NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Board of Education (BOE) heard two more presentations as part of the Think Tank 2.0 process at its Thursday, Oct. 22 meeting. Last month the presentation topics were Curriculum and Social/Emotional Learning. This time Jay Richter, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision presented Data Driven Decision Making while Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lauren Zirpoli and Department Head for Science Leah Bromley gave a presentation on Instructional Strategies.

The Think Tank 2.0 ideas are geared towards meeting the educational needs of Generation Z as well as preparing them for the world shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The district is gathering data that can be used to improve teaching and student achievement for Gen Z students. The date is gathered through literacy assessments and tests, state testing, as well as teacher observations and student work. The research show that Gen Z wants data. It also shows that even elementary school age children understand their own way of learning, Richter said.

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Richter emphasized that data analysis is critical in understanding the needs and interests of Gen Z students. He noted that personalized learning is important and that students value immediate feedback. “Data analysis informs instructional decisions, promotes collaboration, and shows progress towards the attainment of educational goals,” he said.

The Data Driven Decision Subcommittee recommends that the district develop a district-wide culture of data analysis to enhance teaching and student achievement. The subcommittee also recommends a creation “of school-based data teams to support staff with the use of data driven decisions to effectuate improvement to teaching and student achievement.” The use of the Performance Matters data warehouse analytics and assessment system should also be implemented. The subcommittee also wants to expand the role of the district Data Analytics/Management Specialist.

The Instructional Strategies Subcommittee looked at new ways of teaching and learning. The key aspects of the renewed teaching and learning methods are modernization of classroom instruction and the role of teachers. Zirpoli noted that teachers are taking the role of mentors and facilitators in the classroom while students “have a voice”. The goal is to have students feeling empowered and focused more on the process and less on the outcome, she explained. The learning is becoming more personalized, inquiry based and collaborative.

The subcommittee recommends that the teachers’ professional development be restructured. It also recommends that teachers and professional learning communities be provided “collaboration time to develop new assessment strategies and modernize previous formative and summative assessments.”