June 20, 2011

Mathematics, communication arts curriculum revised

School Board members approved K-12 mathematics and 6-12 communication arts curriculum revisions that align with new Common Core State Standards designed to be robust, relevant and reflective of skills students will need for success in college and careers.

The mathematics curriculum for students in grades K-5 provides a foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction multiplication, division, fractions and decimals. The intent of the curriculum, according to interim Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., is to apply the concepts to real-world, authentic situations.

Elementary schools will continue to use the Everyday Math program. Since its adoption, the district seen mathematic achievement gains on state standardized tests. At an earlier meeting, School Board members approved purchase of the newest version of the Everyday Math textbook. Fifth grade students who are ready for acceleration will be provided sixth grade Everyday Math experiences.

The goal at the middle school is to provide a rich preparation for algebra and advanced mathematics courses. Ultimately, the district expects that more students will be ready for algebra in eighth grade.

  • Sixth grade has moved from Everyday Math to transitions math. While all sixth grade teachers are experienced with Everyday Math, they will use a traditional mathematics textbook and integrate Everyday Math strategies.
  • Seventh grade will emphasize algebra preparation;
  • Eighth grade Algebra concepts will incorporate pre-algebra in the first half of the traditional course and prepare students for more abstract high school concepts.

The communication arts curriculum for students in grades 6-12 includes reading, writing, speaking, listening and language usage. Each grade level uses developmentally appropriate literature and nonfiction resources to study personal narrative, creative writing, expository writing, persuasive writing or literary narrative. Grammar is emphasized at all grade levels.

 Little noted that the level of complexity in synthesis and analysis increases significantly as students move through grade levels and courses.

 Mathematics and communication arts curriculums outline the specific learning targets and student “I Can” statements that help students understand what they should know and be able to do. School Board members Deborah Briggs said she was impressed that teachers actually put the “I Can” statements on the board.

 “I think it is great that as students are going along and learning, they see how it ties into the common core standards,” Briggs said.

 Little said that students appreciate knowing what they should know and now often ask teachers for them if they don’t see them.

 Both the mathematics and communication arts revised curriculums were a collaborative effort of members of the curriculum committee as well as almost every teacher in the subject areas, Little said.

 “They are proud of their work, and we are proud of their work,” she said.

 District studies supervision-evaluation models revisions

As federal and state officials study new supervision-evaluation models, the Hamilton School District is looking to pilot and implement a new process that emphasizes best practices in instruction

 Educational Services and Human Resources Director John Roubik provided an update on the status of the supervision-evaluation process. Roubik said the district’s goal is to focus not just on student achievement, but overall best practices in teaching. He said compensation tied to student achievement likely will be part of both federal and state proposals. The district has joined with other school districts that may create regional recommendations for a new model. The district’s goal is to pilot and adopt a model that can be implemented in 2012.

Other business

In other business, the School Board

  • accepted the low bid from Mapleton Dairy which is the district’s current dairy provider;
  • approved minor recommended handbook revisions for elementary, middle and high school, National Honor Society, extra-cocurricular activities and special education procedures;
  • approved continued membership in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association;
  • approved revised policies and procedures for emergency nursing services and bloodborne pathogens;
  • authorized continued participation in Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) alternative schools and a contract for CESA collaborative services for 2011-12; and
  • gave Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., authorization to participate in CESA consortium grants in 2011-12.

 Personnel business

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • laid off Marcy paraprofessionals Kristyn Brandt and Corina Lawrence, who had been hired earlier in the year for specific enrollment and student needs;
  • appointed Michael Tennessen as a part-time Hamilton French teacher, Corey Schoonover as a Woodside special education teacher, Ryan Grusenski as a Hamilton part-time German teacher, Jennifer Callan as a Templeton seventh grade teacher, Kristen Hartenberger as a Templeton sixth grade teacher, Steffanie Benitez as a Templeton Spanish teacher, Sarah Zboralski as a Templeton special education teacher and Andrea Green as a Hamilton Spanish teacher;
  • modified the contract of Jennifer Luszak who will go from full-time to a 60 percent contract. The other 40 percent of the position will be posted;
  • approved approximately two percent increases in the per diem pay for the summer school paraprofessional, substitute secretary and administrative assistant. The other 15 positions paid on a per diem basis were kept at the same pay level.