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.