LIVINGSTON, NJ — Dr. Mathew Block, Superintendent of Livingston Public Schools (LPS), recently provided a mid-year update on the district’s four goals for the 2020-2021 academic year, including the continuation of a goal implemented last year that seeks to review and refine strategies to enhance instruction and learning outcomes in mathematics for elementary and middle school students.

Based on a program called “Math in Focus” that centers on problem-solving was previously presented to K-2 students at Livingston Public School (LPS), elements of these problem-solving strategies will be introduced to all elementary and middle school students through grade eight.

According to Block, current action items to achieve this goal include continuing professional development for K-2 teachers utilizing materials that have been ordered to support their understanding and implementation of the new program. To date, all K-2 teachers have observed sample lessons while administrators have provided in-classroom coaching and support through lesson observations.

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For grades three through eight, new problem-solving approaches have been introduced to align with the “Math in Focus” program. According to Block, teachers at those grade levels have been discussing new approaches to problem-solving while incorporating them into lessons at all levels.

Additionally, the district is conducting a regular analysis of data, including assessment results and LinkIt! data, and a common mathematics assessment has been created for students grades three through five.

According to Block, other student assessments are ongoing as well. All second-graders, who were first to utilize the new program during the 2019-2020 academic year, were assessed once in December and will be assessed twice more during the current school year, in March and June, to analyze their progress.

Current first-graders, who first experienced the program in kindergarten, will be assessed in at the end of this school year.

Block announced that progress has already been made at the second grade level, where the district saw an overall increase of 15% in scores for assessments covering both mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), with a greater growth level attributable directly toward the math score.

Professional development is also ongoing district-wide through “Math in Focus” trainers and consultants. This includes individual coaching lessons from the mathematics supervisor as well as weekly small-group sessions for all teachers.

Block concluded that outreach to families is ongoing as well, with family nights being planned for the near future.

The superintendent noted that two K-2 Parent Academy sessions and one 3-5 Parent Academy sessions were recently conducted in order to ensure that LPS parents are able to provide support for their students as they navigated the new program. According to Block, all parent nights were extremely well-attended, with between 150 and 200 participants participating in each session via Zoom.

During his mid-year update on this initiative, Block specifically acknowledged Angelina Rodriguez, LPS K-6 Math Supervisor, and Natalie Topylko, LPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction, STEM/Testing, for their significant investment in this goal “on a daily basis.”

In forming the district goals for 2020-2021, this focus area was deemed a top priority for the district to continue from the previous year.

Block noted that the belief is that consistency of goals provides for “deeper impact and clear direction.” He confirmed that three of the four goals are a continuation of prior areas of focus because the belief is that “real change happens over a long period of time.” 

Additional areas of focus for the current academic year include the following:

1. Improve the culture and community at LPS by enhancing inclusiveness, cultural awareness, anti-racism and acceptance of individual differences through mandated curricular programing, extracurricular programming and district operations;

2. Identify and incorporate effective instructional methodologies that create positive social and emotional support for students; and

3.  Increase capacity of teachers to utilize instructional technology to deliver effective in-person, hybrid, or remote learning experiences to advance student growth and achievement in all areas.

During his recent report, Block incorporated action steps, intended outcomes, updates and plans moving forward for each of these goals. He also reiterated that although a certain area was not specifically defined as a district goal this year does not preclude it from being addressed.

CLICK HERE to read Block’s mid-year update on the district’s cultural awareness initiative.

His most recent update on the remaining two district goals will be shared in the coming days.

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