As we begin the 2012-13 school year, Islip and all districts across the state are entering into educational reform unlike anything seen in the past century. The new reform has pressed for uniform curriculum standards, common assessments, and tough accountability rules for schools, teachers, and students – all with the common vision to have our students prepared to meet the challenges of post high school studies and the workforce.
The new math Common Core Standards demand that we slow down and devote more time to reasoning/thinking and practice. Simply, we can no longer have curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. For example, focus is on:
- Grades K-2: Addition and subtraction concepts, skills and problem solving;
- Grades 3-5: Multiplication and division of whole numbers, fractions, skills, and problem solving;
- Grades 6-8: Proportional reasoning and linearity, algebra and geometric measuring.
There are six major shifts in ELA and literacy in grades K-5:
- Students will spend 50% of their time reading using informational text. The 50/50 split between stories and content is to build a foundation of knowledge in the areas of social studies, science, and the arts.
- The same interest extends to grades 6-12, with a focus on primary documents for social studies and reference materials for science and technical subjects.
- The third move is text complexity. The new curriculum creates a staircase of complexity of expectation year by year towards career and college readiness.
- The fourth shift is focusing on questioning and close consideration to the text.
- Writing will be a focus specifically on the ability to write an argument based on evidence which conveys complex information.
- Finally, there is academic vocabulary. Students must learn the vocabulary that is present in complex text.
Most recently, New York State received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 school years on No Child Left Behind. In the waiver, high school performance measures in English and math will now be based on college and career readiness standards. Scores for English Regents are 75 or higher with math at 80 or higher. This will affect the schools’ performance index for graduation requirements.
Although this appears to be a great challenge for districts, we see this as an opportunity for change. The Board of Education and Administration appreciate the community’s support through these difficult financial times as we continue the balancing act between educational practices and budget expenses. In the months ahead, we will be providing the community with more information on these changes and welcome your input.
Our awareness of the tasks that lie ahead makes it possible for us to work out compromises that fit the limits of our expenses with the needs of our children.
On behalf of the Board of Education, we welcome back our students, staff, and the community to the 2012-13 school year.