Our children must be college and career ready. What does that mean in our constantly changing world? It means that our children must be technologically savvy and be able to read, write and problem solve in highly focused and skilled ways. In order to prepare our children for their future, the Board of Regents of New York State has initiated a reform agenda that includes; the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, improving teaching and learning through a rigorous teacher and principal evaluation system, and using student performance data to make instructional decisions.
The Avon Central School District has embraced the Common Core Learning Standards as a means to ensure all students are college and career ready. Over the summer, and throughout the school year, we have been engaged in learning about the new standards; revising and improving our curriculum and using a variety of tools to gage student learning to inform our instructional practice. A critical change is that every teacher, regardless of what course they teach, must be a teacher of literacy. The English Language Arts Standards of the past are now the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy. In addition to adding literacy in all content areas, there are also six (6) essential shifts in the Math and ELA/Literacy Standards. These shifts represent a reapplication of emphasis and rigor. However, they are not a complete deviation from what we have been teaching.
The shifts in math are; a deeper focus on prioritized concepts, coherence within and across grades so that each standard is not a new event, but an extension of previous learning, increased fluency with simple calculations, deep conceptual understanding such that students are able to apply them to new situations, the ability to choose the appropriate concept even when not prompted to do so and a dual intensity for both the practice and understanding of each concept. The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics are crafted to stress a conceptual understanding of key ideas, as well as by continually revisiting the organizing principals such as place value or the properties of operation to structure the ideas.
Shifts in English Language Arts and Literacy are; balancing informational and literacy text, content area teachers outside of the ELA classroom emphasize literacy experiences in their planning and instruction, gradually increasing the complexity level of text as students move up each grade level, students using text to make evidentiary arguments both in conversation and in writing, writing to inform or make an argument rather than to convey an experience and the constant building of academic vocabulary. The Standards in ELA/Literacy delineate what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. For more information on the Common Core State Standards, visit www.engageny.org.
The second initiative of the reform agenda is the development of a new teacher and principal evaluation system. The three main components of the system are; student performance on State assessments, student performance on locally selected assessments and lastly, the teacher's acquisition of the NYS Teaching Standards or the principal's acquisition of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards adopted by NYS. The Avon Central School District has created an evaluation committee comprised of teachers and administrators. This committee has been charged with the task of revising the Avon Central School District Annual Professional Review Plan for teachers. The administrative team is also collaborating with Superintendent Pacatte to develop an Administrative Performance Review Plan.
Teachers and administrators have always used a variety of tools to ascertain student learning needs so as to plan their instruction and programs. The reform agenda offers specific tools and processes to ensure a more deliberate use of student performance data in instructional planning. The cycle is not new; assessment, analysis, action. This process is done at all levels; classroom, building and district wide to guide our instructional decision making, which includes everything from what to reteach tomorrow to how to structure course offerings and staff development. In Avon, teachers and administrators are reviewing all types of student achievement data. Groups of administrators and teachers are researching a variety of literature on the topic such as, Driven by Data by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, in order to further refine their existing processes.
A variety of organizations provide ongoing and in-depth information of these and other topics related to the education of our children. The National PTA is a good source of information for parents. Please refer to www.pta.org/4996.htm for a grade level summary of what your child will learn at each grade level. Engageny.org is a website sponsored by the New York State Department of Education and offers a wealth of information on the Common Core State Standards, Annual Professional Performance Review legislation and Data Driven Instruction, and also includes links to several other informational sites. Additionally, the District will provide periodic informational updates. Watch the curriculum and instruction page of our website, www.avoncsd.org, for more information this spring and summer.
The Avon Central School District mission to develop lifelong learners and responsible citizens equipped to prosper in the global society is in perfect alignment to the goals of the reform initiative. We are truly blessed and grateful for the dedication of time and effort all of the Avon Central School staff has devoted and continue to devote to supporting the growth and development of our students.