The West Hempstead school district is stepping up efforts to improvement student achievement as it embraces the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that schools across New York must implement by 2014.
The standards, which most states have adopted, were developed in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and Mathematics, to ensure all students are consistently receiving a high-quality education that prepares them for college and the workforce.
Kathleen O’Farrell, director of the district's English department, delivered a presentation at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting to explain how West Hempstead prepares to follow the new Common Core Standards.
“One of the key aspects to accomplishing these goals is calibration,” stated O’Farrell.
There are six shifts that have taken place within the department. Teachers will have to now provide students with a balance of informational and literacy text to read. Students will be expected to show they have an in-depth knowledge of the readings they are assigned by writing persuasive essays. They'll be assessed on their abilities to use what they read to validate the arguments in their writing. The goal is not only improve their reading comprehension and writing, but also their academic vocabulary.
Starting in kindergarten and following through Grade 12, students will begin learning phonics and spelling, which will become more challenging as they progress. Consider it a “staircase to complexity,” O'Farrell said, adding that each grade is a step to the top, which is becoming a student who is prepared for college.
O'Farrell also explained that the West Hempstead school district has been utilizing online programs such as Castle Learning, Study Island, Reading Eggs, and Discovery, which allow teachers to assign homework and lessons that will help students improve their English skills. These programs have had a positive impact on the students, she said, noting that there has been an increase in the amount of students passing the English Regents Exam.
She concluded her presentation by saying the English department’s goal is to close the achievement gap, go more in-depth with reading and increase SAT scores.
Moving on from English to nutrition, the board also took some time during the Feb. 14 to hear how the Wellness Committee has been making improvements to the schools cafeteria-offerings. When members of the committee recently visited the district's different cafeterias they noticed what foods students were and were not eating - often favoring less healthy options over the more nutritious alternatives offered. The committee would like to revamp the lunch menu but do so by getting students involved to ensure they will eat the food that will be served.
The committee is also seeking to improve communication with parents about low or negative balances on food cards. They are developing programs that would notify parents via email if there is a negative balance or a balance of $5 or less on their child's card.
Superintendent John Hogan also told the parents that attended the meeting that Nassau BOCES notified the district that they would be leaving the Eagle Avenue School building when their contract ends in June 2013. Click here for the full story.
“This can open a new opportunity for the school district,” Hogan said.
Parents were also reminded of the following upcoming events throughout the district.
- West Hempstead Celebration: April 22
- Family Literacy Night: March 22
Stay with Patch for more coverage of the West Hempstead school district.