Preparing Students for Success
Educators in the Spackenkill Union Free School District work to guarantee that every student receives high quality instruction. Currently, they are aligning the K-12 English language arts (ELA) and math curriculum with the Common Core Learning Standards. In addition, they are mapping curriculum to ensure appropriate pacing of instruction and utilizing benchmark assessments that gauge learning. CLICK HERE to read a curriculum update from the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and PPS.
Process for Parents Review of Student Responses
- A parent may request a review of their students’ responses to constructed-response questions in the 2016 ELA Test Book 2 and Book 3 and Mathematics Test Book 3. For the ELA tests, parents/guardians can request to read the passages associated with the constructed-response questions. Requests must be made in person, in writing, on the district's form.
- A parent may also request a copy of the student’s constructed-response test books. This request must also be made in person, in writing, on the district's form.
- At the time the request is brought to the main office, clerical staff will check the identification of the person making the request, verify the legal guardianship of that person, and schedule an appointment for that person with the appropriate building administrator. An attempt will be made to schedule the appointment within seven working days of the submission of the request. The review will be conducted in the presence of the building administrator. If copies were requested, they will be made available at the scheduled appointment.
Setting Benchmarks for Students
State-led initiative guides local curriculum development and state assessments
The Common Core Learning Standards are benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, language and mathematics. They are a product of New York's participation in a national, state-led initiative (more at: www.corestandards.org) designed to promote college and career readiness of high school graduates. The CCLS provide a framework that educators work within to develop local curriculum. Currently, the state utilizes the CCLS as a framework for the development of its annual grades 3-8 assessments in English language arts and math. In Spackenkill, teams of teachers and administrators work to align the local curriculum with the new standards. They also participate in professional development that provides them with greater resources for CCLS implementation.
Classroom instructional models utilize the current best practices in teaching by meeting the following criteria:
• Rigorous - Lessons are challenging for every student in the classroom.
• Relevant - Activities are connected to real-life issues and applications.
• Relationships - Students have a personal connection to several staff members in the school.
By working on these criteria in all grade levels, we are preparing our students with the skills and strategies they will need to work in our region or anywhere in the world.
Common Core Resources for Parents
EngageNY.org offers a variety of resources to help parents understand the Common Core.
• Resources - www.engageny.org/parent-and-family-resources
• Guides - www.engageny.org/parent-guides-to-the-common-core-standards
• Interpreting State Assessment Scores - www.engageny.org/resource/interpreting-3-8-ela-mathematics-tests-results-score-reports
Curriculum and Instruction
Literacy and Assessment
We are implementing instructional programming that meets the individual needs of students in reading, writing, word study and thinking in English language arts (ELA) classes and in all areas of the New York State Learning Standards. All schools continue to implement a balanced literacy framework - reading, writing and word study - in classrooms and content areas. With a stronger foundation in “first or initial” teaching, we are focusing on better ways to assess students’ strengths and needs. This begins with kindergarten and continues with general education teachers across the grades. We are expanding our assessment skills to include more diagnostic tools for our struggling learners. We have ongoing professional development for all teachers and administrators in the best ways to conduct student assessments.
Spackenkill High School (Grades 9-12)
Spackenkill High School students are encouraged to connect with the academic support services offered. The high school continues to have strong visual arts and music programs and offers students expanded opportunities for advanced classroom experiences.
Todd Middle School (Grades 6-8)
The staff at Todd Middle School is focused on literacy strategies, specifically reading and writing in the content areas. The school staff continues to look at different ways to provide support and intervention for our student population and utilizes data throughout the evaluation process.
Hagan Elementary School (Grades 3-5)
We continue to develop staff and fine tune our curriculum and teaching methods.
Nassau Elementary School (Grades K-2)
We continue to develop staff and fine tune our curriculum and teaching methods.
Visual Arts, Music, Physical Education and Athletics
Spackenkill students may choose from a variety of classes and activities throughout their educational experience.
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Response to Intervention is an educational strategy used in schools to:
1. Provide effective and high-quality instruction
2. Monitor all student progress/make sure they are progressing as expected
3. Provide additional support (intervention) to students who are struggling
RTI can be considered an early intervention tool that is designed to quickly identify students who need extra help, thereby preventing long-term failure. The monitoring of students allows teaching professionals to identify the exact skill areas where pupils need additional instruction that is targeted to a student’s individual needs. If the student is not responding, other instructional approaches are used and/or the intensity is increased. This progression through more intensive instructional practices is the reason RTI is often described as a “multi-tier” system.
What is a Student Learning Objective (SLO)?
An SLO is a document a teacher develops to set academic goals for individual students in their class. It includes a description of classroom learning and will be used to measure student growth. Under the new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) regulations, part of a teacher’s evaluation is based on the amount of improvement or growth a student demonstrates during the school year.
Understanding the New York State Testing Program
Each year, students in grades 3-8 take a variety of state assessments that are designed to measure whether they are meeting the New York State Learning Standards. The following is designed to provide insight into what is involved in state testing and how to interpret the test results.
Why do students take tests based on the state standards? Students take these tests so the state can assess how well students and schools in general are progressing in the various subject areas. The content of the tests are based on the New York State Learning Standards and Common Core curricula and overseen by the New York State Education Department (more at www.nysed.gov).
How is the data from the test results used by the schools and teachers? Teachers and school administrators use group data to plan instructional programs and individual student data to learn more about each student’s skills.
Who will see my child’s score? Teachers and administrators in the district will see the test scores but, as with all educational records, they are otherwise confidential. Schools send parents detailed reports on English language arts and mathematics test results once they are available from the state.
Why do I need to know my child’s test scores? By knowing your child’s test scores, you can gauge how well he/she is developing certain skills in comparison to other students around the state. You can use this knowledge when talking with your child’s teachers about academic concerns. Scores can also make you aware of your child’s strengths.
Academic Contact Information
For district-level questions about curriculum, instruction, special education and learning, please contact Dr. Lori Mulford, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Personnel Services (pictured right).