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Student Learning a Priority for Montville Schools This Year

Superintendent presents goals to board of education, including closer look at class rankings and emphasis on mathematics curriculum.

Montville Township Public Schools will place student learning as the highest priority of the year as Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried presented the district's goals to the board of education on Tuesday.

The district develops a set of goals annually, breaking each one down for examination and study before implementation of new tactics designed for their achievement. Last year, one of the district goals was to improve homework's effectiveness by examining how it is given to students. Homework was discussed in a townhall-style meeting, a taskforce was developed to form recommendations and students already had a homework-free day this year.

Fried said the implementation of the suggestions made by the homework taskforce were "not without a glitch," but that the district will continue working to improve homework for all students.

This year, Fried said a similar taskforce will be formed to examine the school district's culture, focusing on class rankings. A townhall meeting will be held and invite parents to speak on the subject before recommendations are made and implemented by the board of education.

"I think this is going to be an interesting conversation," Fried said.

Also related to the culture of the district, Fried said an advisor will spearhead an effort to look at why interest in the district's music program seems to "drop off, in part, at the high school level," according to Fried. Fried said interest levels in arts courses will also be examined and whether low interest levels are a reflection of general cultural changes.

In terms of curriculum, Fried said the district will continue to strengthen educational offerings based on common core standards.

"Math is the area that we'd like to focus on with new common core standards," Fried said.

World language programs will also be enhanced as the school district plans to have every student in the sixth and seventh grade taking one of the four offered language courses. By the time students complete the eighth grade, they will have had a full year of the language course and ninth grade first-level language courses will be identical to eighth grade first-level courses so that if eighth graders already took the first year, they can move on to the second level in high school.

The school has already begun using the Rosetta Stone world language program, that has students learning the languages through a computer-based program. On Dec. 16, parents will have an opportunity to learn more about the program and how the district is using it during a special meeting.

Fried said the district is hoping to continue the Science Research Program first started this year as well.

Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino said the conversation about the district's goals was pleasing to hear.

"It's really great to talk about learning," she said.

Maxim Sapozhnikov November 26, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Kudos to Dr. Fried for understanding the importance of math to the curriculum. Hopefully, this conclusion will lead to increase of math instruction hours. I would also welcome introduction of different math study levels at as early a stage as elementary school. It is inconceivable to teach everyone equally while some children struggle with basic concepts and others are yawning through the class. As teaching math on elementary-school level does not generally require special skills (outside of regular teaching qualifications), I believe that the district's schools are adequately staffed for such differentiation. As for art and music, they should be offered solely to those who choose to opt in, at the expense of deeper immersion in core-curriculum disciplines. Public schools are not adequately staffed, equipped, and financed to develop true artistic taste in children, and basic introduction can and should be left to the parents. Students should not be graded for what is, unlike math and hard science, a matter of personal taste.
Louise November 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Max, I respectfully disagree about differentiation at the grade school levels for math. Girls mature faster and generally put in more effort at the lower grades than boys do. It would not be fair to classify these kids at such an early age. As the younger sister of a brother who was not a good student really until he got to college, grew up, and graduated at the top of his class, I have to disagree.
Louise November 26, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Besides aren't the kids who struggle being pulled out of class for "Basic Skills" already?
anonymous November 26, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Glad to see class rank issue on the table again; the last time I brought it up, Principal Kramer threw me out of his office saying, "I will not initiate a discussion on this brought up by a parent"
Jaclyn C. November 27, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Hi Louise, Differentiation should always take place within the classroom. With 20+ students, it is not possible to have each child learning at the same pace, nor do they all learn best with one type of learning style. Differentiation does not mean separating children according to test scores and performance level, it means having the teacher scaffold each lesson so that ALL students can learn the same skill or concept in a meaningful, "leveled" way. Hope this explanation helps :)

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