April 2, 2014
Dear Parent/Community Member,
This has been an exciting transitional year for me. For the last seven years, I’ve primarily worked with the special education teachers and staff. In my new position, I now have the opportunity and pleasure of working closely with all of the teachers and staff in all of the buildings. Although there have been numerous challenges given all of the changes in education, I continue to be impressed and energized by our students and the entire Spackenkill community. Through my daily experiences, it is reinforced that Spackenkill is a very special school district.
In the area of curriculum and instruction, the Spackenkill Union Free School District will be starting the process of developing and revising grade-level and subject-area curriculum maps. The curriculum maps of the Spackenkill Union Free School District will be a collaborative and dedicated effort of our teachers and administrators.
The foundation of the curriculum maps is the New York State Learning Standards and the Common Core Learning Standards, as well as our own district standards. Our maps will represent rigorous and high-quality K–12 curricula and ensure continuity and progression at each level.
The district has transitioned to a user-friendly web-based curriculum mapping program. This web-based program is called Atlas and is utilized in many districts in Dutchess and Westchester counties. The focus of our work at this time is on updating our scope and sequences (topics, or units) in all areas throughout the district. This work will begin after state tests this spring.
Once the scope and sequences have been updated, we will begin updating our curriculum maps. These curriculum maps will reflect our commitment to a Standards-based curriculum that seeks to develop critical thinking and communicative competencies, in keeping with our district's mission and vision. Curriculum maps are broad guidelines of what will be covered in each course. The actual delivery of instruction in different courses and by different teachers, of course, will vary to fit the needs of the students. But, the overall curriculum design ensures equal access of all students to the same high standards and expectations for the content covered. This will be an ongoing effort of our instructional staff in order to complete the multi-year project of curriculum mapping.
For the first time, the Spackenkill Union Free School District will have an electronic, recorded map of the K–12 curricula that is easily accessible, searchable, and user-friendly. The curriculum maps will be utilized in a variety of ways:
- to provide teachers with an understanding of what has occurred prior to their grade or course and what will follow;
- to track the spiraling development of skills from one grade to another as well as across different subjects as they plan for new curriculum initiatives;
- to allow teachers in different grades and subjects to have more meaningful conversations about their programs;
- to eliminate redundancies and close gaps in learning, K–12;
- to offer new teachers a clear understanding of what they are expected to teach and what their students are expected to know and be able to do; and
- to provide the faculty with the ability to pinpoint trouble spots as well as areas of proficiency.
- Other curriculum and instruction updates include:
- We are having ongoing conversations regarding testing redundancy and looking into the possibility of administering MAP testing twice a year.
Consistency of instruction
- Curriculum mapping will ensure consistency at each grade level.
- New York may be adopting the Next Generation Science Standards.
- We are exploring a new science program at the elementary level that is more aligned with the proposed science standards.
- GO Math! diagnostic assessment will not be administered in the fall at Hagan.
- Elementary principals will work with teachers at the end of the year to update pacing charts and chapter tests, as they deem appropriate for next year.
Curriculum development is a fluid, never-ending process, and although we have made positive strides in many areas, we also have a lot of work ahead of us. Our dedicated administrators, teachers, and staff continue to embrace the challenges so that we can provide the best education possible for our wonderful students. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me should you have any questions or concerns.
Lori A. Mulford, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, & Pupil Personnel Services