As get underway Superintendent Enid Golden said there are some big changes this year that she hopes will make for a successful year in the classroom across the district.
From new curriculum to new report cards among others, the 2012-2013 figures to be a busy one for the Howell Public Schools.
When it comes to curriculum Golden said the district will be implementing new parts of the National Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. She said last year they started with math for kindergarten through second grade. This year they will apply the new standards in language arts throughout the schools and math for grades three through five. When school starts again next September she said they plan to implement math in grades six through eight.
One of the biggest changes for the English Language Arts standards is that it will be used for not only those classes, but also across the academic spectrum. "For example, social studies teachers will instruct students about strategies that can be applied when reading informational text about social studies," she said.
Golden said all teachers being responsible for teaching what she called, "literacy skills," and added that at the elementary level 50 percent of the required readings "will be using informational text rather than fiction."
The math classes will also see what Golden described as "significant changes." She said there will be new standards across the grade levels that will make each year unique for the students. "Each grade level will have new mastery expectations that will not be repeated in other grades," she said. There will also be a new textbook series that includes online access in the elementary levels.
In addition to working with the schools in the district, Golden said the Howell Schools will be working closer with their partners in the Freehold Regional High School District to apply the new standards. "This will ensure that our students and students in these districts have similar academic experiences as they prepare for a common high school."
Another major focus this year for the district is closing the for students. "For the most part, data analysis of state tests has indicated that, the achievement gap exists between students identified as Economically Disadvantaged and Non-Economically Disadvantaged," Golden said.
To tackle the issue the superintendent said principals in each building have made proposals on how they plan to close the gap by eight percent. That includes Literacy Specialists, Math Specialists at the middle school level and other resources that will be used depending on the school. "In all buildings there will be an increase in opportunities for parents to become involved in their child's education," she said.
Working with the district's special education students will also be a focus for the District this year Golden said. Teachers in the autistic program are set to receive extra training from the Carbone Clinic while others will take part in what she called the Regional Professional Development Academy "for training related to meeting the needs of special education students in inclusive environments." She added some staff will be trained in "Wilson Reading," which she said is a "specialized reading program."
The district will also continue its iPad initiative for students in special education, speech and English as a Second Language classes according to Golden.
Along with the new curriculum and training the Program will also be fully rolled out to the district. The new cards will be used for Kindergarten through fourth grade in September while fifth through eighth grade will receive a "modified version," Golden said.
Those students, she said will continue to get letter grades and, "Initiative and work habits will be addressed under separate standards," she said. "These attribute standards will highlight the completion of assignments, preparedness for class and other behaviors that support learning on a rubric of 4,3,2 or 1."
With the new report cards comes a new system for distributing them. The district will go to a "trimester reporting system," Golden said. The new report cards will be received on or around Dec. 14, March 22 and June 20.
The start of the 2012-13 school year is a priority for the schools but Golden said they are also keeping an eye on the future of the district. That includes the work of the that currently includes residents, teachers, administrators, parents and students. "At the end of the last school year the Curriculum and Infrastructure Committees submitted recommendations," Golden said. "The Funding Committee will be exploring alternate ways to fund these recommendations."
Golden said the hope is to have a final proposal ready for the Board of Education sometime during the current school year.