Glen Cove Discusses Middle School Curriculum Changes

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Curriculum changes at the middle school have been in the works for the past six months, a topic that has held interest for parents, teachers and students who are both for and against the proposed changes. Dr. Michael Israel, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology, gave a presentation to the Glen Cove Board of Education at a recent meeting to update the community on what’s being planned.

The program, Expanding Opportunities for All, is the result of several discussions that have taken place since last fall. Israel said that, in an effort to more effectively comply with the New York State Education Department regulation that states “public school students in grade eight shall have the opportunity to take high school courses,” the district began a discussion centered on its honors program.

Israel said that since 2013, Finley Middle School faculty have had multiple discussions about the effectiveness of the honors program. In that time changes were made to the sixth-grade program and they found that a limited number of eighth-grade students took algebra Regents and earth science Regents and some students had been denied admission to the honors classes based on criteria. In 2014-15, the district implemented a curriculum revision of the seventh-grade math honors classes and a meeting was held in September with seventh-grade teachers to get their recommendations regarding placement of new students.

Israel said they reached out to other Long Island school districts to find out if and how they organize an honors program in middle school and what criteria they follow for admission to Regents level courses in eighth-grade math and science.

Presentations at public school board meetings began in December and Israel said he has met individually with various teachers and held meetings with parents. The middle school administration met with teachers to establish a process for “self-select” that includes informational meetings, the submission of course request forms by parents, which were reviewed by teachers who provided input and recommendations. Now, students are being scheduled into the accelerated courses in math and science in seventh and eighth grades.

In April, the administration gave a presentation on differentiation, demonstrating how Glen Cove teachers differentiate to meet the needs of their students in heterogeneous classrooms. They presented research on differentiation and the benefits of de-tracking, including research on “mis-tracked students,” indicating that average achievers (C+ students) were misplaced into the course for the low achievers and their chance of completing the college-preparatory courses was 2 percent.

“However, if they were placed in a course designed for average achievers, their chance of completion rose to 23 percent,” said Israel. “If they had been misplaced into the high-track course, their chance of completing rose dramatically to 91 percent.”

He said that social studies and ELA teachers will differentiate to meet the needs of students and texts will be aligned to Lexile levels. Based on the work of ELA Alignment Committee, changes are being made to the ELA instructional model.

“The new model will have teachers move toward reading independent texts and utilize Anchor Texts to ensure that learning standards are achieved,” said Israel.

At this point in time, accelerated course offerings include pre-algebra for seventh grade, Regents algebra and Regents earth science for eighth-graders and humanities and research courses for all three grades.

Further enhancements include new affiliation with Virtual Enterprise Junior Ventures Career Academy, an iPad initiative beginning in sixth grade and additional iPadcarts will be added to each of the seventh- and eighth-grade teams.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the hiring of an interim principal at Deasy Elementary School to replace current principal Ken Craft, who submitted his resignation last month and will leave at the end of this month.

The next board of education meeting will be on Monday, June 20, at 7:30  p.m. at the middle school.

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