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Common Core

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Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

With the yearly rise in the number of Mount Sinai students who refuse to take standardized tests — in relation to a statewide movement against Common Core — district administrators have rolled out new ways to assess and strengthen learning skills. So far, three months into the school year, school leaders believe students are reaping the benefits.

“We’re doing things differently than we’ve ever done before,” said Mount Sinai Superintendent Gordon Brosdal during a Nov. 15 board of education meeting.

Brosdal said the district has implemented new literacy-based assessment programs to fill a great need to measure the academic abilities of elementary and middle school students. Since the 2012-13 school year, more and more students have opted out of the state’s English Language Arts and Math standardized exams, which are administered to evaluate those in grades three through eight, Brosdal said.

“I don’t necessarily agree with Common Core … but it’s important for kids to take the test because you get information out of them. What do we do to inform us about the kids who don’t take it? Or get more information on those that do?”

— Gordon Brosdal

“We went from a participation rate of 97 percent down to 40 percent,” he said, pointing to the uproar among members of the community over the adoption of Common Core as the main cause. Those against the tests criticize the pressures it places on students and teachers. “I don’t necessarily agree with Common Core … but it’s important for kids to take the test because you get information out of them. What do we do to inform us about the kids who don’t take it? Or get more information on those that do?”

Joined by district principals — Peter Pramataris of the middle school and Rob Catlin of the elementary school — Brosdal showcased the growth of students at both schools as a result of the newly implemented programs. Fountas & Pinnell, which started in September, gauges the reading and comprehension level of individual
students by having them read a book with their teacher three times a year. It’s a more relaxed form of testing that serves to measure a student’s progression throughout the year while also encouraging them to find the fun in reading.

When the student demonstrates overall reading ability and understanding of the text, he or she graduates to more challenging books. Books are organized into letter-based levels, “A” books being Dr. Suess and “Z” books being “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

In a demonstration of the district’s Columbia Writing Program, which was put in place three years ago as a
result of weakness in the subject across the elementary and middle schools, Pramataris compared a middle school student’s writing assignment from the second day of school to a writing assignment in October. As he pointed out, the second assignment was lengthier, and the student’s narrative skills were punchier.

Academic Intervention Services — help offered by the state at schools to help  students achieve the learning standards, monitors and helps those falling behind.

“We see weaknesses and we want to make them stronger and really work at it,” Brosdal said. “I believe our students have become better writers and readers and they will only get stronger. We’re going to see a lot of good things.”

Catlin, who was hired as principal of the elementary school over the summer, came to the district already well versed in the new programs and was determined to help initiate them.

“We’ve really developed a district wide action plan this year,” Catlin said. “The absence of meaningful assessment results required us to have meaningful in-house assessments. We can’t be in the dark about how a majority of our kids, who don’t take the state tests, are doing.”

The absence of meaningful assessment results required us to have meaningful in-house assessments. We can’t be in the dark about how a majority of our kids, who don’t take the state tests, are doing.”

— Rob Catlin

Catlin said in the first Fountas & Pinnell session performed by the district, teachers observed that 45 percent of students in lower elementary grades (first and second) performed at or above grade level. In the upper elementary grades (third and fourth) 22 percent of students performed at or above grade level.

“There are many reasons for this,” Catlin said. “As they say, data doesn’t answer questions, it just opens up questions and makes you think more about why things are happening.”

He explained that while students at these grade levels may have understood the books they were reading, they aren’t used to answering the high level of questions about it, and aren’t engaging in enough independent reading to practice these skills.

Now that teachers have that information about the student, they will be able to directly address their needs before the second session, which takes place in January. In the meantime, the elementary school librarian has started leveling books in the library and Scholastic money from the PTO, totaling $4,000, is being used to purchase more leveled books, Catlin said.

“Now we can use resources to really target their needs,” Catlin said. “And we’re able to see progress quickly, which is nice, and not have to wait until April when the state tests are taken.”

Deena Timo, executive director of educational services and another integral player in bringing the programs to the school, said of the state tests: “We’ve always viewed them as just a little snapshot in time and not the be all, end all to assess a child. It’s that, taken with a lot of things done in the classroom throughout the year that give you a good picture of a student.”

While Brosdal said he wishes more students took the Common Core tests in order to prepare for Regents exams once they reach the high school, he agreed.

“When you have to push the state stuff aside you ask, ‘Now what do we have to measure our kids?’” Brosdal said. “In the classroom, are we seeing growth? Are they engaged now where they weren’t earlier in the year? We are reacting to what we’re seeing, trying to put better things in place. I believe we’re heading in the right direction.”

Stock photo.

By Bruce Stasiuk

We were talking about our schooling …

Remember the names of Columbus’ ships, anybody? Yes. Of course you do. Everyone in this overflowing audience knows the three names. Furthermore, you all know them in the same order. Good for you! Doesn’t matter where you went to school — from the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters, to the New York island, those names were taught to you and me — and in order!

Quite an achievement. Or, is it? Of what educational value are those three names? Virtually none, except maybe to a contestant on Jeopardy. But students are in real jeopardy if we continue to consume their limited school time with pointless facts, trivia, backward thinking, and low-level knowledge.

I dub it the “Nina Pinta and Santa Marianization” of our schools. Let’s sail back in time to Columbus. The big date — you know, it rhymes with “ocean blue. What was going on in the world during that era? Was there a printing press? Was there a global power? Were there wars going on? (Good guess. Seems there’s always a war going on somewhere.) Was his trip around the time of the Great Potato Famine or the Black Death? How long would the journey take and how was it estimated? What provisions did Columbus need to stock in order to survive the journey? How did the food not spoil? How much water could be used each day by each person and animal? How many men and animals should be boarded, realizing that each man and animal consumed food and water and made the living quarters tighter? What if winds were becalmed in the Horse Latitudes and the ships barely moved? Did they need weapons, and if so, why?

How many of us considered those questions in school? The teachers didn’t ask them, nor did they know the answers. Remember, teachers are a product of the schools themselves. They are primarily people who succeeded in school, liked it, and went on to do it — not change it. They are educational conservatives.

During the eight years I directed a class for teachers, I’d give them a test developed from fourth- and fifth-grade books. Not one teacher ever came close to passing. I’d tell them that they were either not very bright or that the material we’re teaching our kids is irrelevant to a functioning adult.

So, what if our educational system comes to its senses and realizes that constructive destruction of curriculum and teaching methods is necessary, and Common Core was not a common cure? What should we teach? Here’s a start:

Personal finances. Every school should create a bank where students have the option to invest by purchasing shares. The bank would issue loans to students and would require a student co-signer. Interest would be added to the loan reflecting the amount and length of loan. Credit rating would be developed. [Yes. I’ve done it and it works.]

What is fire, auto, and life insurance — and how do they work?

The art of being skeptical without being a skeptic. Time. What it is and how to manage it.

Relationships: What are they? How do they develop? And what is their value? Introductions: How to offer and receive.

Black boxes in airplanes and cars. What do they reveal? What are mortgages? Why do they exist?

Waste management. Where does garbage go? What are sewers and cesspools? [Water, water … not everywhere.]

Logic and reasoning with and without Venn diagrams. The art of questioning and the value of wrong answers.

The media. What it is, how it works, and the choices it makes. The illusions in movies and TV through editing, music, and more. PG-13: How and why things are rated. The goals and methods of advertising.

A school farm with irrigation. Students would have scheduled time working on the farm. A student and adult committee would handle the summer months. Kitchen duty with student assignments. Custodial duty with student chores.

The science of raising, preparing, and cooking food. The food we eat: Where does it come from? What is a hamburger bun?

Negotiating and compromising. Shipping and transportation. The evolution of things: the medicine bottle, the telephone, the sneaker, etc.

Dilemmas: how can Italy, the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil, also be the world’s biggest importer? Is there such a thing as too much?

Plumb lines, centers of gravity and sea level. Architecture, engineering, stacking blocks. Physics is everything. How technology affects our lives.

Language travels with us but never reaches a final destination.

Objects: magnifying glasses, prisms, levels, stethoscopes, magnets, ball bearings. The magic of perimeters. Zero-sum games.

The gift of failure, and the hardship of failure-deprived people. Thinking about what others are thinking by using game theory.

Your body: A user’s manual.

Bruce Stasiuk of Setauket continues to teach. He currently offers workshops as an instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, located at Stony Brook University.

Parents at a rally protest Common Core. File photo by Erika Karp

By Andrea Paldy

After six years of controversy surrounding the adoption and implementation of Common Core and standardized tests associated with it, the New York State Education Department released a new draft of learning standards Sept. 21.

The proposed changes come as the department attempts to respond to ongoing criticism, while maintaining its stated goal of rigor and higher standards for students. The result could mean significant change to both English language arts (ELA) and math learning standards and a greater emphasis on communication with parents, students and educators.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services for Three Village said it’s too early to tell whether any of the changes will be fully implemented.

“So far it just seems to be cosmetic pieces,” Scanlon said at the meeting. “However, we need to delve a little further into it to see what potential impact it may have.”

He also said Three Village is providing feedback on the possible changes and will continue to work with the SED.

In a press release announcing the proposed adjustments, the state’s education department said its aim is to ensure that the new standards and their implementation are age-appropriate, particularly in primary grades. The new guidelines also propose additional teacher resources, guidance and professional development.

“These changes reflect what I have heard from parents, teachers and administrators over the past year in my travels across the state,” Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a prepared statement.

The draft committees, made up of more than 130 teachers, administrators, parents and college educators, volunteered from all regions of the state. They represent the “Big Five” districts — New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers — as well as urban, suburban and rural districts throughout the state, Elia said. These committees are suggesting that glossaries be used to explain the value and expectations of the education department’s learning standards to all stakeholders.

The ELA draft includes a preface and introduction describing the learning standard’s role within a curriculum. The committee, which worked with a child development expert, proposes more emphasis on the importance of play-based learning in the primary grades. The ELA draft revisions also seek to streamline literary and nonfiction texts across grades, while reorganizing writing standards.

According to the draft document, math standards will be revised to clarify expectations “without limiting instructional flexibility.” Math committees also recommended clarifications to “better understand the goals of the learning standards, Elia said. The revisions seek to “define the progression of skills,” so that there is continuity and a connection from grade to grade. Other changes include creating a balance between skill comprehension, application and performance.

The recommendations of committee members — described by Elia as “dedicated” — are built, in part, on those of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) Common Core Task Force Report published in December, a public survey and feedback from discussions the commissioner had with parents and educators across the state.

The committees also worked with special education and English language teachers to address criticisms that the standards are not suitable for students in those areas.

Parents and others can comment on the draft standards on the department’s website — www.nysed.gov/aimhighny — through Nov. 4.

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By Victoria Espinoza

The New York State Education Department wants teachers and parents to weigh in on changes to Common Core State Standards, and voices are already criticizing the proposals.

The department released a draft of new learning standards for public comment at the end of last month, which included recommendations to change 60 percent of the English language arts standards and 55 percent of the math standards for New York state.

 “The overriding opinion is that it’s more of the same. They didn’t really make any substantive changes. These are more revised phrasing and language. They’re attached at the hip to the original standards.”

—Joe Rella

The recommendations came from two committees comprised of more than 130 parents and teachers and included creating a new early learning task force and a glossary of math verbs and English terms.

Middle Country Central School District Superintendent Roberta A. Gerold said teachers in the district will be reviewing the changes and submitting their commentary made throughout the month of October.

“I think that it’s good that state education is asking for teacher’s perspectives and comments on whether or not the revisions are appropriate,” Gerold said. “It says to me that they’re not finished with their revisions, because there are still adjustments that need to be made. Some of them were simple language changes, but I think there’s still more solid work that needs to be done.”

The NYS Allies for Public Education applauded the committee’s efforts but said due to the confining nature of the state education department the results are not substantive content changes.

“The result of their efforts is essentially just a rebranding of the Common Core,” the group said in a statement.

Comsewogue school district Superintendent Joe Rella echoed those sentiments.

“The overriding opinion is that it’s more of the same,” he said in a phone interview. “They didn’t really make any substantive changes. These are more revised phrasing and language. They’re attached at the hip to the original standards.”

He also said the department should have looked at the use of standards themselves.

“It was not meant to do anything but review the current standards,” Rella said. “They never got into the bigger picture, which is the appropriateness of the standards.” The superintendent said he is not anticipating anything different this school year because of the proposed modifications.

Jim Polansky, superintendent at Huntington school district, also questioned how effective these changes would be to districts.

“The truth is that the large majority of those changes are immaterial,” he said in an email. “There is still a chance that additional modifications to the new draft standards will be made following the comment period; however, I don’t anticipate that any further changes will be particularly significant either. I do not necessarily believe that the new set will be drastically different from the current Common Core.”

NYS Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said committee members spent a year listening to public comment before drafting new standards.

“Dedicated teachers, parents and educators from across the state put in countless hours to develop these new draft standards,” Elia said in a statement. “Teachers will be able to use these standards as a basis for developing their curricula and lesson plans to meet the needs of students in their classrooms. These changes reflect what I have heard from parents, teachers and administrators over the past year in my travels across the state.”

For the ELA changes, five subcommittee groups based on grade levels reviewed the original standards to see if they met the criteria for what a student should know and be able to perform at their grade level, and recommended new areas to improve standards.

Specific changes include more focus on students in prekindergarten to second grade, with an early learning task force that discusses issues for younger learners, teaching from a wider variety of texts, and developing clear communication with parents so they understand the curriculum and assignments their children are given.

Math changes include creating a glossary of verbs associated with mathematics, maintaining the rigor of standards so students are aware of what is expected of them at every grade level and providing more time for students to understand mathematics content.

Smithtown Superintendent James Grossane said his district intends to give a thorough response to the state on the changes.

“Some of the new standards reflect changes that we had already made in our local curriculum and instruction based on our own teacher and administrator input,” he said in an email. “We are providing detailed feedback to the NY State Education Department on the revised standards and will await final adoption before making any additional local changes.”

Gerold also said the reactions from the public are an important part of the process.

“I know that there’s some debate going around the state whether the changes were deep enough or developmentally appropriate,” she said. “I think all of that information will be more valid once the feedback is received from all of the stakeholders.”

To review the new English standards in more detail visit the website www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-english-language-arts, and for math standards see www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-mathematics. The public can also comment on the changes by completing a grade-level specific survey.

The public comment period ends Nov. 4.

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A community and school district stalwart will be returning to his position for at least one more year, following a unanimous school board vote to extend his contract.

“I know where I’m going next year now, thank you,” Superintendent Joe Rella said to applause when the board vote to extend his contract passed at Monday’s board of education meeting. “Nowhere.”

Rella has opposed extending his contract any further than the 2016-17 school year, according to Susan Casali, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

The extension came with a 2 percent pay raise, bringing Rella’s salary to $212,160 for the next school year. His health care contributions are remaining the same, with him kicking in 17 percent to his premiums.

Many Comsewogue residents as well as those within the greater Long Island and New York State areas know Rella for his vocal opposition to state testing and the Common Core Learning Standards. He has hosted or attended numerous protests and forums on the topics, and spoken against the standardized testing practices that he says are harmful to children.

The superintendent started working in Warriors country as a music teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School. Before becoming a district administrator, he served as the Comsewogue High School principal.

Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer and Board President Andrew Rapiejko discuss the district's letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Northport-East Northport Board of Education is seeking a moratorium on state-run teacher evaluations for the current time.

In an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Superintendent Robert Banzer criticized the fact that

public schools are still required to administer state assessments to measure student progress, despite the fact that these tests have been put on a temporary freeze.

“The district cannot use the state assessments for teacher evaluation, so it must use a form of Student Learning Objectives and report those scores for teachers even though they will not be used to determine teacher effectiveness,” Banzer said in the letter.

Student Learning Objections, first implemented in 2012,is a teacher evaluation tool used when state assessments are not in effect.

“As a result, we are burdened with setting aside time for both state assessments and SLOs, which will increase the amount of time preparing, administering and scoring assessments,” Banzer’s letter said.

In the letter, Banzer proposed that the moratorium be extended to eliminate Student Learning Objections to comply with the recommendation of the state task force, to reduce the amount of time spent on state assessments.

“Needless to say, the poor implementation of the state assessments and their use as an instrument to measure teacher effectiveness over the past few years undoubtedly minimized their effectiveness as an instructional tool,” Banzer said. “Instead, it has turned into a political debate and created a fracture between and among parents, educators, board members and political leaders that needs repair.”

Trustees applauded Banzer’s letter at the board meeting on Thursday, and discussed other concerns with the current state of Common Core.

“I think it’s really important that we engage the community,” Trustee Donna McNaughton said at the meeting. “I know that the knee-jerk reaction is to say ‘this was done so poorly … I’m not doing anything else until we change what these things are.’ But we don’t want to have four years go by and the tests haven’t changed.”

The board plans to set a date in February to meet with the community and explain where the district is now, with the changes to Common Core and teacher evaluations, along with what a student’s day will look like if they choose not to participate in the state assessments this spring.

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Comsewogue kids are going to get another view of their education system.

“Beyond Measure,” a documentary by director Vicki Abeles about “America’s troubled education system,” will be screened on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, in an event hosted by TASK, Comsewogue High School’s student government. The film is a follow-up to Abeles’ 2010 documentary “Race to Nowhere,” which provided a close-up look at the pressures placed on young students in America.

“In Beyond Measure, we find a revolution brewing in public schools across the country,” according to a description on the film’s official website. “From rural Kentucky to New York City, schools that are breaking away from an outmoded, test-driven education are shaping a new vision for our classrooms.”

Comsewogue school district and its superintendent, Joe Rella, have been at the forefront of the battle against the Common Core and standardized testing, standing out as one of the strongest voices on Long Island and in New York State. In addition to appearing at local protests, the district even went as far last year as considering a proposal to refuse to administer state exams unless the state delivered more education aid and reduced the weight of student test scores on teacher and administration evaluations.

The description of “Beyond Measure” on the documentary’s website echoes some sentiments expressed by educators and parents who oppose the Common Core and state testing.

“We’re told that in order to fix what’s broken, we need to narrow our curricula, standardize our classrooms, and find new ways to measure students and teachers,” it says. “But what if these ‘fixes’ are making our schools worse? In ‘Beyond Measure,’ we set out to challenge the assumptions of our current education story.”

Screenings of the film have taken place across the United States over the past year, with more scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

“I am thrilled that our high school students are actively playing a role in exploring education policy, and look forward to their insight,” school board member Ali Gordon said in an email. “I believe that the issue of standardized testing is central to the debate about the direction of public education all over the nation, not just here. Education policies created at the federal and state level focus heavily on data collected from standardized testing, which has resulted in a huge shift away from student-centered learning.”

Tickets to attend the screening of the film at Comsewogue High School are $10 and are available online or at the door prior to the event.

For more information about the film, visit www.beyondmeasurefilm.com.

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An anti-Common Core rally in Smithtown. File photo

By Gary D. Bixhorn & Susan A. Schnebel

After years of legislative gridlock in Washington, President Barack Obama has signed the Every Child Succeeds Act into law and called it a “Christmas miracle.” The bill had strong bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Educators across the country have eagerly awaited the passage of this bill, which replaces the 15-year-old Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind Act and the subsequent Obama Administration’s Race to the Top program. In combination, these two initiatives significantly expanded the federal government’s role in educational matters traditionally subject to state and local control. It’s been New York State’s implementation of these overreaching federal initiatives that’s generated so much dissent within the educational community and ultimately resulted in a public revolt in the form of the opt-out movement.

It appears, based on the new federal legislation, which scales back federal involvement and restores state and local control, that our leaders have learned an important lesson: A parent will not let their child’s education become an academic research project or a campaign platform. Parents expect schools to provide a safe, secure environment where teaching and leaning is fostered and protected. Given the new federal direction, it’s now time for the state to work with local school districts to give parents what they expect and students what they deserve — schools meeting high standards, with outstanding teachers and rich program offerings.

Clearly, now is the time to “hit the reset button” on reform efforts. Many of the more controversial provisions of the state’s effort to reform education were put in place to align with federal requirements that are now changing. Accordingly, key members of the state legislature are beginning to voice support for a moratorium on new state legislative requirements involving testing and teacher evaluation in accordance with recommendations of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association and others. In addition, both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state education commissioner have established advisory councils to help sort out the tangled web of issues that have been created.

We cannot delay in taking advantage of the unique opportunity that the new legislation and a moratorium offer. We have an unusual second chance, a chance to “get reform right.” This time we must approach the issues in an inclusive, collaborative manner. In order to do this we have to identify the key issues and assign responsibility appropriately for addressing each of them.

What are the issues? Simply stated, they include the adoption and introduction of higher educational standards, appropriate student assessment, meaningful teacher evaluation, equitable school finance and state support, turning around failing schools and serving student populations with unique needs. A comprehensive, coordinated approach to addressing statewide needs in each of these six areas should begin without delay.

The Board of Regents and the commissioner of education, in concert with the governor and legislative leaders, should begin to draw up a plan to bring together stakeholders and form work groups focused on each of these areas. The work groups should include nationally recognized experts in the area of focus, as well as parents and seasoned practitioners. The work group looking into school finance and state support should also include representatives of the Division of Budget, the State Education Department, the comptroller and the legislature to assure that their work is tied to the reality of the state’s budgeting process.

Overall coordination of the effort should be within a structure agreed upon by the governor, legislative leaders and the Board of Regents. This isn’t as complicated as it may sound because so much effort has been expended in working through recent difficulties. There are many people who have a wealth of experience in dealing with these issues who would willingly contribute to such an effort.

We already know what the problems are; we’ve already made our mistakes. We should take advantage of our recent experience and immediately begin a comprehensive, coordinated, inclusive and transparent process and “get reform right” this time. The stakes are far too high to delay.

Gary D. Bixhorn is the executive director and Susan A. Schnebel is the president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association.

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Laura McNamara, math chair at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, discusses how classes will change once they are officially aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

As Three Village continues to align its curriculum with the Common Core, its secondary math chairs recently shared how the district’s courses will help students meet the new challenges.

Donald Ambrose, math chair at Ward Melville High School, pointed out that the objective of Common Core math is not simply to get the answer. “It’s examining the nuances” and having a deeper understanding of the numbers and their relationships, he said at last week’s board meeting.

“It’s definitely a lot more that’s going to be expected of our students,” he said.

Across the board, there is a greater focus on fewer topics, along with greater understanding and fluency, said Laura McNamara, math chair at P.J. Gelinas Junior High. McNamara laid out the curriculum in detail from seventh grade to Algebra II.

While students will learn to link math principles across grades, it will not be at the expense of broader understanding. In the shift toward greater alignment to the Common Core, students are being asked to “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them,” Ambrose said.

During the presentation, Ambrose explained that additional expectations for Common Core math include the application of abstract and quantitative reasoning, building logical mathematical arguments and critiquing the logic of others. Ambrose added that students should be able to understand mathematical operations well enough to apply them to real-life situations and use appropriate tools to solve problems. The more rigorous approach calls for precision, an understanding of structure and higher-level reasoning, he said.

To achieve these goals, the district’s two junior high schools offer a variety of classes for students at varying levels. They range from lab classes for seventh and eighth graders who need additional support, to standard math, honors and honors theory classes, along with Regents Algebra I and Geometry.

R.C. Murphy math chair, Rocco Vetro spoke about the importance of vertical integration — that is, fluidity from elementary school to junior high. To achieve this goal the seventh grades are now piloting Go Math!, the curriculum recently adopted in the elementary schools. Vetro also discussed the district’s efforts to provide professional development to help teachers implement the more rigorous standards.

At Ward Melville, in addition to the three Regents courses — Algebra I and II and Geometry — the high school offers several Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including Calculus, statistics and computer science. Multivariable calculus, which qualifies for college credit from Stony Brook University, also is being offered. For students who complete multivariable calculus before their senior year, the math department plans to develop a course on differential equations for 2017, Ambrose said.

The district’s high school students have traditionally outperformed their counterparts in the state on all three math Regents exams, both in passing rates and, most particularly, in mastery rates. As the Regents and AP exams become aligned to the new standards, Three Village educators have set a goal of increasing the already high levels of student mastery. 

Moving forward, long term goals include adding more upper level courses, as well as continued vertical articulation between elementary, junior high and high school levels and further integration of classroom technology.

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AIMHighNY, the state’s survey for receiving public feedback on the Common Core Learning Standards, seems to be coming up short.

Board of education members from Huntington Union Free School District expressed frustration with the review system, which was felt across the North Shore this week, and said the survey did not give parents and educators enough space or time to voice their Common Core concerns.

Trustees said the review is specific and tedious, and that the section to submit opinions is “restrictive.”

Upon exploring the site, many of those claims don’t seem far-fetched.

There are more than 24 subsections of the review. At one point, the continual division of a topic into a smaller topic seems endless, and a user may need to go through more than five sections before they can write in their own comments. If a participant wanted to fill out the entire assessment, it would be no small feat — and that’s if time is on your side.

But that is not the case for AIMHighNY. The survey, which opened in October, ends in about two weeks. Schools have even said they are having multiple teachers work on one survey just to submit something.

With the amount of protesting against Common Core we’ve seen throughout New York State over the last few years, should there even be a deadline?

Perhaps like rolling admissions in college, rolling submissions in Common Core may work. Of course reviews need to be evaluated, but with the current public opinion of Common Core, it may be a good idea to continually check parents’ and educators’ suggestions and not limit their time to a four-week period.