Questions from April 17th PD Session: Responses from Dr. Cocchiola
Responses will be updated new information becomes available 1. If part of the problem is that students are lacking problem-solving skills and lack the ability to work cooperatively, how are these new standards going to address those concerns?
The new standards are research based and designed to provide a renewed focus (rigor) on instructional procedures. There is a significant amount of training involved in executing this transition. The curricula being written are intended to build these skills into the instructional program.
2. How are special area and K-2 teachers evaluated without NJ Smart data? Equity?
This isn’t clear to us at this time. The DOE claims that a fair method will be developed.
3. Will they start testing lower than third grade?
I am not sure if PARCC will extend to the lower primary level, but the district will need to develop its own benchmark assessments at this level if the DOE does not. This is a current need in the district that we intend to address through an assessment program called Link-It.
4. Will report cards reflect CCSS?
The areas on the Progress/Report card respond to student progress in the approved curriculum as per the sequence of instruction. In that manner an assessment of progress will reflect competency with the CCSS. As we begin to plan for a new Student Information System we need to review the report card format and content and revise accordingly. I assume this would begin in the next school year.
5. Can teachers have a say as to what 15% can be added to the standards?
The DOE’s position is that teacher and administrator input is important in all phases of these initiatives if they are to have a chance to succeed. I can’t vouch for how this will happen, but only that it has been discussed.
6. What if the student(s) are not at grade level. Can you change the core standard to a higher/lower grade level, depending on their level?
Unless a student has an IEP, or is ESL eligible, I assume that they will be expected to perform at their grade level. This is no different to the way we approach this currently with the NJASK and HSPA as verification of proficiency with the NJ Standards.
7. For history will the district change how much is taught so we can do more writing and reading?
A decision on this is premature. The entire language arts curriculum, including the balanced literacy approach, is constantly under scrutiny as to effectiveness. The specifics of the scope and sequence of instruction, and what programs are to be used should be developed by the appropriate administrators/supervisors, and in a consistent manner across the district. We should already have a literacy link for history/social studies to develop language arts proficiency in place. The inclusion of more language arts literacy skills does not have to reduce the amount of history content students are exposed to.
8. If we are expected to go more in depth with material, does that mean we can cover fewer units? Also, if we cover less, what will the State test contain?
Again, the scope and sequence of instruction becomes a matter of administrative direction and the teacher’s decision-making as to what pace to pursue. The “State Tests” will transition into the PARCC assessments that will be designed around the CCSS design. It seems at some point that the amount content may need to be revised to provide for more focused instruction on identified skills.
9. If South Plainfield adopts the new standards, there seems to be a greater emphasis on critical thinking. Does this mean there will be less content to be covered each year? It is impossible to have both length and depth.
The CCSS have been adopted by the state of NJ, and as such the S. Plainfield School District. Our current curriculum writing is as per the Common Core. This does include a renewed emphasis on critical thinking, among other things. The matter of how much content will be covered depends on the content area. There will apparently be a restructuring of the content in regards to what is presented, and when. Depth of instruction appears to be the focus at the expense of some content. The matter of appropriate “length” is one that can always be debated.
10. Why is United States History I taught 4 times during a South Plainfield student’s educational career? There should be more of a focus on civics/government/citizenship.
I can’t speak to the genesis of this. It will be an issue that the new Supervisor of Language Arts Literacy and Social Studies will have to investigate. It appears we will continue in the same manner for 12-13, with any changes in 13-14.
11. We teach classes that have AP students and students who have ICS for other subjects (but not for business) in the same section. This is incredibly frustrating for both students and teachers. How can we fix this? Can we create sections to accommodate different levels?
There are situations where students of different levels of ability may be in the same classes, although this does not usually occur in the major content areas (SS, English, Math, Science). Many see this type of heterogeneous grouping as an advantage for all concerned. We would have to know specifically which courses are referred to here.
12. Is it possible to have elective courses separated into academic and general sections?
It would be possible only if there were enough sections offered in that area. However, it is more challenging to all concerned if the manner of instruction were the same for all students regardless of their past academic history and perceived ability in elective courses, in which in many cases success is not bases on pure academic ability, but also on commitment, industriousness and personal interest in the subject area.
13. When and who will develop CCS for Business/Technology?
The curriculum will be written in June and/or over the summer by appropriately certified staff.
14. What about resource classes? The students are not at grade level, that’s why they are there. Can’t they still use texts below their lexile level?
This is possible as a supplement to the grade level work. Their instructional program is tied into the IEP, which could make exclusions re: texts.
15. How will the new standards work in terms of goals and objective for special ed? For example, a 6th grade special ed student might/will need to work on standards from grades 5 or below. Can we use standards for lower grades for classified students?
This will apparently be IEP driven.
16. How are special ed teachers going to get a fair evaluation under EE4NJ if 50% of their evaluation is based on assessments? Or basic skills teachers? Gym teachers?
The DOE has ensured us that a procedure will be in place to address these issues. I don’t know how this will be resolved, but the matter is not being ignored.
17. With the technology piece and the digital requirements within these new standards, how will we as a district meet these demands?
The district’s technology infrastructure and hardware needs are being enhanced significantly within the next several months to address this and other tech-related matters such as a new SIS system.
18. How are they going to test all of the students at the same time on the computer?
The timing of the administration of the assessments will apparently be staggered.
19. Are the Go Math books for school year 2012-2013 coming in (for teachers) in June or the first day of school?
Funds have been provided in the budget, however POs have not been processed yet. Considering the amount of material this is a detailed process that will probable by done before June 1, but we can’t promise that the material will be received before staff leaves for the summer.
20. 15% to be added – What will be in that 15%? How much rigor/depth should be added to these skills? For Grade 6, what is considered multi-digit numbers? 2 by 2, 3 by 4 digit?
It is difficulty to specifically identify the nature of the 15%, and a review of the CCSS in math should answer the question of the nature of “multi-digit” numbers.
21. For 5th grade CCSS, Geometry 5.G, we would like some sample problems for #2.
Again, this should be a result of analyzing the CCSS standards in math. Mr. Parisi should be the contact for the investigation of sample problems.
22. What does rigor mean? More challenging or requires more time?
I interpret “rigor” to mean a more focused emphasis on identified skills. The DOE describes it as changing from an instructional program that is a “mile wide and an inch deep” to one that is “an inch wide and a mile deep”. More time does not seem to be an option, but a better use of the time provided is the goal.
23. Are we getting other Go Math materials? Ie assessment book, manipulative tool kits, grab and go reading books?
We are attempting to find funds for the manipulatives, but this is extremely expensive because at this time the request is for each teacher at each grade level at each school (K – 6) to have their own kit. We are considering providing one per grade level at each school, but will not do so unless the staff feels that they can work with this approach.
24. Is NJ ASK Science going away or will it be rolled into the PARCC?
Hard to say, but with the emphasis at the secondary level moving towards specific end-of-year assessments in each major content area it seems that these type of assessments at the lower levels will remain in place at some grade level.