Written by Emily Cappiello Thursday, 21 November 2013 00:00
The newly-implemented Common Core learning system has raised issues across Long Island and New York State, however, the Levittown Board of Education has chosen to take a stand against the new system.
“Resolved, that Levittown Public Schools calls upon U.S. Congress and the Administration, to reduce federal testing mandates and support the role of and focus on multiple measures of student learning and school quality in accountability systems,” read Dr. James Grossane, superintendent of schools.
At the meeting, parents came out in droves to protest against the Common Core as well as inBloom, a company that hosts student data on a cloud server.
Vicky Sanchez, the mother of a third grader, said that she is a district manager for Starbucks and is responsible for more than $20 million per year, but yet she struggles to help her child do homework.
“I can’t help my kids with their homework and that’s a problem. Everything attached to the Common Core is not helping our students. The Common Core is not only hard for a 40 year old to understand, but what about our special education students? This is really making learning difficult,” she said.
Sanchez also added that she doesn’t feel that students’ test scores should count against teachers. “My child’s teachers are bending over backwards. It is wrong that his grade would count against them. When is someone going to step up even higher as a leader?” she asked the board.
When asked about inBloom by an audience member, Grossane said that the district is required to send 400 pieces of data on every child to Albany, however, the district does not give any more information than what is required. “We send what is required by New York State and nothing else,” he said.
“By the time my child is an adult, everything about him is going to be on the Internet,” Sanchez said. “I don’t want his data shared.”
Grossane also presented a state of Levittown schools and explained that he asked his teachers to go deeper when evaluating what’s working and where students need more attention in the schools. Each principal has been briefed on the findings and an overall building plan is in place to put a focus on all of the areas that need improvement.
“We need to work on our own district and what we need to do in our own schools in our own classrooms,” he said. “We asked teachers to drill down and do more with each child specifically and use strategies to find out what their students didn’t do well on and how they can instruct the students differently this year,” Grossane added.
In the past year, Grossane said that Levittown skyrocketed from 35th in the state in third grade math based on testing to 25th in the state. However, there is still work to be done. On the elementary level, the schools will focus on phonemic awareness, determining the central theme/idea, integrating information from multiple texts and using evidence to support point of view in English and will work on operations with decimals, multi-step word problems, area of geometric figures and comparing fractions in math. At the middle-school level, the English focus will be on citing textual evidence, determine the central theme, evaluating an argument and determining the meaning of words and phrases, while the
Math focus will be on expressions and equations, area in 3D figures, word problems, statistics and functions. In the high school, student engagement and effective questioning are the two main issues in science; contextual clues, indirect characterization, author’s style and poetry will be the primary focus in English and Math will see an increase of emphasis on word problems with real world applications, alternative methods to solve problems and use of visual aids. Grossane explained that social studies was not put on the list because the district excels in the subject.
Goals for the year include increasing mastery level by five percent and improving Regents exam scores for those tests that are lower than the Nassau County average by five percent.