders; and Horizontally and vertical articulated among all grades, content areas, and schools through the use of strategies such as curriculum mapping. 1

2 The Curriculum Frameworks also: Describe grade-specific salient concepts, knowledge, and skills; Give examples of activities and assessments; Suggest strategies teachers might use to accommodate students' different learning styles; and Provide recommendations for exemplary resources. We expect all students (not only the best students ) to be well prepared to function in a global society for higher education or job training, challenging careers, and productive citizenship. With the intention of realizing high expectations and achieving successful results for all students throughout the district, Paterson has shifted priorities. The following chart describes the direction the district will take to improve student achievement. From Varying degrees of academic rigor (and Whole School Reform models) across schools and classrooms Minimal adult accountability for student performance Ad hoc allocation of teaching and learning resources Student outcomes that vary widely by school, grade level, and student population To District-wide standards of instruction implemented by all Paterson teachers Tight system of accountability monitoring student and school performance Strategic use of resources to support district priorities Every student meets or exceeds academic standards STANDARDS AT THE CENTER Paterson s goal is to implement instruction that is focused on and driven by the standards. Therefore, educators must continually ensure that what they teach, how they teach, how they assess students, and how they themselves are trained support the standards. Specific Concepts, Knowledge, and Skills Professional Development Standards-Based Curriculum Frameworks Instructional Strategies Assessments 2

3 Our curriculum (WHAT we teach) is the course of study a teacher follows in his or her classroom. Curriculum Frameworks contain information and suggestions that will help teachers in all content areas design age and grade-appropriate standards-based lessons and units of study. With student outcomes at its core, Paterson s Curriculum Frameworks span the K-12 continuum and specify the Core Curriculum Content Standards, strands, cumulative progress indicators (benchmarks), and specific skills to be mastered with evidence of achievement at each grade. Each content area framework includes the following: Standards-Driven Grade Level Expectations by strand, which include benchmarks for power standards, grade specific concepts/skills, and student activities that describe what children should know and be able to do, and evidence of student progress toward proficiency; Scope and Sequence of Skills that indicate when each skill is introduced, developed, mastered, and applied (K-8); Study Skills for Independent Learning to assist students in processing classroom lessons, researching activities, and utilizing home study information more effectively; Benchmarks and Interim Assessments that assess progress and guide future instruction in language arts and math. Midterms and final exams are administered in grades 9-12; Listing of current textbooks and available resources that include online sites for educators and students; Glossary that includes definitions and terms for each content area Best practices in classroom instruction (Pre K -12) Course listings for grades 9-12 that include an overview, course description, and goals and objectives The district also provides curriculum materials in each content area which are designed to support and augment instruction. These materials include: Textbooks aligned to the Core Curriculum Content Standards Quality supplemental materials and extensions for students struggling or requiring more challenge Instructional Strategies relate to HOW we teach - what teaching strategies we use with our students to help them learn. Paterson s Curriculum Frameworks include highleverage commonly held, instructional strategies to improve student achievement. These can be found in the Best Practices section. 3

4 Assessment tools MONITOR student progress and inform classroom and school practice. While traditional modes of assessment are useful, Paterson is also implementing multiple evaluation and assessment strategies that include longitudinal analysis of test results for students and programs, observations and dialogues, traditional quizzes and tests, performance tasks and projects, as well as students self-assessments gathered over time. Performance assessments, for which there are often a number of right answers or solutions, are often more accurate in gauging a student's level of proficiency. Teachers can score written essays, journals, products, demonstrations, experiments, interviews, and open-ended problem-solving questions using rubrics that clearly spell out the criteria for evaluating student performance. Paterson s assessment system consists of a four-pronged approach (screening, diagnostic, formative, and summative) that employs a set of common assessments and assignments to measure student progress. Assessments are aligned to the NJCCCS and are used for data driven decision-making and as tools in guiding instruction. These multiple assessment measures provide the tools our schools need to plan strategically, meet student needs, and establish effective instructional practices. Diagnostic and Screening Assessments include: DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills) a reading readiness screening administered in grades K, 1 and 2 to assess students foundational reading skills: phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, phonics, and reading fluency DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) a screening in grades 3 and 4 that assesses comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency skills. Results are used for differentiation of instruction, guided reading instruction, and to provide reading intervention based on students needs Formative Assessments include: ELAS (Early Learning Assessment System) an ongoing literacy assessment developed by the NJDOE. This assessment consists of benchmark tasks to be collected and scored on a learning continuum in preschool and kindergarten. The ELAS also includes student work samples and teacher anecdotes. Language Arts and Math Benchmarks Quarterly measures to assess grade level skills derived from the NJCCCS. Benchmarks are administered in grades 1 8 in language arts and K-8 in math. Scholastic Read a commercial product that is utilized to provide literacy intervention and is embedded with ongoing formative assessments to monitor student growth. (Scholastic Read 180 is required for all incoming freshmen who do not demonstrate the reading skills necessary to pass the HSPA.) District midterm exams for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 are administered in January. In conjunction with ongoing teacher assessment, midterms monitor mastery of skills and assess district progress in reaching the standards necessary to demonstrate mastery on the HSPA. 4

5 Summative Assessments include: State mandated assessments NJASK, GEPA, HSPA Terra Nova in grades 1 and 2 - identifies student needs, measures progress, and determines readiness for state assessments in language arts and mathematics Standards Proficiency Assessment (SPA) - in mathematics and language arts designed by Paterson Public Schools in conjunction with Newark Public Schools. This test is administered annually in grades 9 and 10. The SPA, which is aligned to the NJCCCS, is also used as a placement indicator to ensure success on the HSPA Final exams for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 administered in June. Final exams are aligned to the Core Curriculum Standards and to HSPA goals. The Paterson Public School District is participating in an assessment-based initiative designed to affect teacher classroom practices and create system wide formats to ensure standardization of assessment practices and collegial teacher conversations. This initiative involves site-based data teams to enhance the use of data to inform instruction. Training for data teams is scheduled to begin in the spring of Professional Development which enables every teacher, administrator, and staff member to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to create learning settings that enable all students to meet the standards. Professional development should be intensive and sustained, and should involve observing, practicing, being coached in, reflecting on, and repeating good practice. To this end, Paterson s professional development focuses on district-wide trainings that support the core curriculum, school-site capacity building, and targeted support for schools that are struggling or in transition. In order to advance this focus, the district s professional development service model is changing: From Limited support for wide range of curricula and Whole School Reform models selected by individual schools Tacit initiative process that varies substantially from one initiative to another Professional development provided primarily by central experts in district-wide workshops Resources structured to provide basic professional development support to all schools Static capacity: same central staff stays in place for years with minimal renewal Limited distribution of curriculum guides and materials To Extensive support for district-wide core curricula selected or developed by Paterson staff and teacher leaders Clear and recurring initiative process with defined roles for school and central staff Professional development via district workshops, peer networks and school-based coaching Professional development service model provides differentiated support to high priority schools and where need is greatest Flexible capacity: blending work of district staff and external consultants Principals and teachers receive materials and presentations supported by district and schoolbased staff development 5

6 Instructional Teams comprised of a principal, vice principal, facilitator, language arts and mathematics coach in each elementary school provide curriculum and instructional support to all students and staff (including English Language Learners and special education students). The instructional coach is a certified, highly qualified teacher who demonstrates leadership skills and has expertise in curriculum, instructional strategies, child development, classroom management. Professional Learning Communities (PLC) afford staff the opportunity to deepen their work with content coaches. For , support for the implementation of professional learning communities includes: Sponsoring a grant program whereby schools received support for the implementation of professional learning communities. Sponsoring Best Practices Forums to enable teachers to reflect on their own practices and share that knowledge with their peers. Working with Sopris West and the Stupski Foundation to provide on-site elementary/middle school literacy support to 13 of the district s high priority schools. Working with the Stupski Foundation to provide pull-out and on-site elementary/middle school math support to 6 of the district s high priority schools. STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM LINKED TO PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION In addition to the Curriculum Frameworks, the Curriculum and Instruction Department supports an intentional focus on curriculum implementation and instructional practices through the Excellence in Curriculum Evaluation and Learning protocol (EXCEL). This document describes a process to assess and monitor program implementation and provide technical support to schools. EXCEL highlights and aligns the salient components found in the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC), Collaborative Assessment for Planning and Achievement (CAPA), Superintendent s Initiatives, No Child Left Behind district and school-based plans, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction Education Action Plan, and the Stupski Foundation s Organizational Assessment (OA). Each department under the Curriculum and Instruction umbrella is designing and implementing a comprehensive rollout plan for the utilization of the Curriculum Frameworks. This plan includes presentations at Paterson s leadership team meetings, board of education meetings, and principals cluster meetings. Staff development will also be provided to classroom teachers. 6

7 7

8 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS A great deal of expertise, time, and research has been invested in creating the Curriculum Frameworks. Staff worked diligently both independently and collaboratively to reach this landmark. Relentless pressure and collegiality have yielded documents to guide and support instruction and student mastery from Pre-K through secondary graduation in the Paterson Public School System. Our research led us to look at various curricula from across the nation and abroad. We acknowledge the contributions made to this document from information retrieved from internet resources. We thank all of our colleagues in education who unselfishly share their curriculum material and resources on the World Wide Web. 1/26/07 8

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