CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – State-mandated curriculum shifts have been time-consuming and costly for the Lakeland Central School District, but Schools Superintendent George Stone said there is silver lining to the new requirements.
“We’re really raising the bar in terms of observable instructional practices,” Stone said at a Dec. 6 Board of Education meeting. “I think both sides agree that this new design of observation, which moves us away from yes or no, to good, better, and best, is really going to make a difference in terms of instruction.”
Much of the curriculum changes revolve around a focus on literacy skills and differentiation, which means teachers take diverse student factors into account when teaching.
“Just creating discussions about quality teaching and what it looks like and how do you actually observe and measure engagement of students, it’s just phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that,” Stone said.
Students will also read more of a balance of fiction and nonfiction, as informational reading is necessary for college and career readiness. The state is also looking to make vocabulary more consistent throughout all subject areas.
The improved curriculum does not come without significant costs to the district, however. The district pays significant fees for a data management system, filing test results, and training and re-training administrators every year.
“Paying for this is another story,” Stone said. “This program, again, which is mandated and required, will be in the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars that we have to pay to maintain.”
Time will tell if the curriculum outweighs the cost, but Stone said he has so far been encouraged with the results.
“There is a positive to this,” he said. “And I had my doubt about trying to implement a new rubric, but I think we’re on the right track with that piece of it.”
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