Elementary Updates

January 2017

Elementary Math Assessments

We have now held 2 feedback and revision sessions to keep enhancing the common formal and formative assessments for elementary math. During our latest session, we focused on the assessments and indicators of proficiencies in key standards. We wanted to ensure that the assessments reflected the goals in standards and that our "grading" practices also reflected a standards-based mindset, rather than a "points" mindset. Our goals were to:

  • Ensure that the common assessment can be completed in one class session.
  • Ensure that the assessment is targeting key standards in the unit and has meaningful questions/tasks to measure proficiency in these standards.
  • Ensure that the assessments have a balance of question types.
  • Ensure that scoring is related to the level of proficiency in relationship to key standards.

Many thanks go out to everyone for your efforts in working to help make these assessments better indicators of students' learning!

Upcoming Math PD Opportunities

All 4th and 5th grade teachers will be participating in a professional development session on engaging students with and evaluating students responses to challenging problems. These sessions are designed to help us look at some of the challenging problems our students have completed in assessments and classwork and ways we can better coach them to apply different skills to approach challenging problems and ways we can learn about student strengths and needs from their responses to these problems. Your Instructional Supervisors have more information about the date and time you will be attending this session. Additionally, please look at some of the different elementary math offerings we have in the Winter-Spring Professional Learning Catalog. One to highlight are the sessions on rethinking the ways we are designing our math lessons. These sessions were born from many conversations about trying to marry a workshop approach with the structure of Math in Focus.

Elementary Literacy Updates

We have spent a great deal of time working to support the implementation of Math in Focus and gearing up for the new New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science (a.k.a. Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS), however, we also recognize a need to reflect on English Langauge Arts Literacy. During the past year, we have worked to ensure that there is greater access to the new Teachers College Reading and Writing Units of study and we continue to support teachers as they seek additional professional development in this curriculum area. However, it has been a while since we have taken a close look at our curriculum and practices as well as professional development needs we might have across the schools. That is why we are engaging in an Elementary Literacy Audit to help us guide and focus our work. The first part involved the Elementary Literacy Survey so that we could capture your thoughts about what you are doing in your classrooms, things that are working and needs that you have. Since we cannot tell who has responded, we hope you will share honest feedback as this will help us to craft a meaningful plan to support ELA instruction in our now 6 elementary schools.

Washington School Update

Work is underway to ensure that The Washington School has a smooth and successful opening in September 2017. In November, Mr. Peter Mercurio was named as the principal of The Washington School. He along with district and elementary school leadership have worked together to begin planning for programming and staffing. After reviewing the results from the staffing survey, Mr. Mercurio welcomed 19 teachers to make up the initial faculty of the Washington School. Construction is slated to begin at the building in late February or early March. During January, elementary leadership will be working on scheduling for all 6 elementary. There are lots of exciting things happening!