WALLINGFORD — School department leaders presented their improvement plans at a Board of Education Instructional Committee meeting this week.
They represented the mathematics department, the science and technology department, the career and technical education department, the wellness department and adult education.Mathematics
Test scores show more students scoring at or above grade level in math, including a decrease in the number of students scoring below grade level, according to Christie Madancy, mathematics coordinator. The data came from the fall to winter screening. Fall screening takes place at the end of September and winter screening takes place in January.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do to accelerate the growth in the area of mathematics,” Madancy said.
This year, the district started using online assessement and instruction program i-Ready as the screener, along with utilizing consistent professional learning, Madancy said.
“We’re really trying to focus on student engagement,” Madancy said. “Are we using good tasks that are going to engage students in real relevant mathematics, grade-level mathematics and are we aligned to the high leverage concepts of the grade level?”
Madancy added that this type of teaching takes time and practice.
“We’ve seen some consistent approaches to what our instructional leader is doing at the high school with the similar work that our middle school coaches have been doing for the last two years and we’ve also been doing it now at the K-5 level for the past two years,” Madancy said.
For next steps, Madancy said the department is currently in the review and revision process for kindergarten, grade 2 and algebra 1 courses. Along with that, the department is developing a new high school course that the Board of Education recently approved, which is Geometry in Construction.
“We are continuing to focus on these instructional practices through all of our professional learning, through all of our coaching opportunities in the classroom with our coaches and our instructional leader and making sure that all administrators are on the same page with what we’re looking for and the feedback that we are providing to teachers, so that we’re all moving in the same direction,” Madancy said. Science and technology
For kindergarten through fifth grade, Dan Wostbrock, science and technology curriculum coordinator, said the teachers’ focus has been working on creating opportunities for students to engage with science through hands-on activities.
At the middle school level, Wostbrock said teachers use storylines during their classroom instruction, which helps students connect “components that might seem to be unrelated into a cohesive story.”
Lastly, for high school science classes, teachers focus on embedding science and engineering practices into the classroom.
Wostbrock said the next steps for the science and technology department are continuing to embed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) interim assessments into the classroom instruction, while revising biology, earth science, physics and chemistry courses.
“As we’re revising these courses, we’re putting them into the 5 E model, which aligns very nicely to NGSS based learning,” Wostbrock said.
“The 5 E model is engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate and the beginning part of the 5 E model is what I discussed with the heavy activities where students are able to learn by doing and then being able to revise their thinking as time goes on,” he added. Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Dave Ullman is the curriculum coordinator for CTE and started in this position in July. He said during his presentation that he wanted to start off by sharing the vision for CTE.
“Being able to provide them situations where they are given some kind of problem being in a wood shop or in an architectural lab or in a business class, an economy class, getting them together in different groupings, having them communicate their ideas with each other and other groups and then facing a dilemma that requires them to really think it through and sometimes painfully so,” Ullman said. “We feel like these are skills that really will help them in the future.”
Ullman reminded the board that the CTE department offers a variety of courses focusing on hospitality, business, health care, computer science and engineering/manufacturing.
When Ullman started in July, he saw that the enrollment this year dipped from the previous school year, which hasn’t happened in six years. So, he worked on marketing the department through pamphlets, videos and speaking at open houses.
Going forward, Ullman said he hopes to continue to brand CTE, revising and consolidating curriculum and bridging the gap between CTE and computer science curriculum across the various school levels.
“So it’s a continuum of education, so as we feel better and more prepared in our own areas, we can start reaching across the lines and between the middle and the high schools and with computer science. It’s a Pre-K through 12 program, so we are spending some time looking at that continuum,” Ullman said. Wellness
Tony Loomis, wellness curriculum coordinator, shared that movement is beneficial for student success.
“That time in physical education is extremely valuable,” Loomis said. “The students are moving and it’s preparing their brains for what they are going to do in the classrooms and helping them out and helping them perform better in the classrooms.”
Right now, Loomis said the district is making a shift to a skills-based health model, while elementary physical education teachers are creating an at-home fitness club to encourage students to be active outside of school.
“Which is extremely important and directly aligned and tied to our overall goals of having lifelong movers, so it is going to be exciting to see the data that comes back and how many kids were active outside of school at the elementary level,” Loomis said.
Along with that, Loomis is working on administering the health survey at both the middle school and high school levels. At the high school level, he said the district will administer the survey in mid-March, while the middle school one will be administered in April.
For the high schools, a focus is also on substance abuse prevention and treatment. This will be through training staff members on recognizing and handling substance abuse-related situations.
“We are preparing some presentations for the students themselves and also the parents,” Loomis said.
“That’s in anticipation of our health surveys, in preparation for the results that come out and also to address what we know is happening right now,” he added. Adult Education
Anthony Mangiafico, director of the adult education department, said that in the 2021-22 school year, there were 119 students in adult education. As of Feb. 6, Mangiafico said there are 118 students in the program this year.
“We’re going to surpass (last year’s data) within the next week or so and one of my goals was a five percent increase in enrollment, so we’re going to be above that,” Mangiafico said.
English as a second language (ESL) students is the largest group in adult education and there will be a new Friday workforce class for these students.
Mangiafico said offering more programming on Fridays has been one of his goals, so along with the workforce class, adult education is offering a family literacy class.
For ESL and GED classes, Mangiafico was able to extend class times for students and teachers.
“That was the number one concern that both staff and students expressed to me when I was talking to them that they just didn’t have enough time in the building, so we were able to add anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to each GED class in the morning and the evening and the same thing for our ESL classes,” Mangiafico said.