Strategies for Improving Learning in Perth Amboy Public Schools
In order to improve learning, we must address curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Curriculum is what we teach, instruction is how we teach it, and assessment is how we measure our results. We are addressing each of these areas through the following strategies:
We are aligning our curriculum to the Common Core State Standards, which will become the requirement in NJ in the next couple of years. We now recognize that curriculum development is never done; it is a continual process that happens through teachers and teacher teams. We also recognize that teachers benefit from collaboration and sharing their work. In order to develop our skills, we are engaging Curriculum 21to work with our administrators and newly selected Educational Leaders on Common Core alignment and curriculum “mapping.” These educators will then work with teacher teams, organized into professional learning communities, in their buildings to improve curriculum development capacity in every school. In order to facilitate collaboration, we will be using the Atlas Rubicon software program to share our work across the district, and provide a user-friendly way to analyze the skills that are included across grade levels, schools, subject areas, and the district as a whole.
Students learn best when they are actively engaged in tasks that include critical thinking skills, and academic discourse with one another. These two areas are at the heart of Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, and included in domains 3B and 3C. Our administrators (through participation in three professional learning communities) are now learning how to facilitate “instructional rounds” in their schools, allowing teachers to work together to improve their skills in student engagement and discourse. Building administrators will work with their professional learning communities so that every educator in our district will understand the instructional rounds process and be able to give and receive valuable feedback regarding instruction.
We are partnering with Quantum Learning to assist us in creating the highest possible levels of expectations and engagement with students. This approach not only improves instruction, but also creates a common language around achievement and behavior, and develops positive character traits in students.
We know that teachers need frequent information that can be used to guide instruction. To that end, each school is working together with Cambridge Education to develop common assessments that will help teachers understand how well students are learning in their classes. These assessments will reduce the amount of instructional time dedicated to testing, reduce administrative work for teachers, while providing them with more timely, actionable data.