WEST CALDWELL, NJ — District administrators presented a curriculum update during Monday’s Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education meeting.
Alyna Jacobs, Director of Elementary Education; Lauren Guarino, Elementary STEM Instructional Coach; and Carol Macken, Elementary Humanities Instructional Coach provided information as to how the district is meeting the goals of the district’s mission statement.
The board’s approved mission statement states that Caldwell-West Caldwell students will “achieve their greatest potential as lifetime self-directed learners, critical and creative thinkers, and responsible, productive citizens.”
District goals seek to engage all students in learning, but there are also aligned school-based goals. Jefferson Elementary School’s stated goal is to “promote our students’ love for reading so they will ‘bring their reading into the classroom’ and learn from it,” according to the presenters.
Lincoln Elementary School’s goal is to “increase student voice within reading time.” The thrust at Washington Elementary is a quantitative measurable goal that “at least 80 percent of our students will be reading on or above grade level by the end of the school year,” they said.
Wilson Elementary seeks to “provide students with meaningful feedback (relevant, timely, clear, goal-focused).”
According to the presenters, building instructional coherence in elementary education will be achieved by supporting principals in their building-based goals, collaboration with instructional coaches, observation focus: Reading Workshop, supporting implementation of current board-approved curriculum and expansion of Fundations K-3.
As the district’s goal is to provide support for all learners, there also are supporting programs to assist in the presentation of curriculum.
Additional support programs include Basic Skills Instruction, After School Programs, Expeditionary Learning Programs and a reading specialist for first grade. The district also provides opportunities for enrichment and for the gifted students.
The K-2 program “PETS” is a push-in (presented in the classroom) while the 3-5 grade students experience a pullout session grouped with a mix of students within the three grades. The pullout sessions currently have 45 students district-wide and are scheduled during either recess or lunchtime due to scheduling constraints that Jacobs acknowledged is “problem we are trying to solve.”
This school year, a new science program has been implemented for students K-6. Smithsonian Science was chosen after a lengthy and thorough process that began in during the winter/spring of 2019.
Selection criteria was determined, a committee representing teachers in the K-6 were engaged in the process and classroom pilots were instituted to determine the ultimate program. Smithsonian Science was chosen for many of the attributes that include that it was inquiry based, focused on four strands, content learning through exploration, coherent storylines that build to a performance task and design solutions for real-world problems.
Macken, who discussed social studies curriculum updates, stated that teachers representing K-5 were engaged reviewing state mandates over the summer, such as the Amistad curriculum and study of the Holocaust. Focusing on major shifts of utilization of primary documents, experiential learning, multiple perspectives and diverse resources social studies curriculum has been updated.
As it is grade-appropriate, highlights from the social studies curriculum will include the following: kindergarten will be discussing “Our School Community”, first grade, “Our Neighborhood”; second grade, “Our Community”; third grade, “Our State”; fourth grade, “Our Country”; and fifth grade, “Exploration through Revolution.”
The district also will be considering a new math program for K-6. During the fall and winter of this year, a committee of K-6 grade teachers will be considering three programs to implement in the 2020-2021 school year.
The math programs under consideration include investigations, everyday math and math expressions. According to the presentation on Monday, classroom teachers will be piloting the various programs, and a final selection will be determined in February 2020.
In other district news, enrollment numbers as of Sept. 30 were also presented during Monday’s meeting as part of the regular agenda. According to the board, total enrollment for the district now stands at 2,674 students.
James Caldwell High School has a total of 826 students, with the sophomore class being the largest class at 229 students.
Grover Cleveland Middle School has a total enrollment of 642 students, with the 7th grade currently having the largest number of students equaling 234.
Wilson Elementary School has the smallest enrollment amongst the elementary students, totally 254 students, while Washington Elementary School has the largest student population with 395 students.
Additionally, Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Heinegg acknowledged the retirement of ESL teacher Patricia Colangelo and Betty Ann Hansson, who worked in the guidance office in the high school. Heinegg wished them well in their retirement and thanked them for their many years of service to the district.
The board also accepted the resignation of the Director of Secondary Education, Sumit Bangia, effective Dec. 6, 2019.
The next regularly scheduled board of education meeting will be held on Nov. 11.