YORKTOWN, N.Y. – State-mandated curriculum shifts have caused a fair share of headaches for the Yorktown Central School District, but school officials said the changes aren’t all bad. In fact, some are quite good.
“It’s really the best of times and the worst of times,” said Superintendent Ralph Napolitano. “What makes this time so interesting is that discussion about instruction, discussion about assessment, discussion about differentiation has really been brought to a higher level. There’s a tremendous amount of conversation about getting better at what we do.”
Much of curriculum changes revolve around a focus on literacy skills. Deputy Superintendent Florence O’Connor said students will begin to read more of a balance of fiction and nonfiction, as informational reading is necessary for college and career readiness. O’Connor said the State is also looking to make vocabulary more consistent throughout all subject areas.
“New York State curriculum has been criticized over many years for what’s being called a mile wide and an inch deep,” she said. “The focus now is to really to begin to be able to read novels and information pieces as well and to do what’s called deep reading.”
Napolitano said Yorktown read the tea leaves and began preparing for the curriculum changes more than a year in advance. Despite the preparedness of the district, Napolitano said the state’s timeline of instituting the changes for the 2012-13 school year was still very tight.
“We’ve probably been working double time and triple time to get things done in the time that’s being requested,” he said. “Everybody’s racing against the clock because there are timelines to get these in by. I don’t know if I agree with that kind of pressure.”
2012-13 will also be the first year the district uses pre and post-assessment exams to measure how much students grow in particular subjects of the course of the year.