October 17, 2013
Changes to Common Core
2012-13 marked the first school year that state test scores and teacher evaluations were tied to the new Common Core Learning Standards. Last year was also the first that BKW starting using curriculum based on the Common Core and this year teachers will begin using Common Core modules that were developed by New York State. [You can learn about the Common Core on BKW's Academics page and at engageny.org]
This school year, expect to find even more changes to academics all around BKW. At the Secondary School, the faculty are employing a number of different ways to enrich student learning and help students adjust to the new curriculum materials. One way they are doing this is through the use of periodic assessments.
Assessing growth in learning
The new assessments being used by BKW Secondary School teachers are not in any standard form, "some may be portfolio style, some based on written testing and some based on the use of past Regents exams as an example," said Secondary School Principal Brian Corey. "It all depends on what the class is about, what lesson they are learning at the moment and what the goal of the class is."
The periodic assessments happen on a 10-week cycle and started at the beginning of the school year. At the beginning of this year, the teachers gave students a baseline assessment in order to gauge what they knew about the material before lessons took place. The next two months are then spent teaching material to the students. In the ninth week, teachers then re-assess, or do a benchmark assessment, of what the students now understand about the topic after two months of instruction. The rest of the next two weeks are used to re-teach items of the lesson to those who need further help and to offer enrichment activities to deepen the knowledge for those students who have met proficiency in the lessons.
Implementing new technology
Another change in instruction at BKW Secondary School is the implementation of more technology into the classrooms. The district is in the process of rolling out 90 iPads to classes in the secondary school, beginning with the science department and primarily with ninth grade classrooms. Another added feature to classrooms will be through the use of Elmo document readers, which allow materials to be projected on the white boards in classrooms and make it easier for teachers to use a variety of materials for instruction.
These changes to instruction around the secondary school should result in students having a deeper understanding of the curriculum and an easier transition from grade to grade.