SUMMIT, NJ - An administrative assessment of the district’s basic skills program, which included the direct involvement of basic skills teachers, will result in the elimination of five basic skills teaching positions from the program, according to Summit schools superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker.  Parker released this information in a letter to the Presidents of the PTO/PTA last night.

“A detailed review of the basic skills program was conducted by the Board of Education Curriculum Committee and its findings have been reported,” Parker said by phone on Wednesday afternoon.

The reductions are part of a comprehensive effort to improve Summit's basic skills program by implementing a set of programmatic goals aimed at greater compliance with federal guidelines.

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The improved program will include clear entry and exit requirements, a systematic method of assessment and involve regular classroom teachers to reinforce the mainstream classroom services provided by basic skills teachers.

“We are not eliminating the basic skills program,” Parker said. “All current basic skills teachers are being re-hired.  Five teachers are either being redeployed as special education teachers and/or regular education teachers depending on their skill set, certification, individual school needs and vacancies.”

Parker said that the district conducted an analysis of the number of students in need of basic skills services in all of the buildings and made a determination of how the staff would be deployed.

As part of the anticipated changes, Franklin and Lincoln-Hubbard will share one basic skills teacher.  Brayton will have one full-time basic skills teacher, Washington will have two full-time basic skills teachers, and Jefferson will have three full-time basic skills teachers.  Their assignments within the respective buildings will be further differentiated based on the needs of the students within each building.

The district’s basic skills program is currently staffed by twelve staff members. The district determined that it was overstaffed compared to other districts, and also saw a program inconsistent with federal guidelines making the effectiveness difficult to measure due to a lack of clearly defined student goals.

In March of 2009, the Board of Education established four core focus areas. One of the focus areas was the assessment of all district programs to determine those that were successful and those that needed improvement.

“One of the programs that the district had been looking at is the basic skills program,” Parker said.

Basic skills are part of the federal government’s standards-based education reform, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, which is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.

The act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades, if those states are to receive federal funding for schools. The Act does not assert a national achievement standard; standards are set by each individual state. 

Click here to read Dr. Parker's letter to the Presidents of the PTO/PTA.