Curriculum and Instruction
PCSST curriculums have been aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards(NJSLS). Using the new Curricular Frameworks for Math and Language Arts, teachers and administrators have been working collaboratively during PLCs on updating curriculum to include the NJ revised standards for Math and Language Arts that will begin implementing in September 2017. The PCSST Science curriculum has also been revised to fully correlate with Next Generation Science Standards in all grades K-12. Additionally, curricular revisions were made in all content areas during PLCs to address standards that have been modified or adopted or to place more emphasis on skills that students need the most. Cross grade(k-12) vertical articulation meetings have taken place to discuss vertical alignment of knowledge and skills that need more focus across all grades.
PCSST uses a variety of assessment data to identify gaps in attainment of the standards. PARCC assessment data will show how well our students are meeting the knowledge and skills expected of them at the their grade level and it will also provide information to teachers regarding where students need help and where they are excelling so that teachers can differentiate instruction to meet their needs. STAR assessments from Renaissance Learning and teacher created assessments have also been used as routine benchmark tests to track the progress of students toward achievement of the standards. This data is used to adjust the curriculum and instructional program to address gaps. The secondary school has shifted to a Standards Based Grading system which clearly identifies the standards assessed in each grade level and tracks the implementation of standards in all content areas.
At PCSST we believe that every child has the right to a high-quality instruction and should graduate prepared for college and career. There are numerous educational and instructional practices that constitute high quality instruction at PCSST. PCSST adheres to the Dr. Harry Wong philosophy for creation of classroom structures and teaching of routines to establish positive classroom management. PCSST curriculum, instruction, and assessments are connected to NJ Students Learning Standards. We have standards based curriculum for all courses, and teachers align their instruction and assessments to the standards. In the early elementary grades teachers focus on providing high quality reading instruction including phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, vocabulary instruction, and reading comprehension and writing strategies to equip students with the reading and writing foundation skills they need to become lifelong successful learners. Differentiation is essential to providing our students with a high quality of instruction. We expect all teachers at PCSST to differentiate their instruction in order to meet the needs of our diverse student body. We will be providing our teachers with formal training on Universal Design for Learning in the fall in order to ensure that a multi-tiered support system is in place for all of our students.
PCSST uses the Marzano Causal framework to define High Quality Instruction. Based on The Art and Science of Teaching, this system is used during classroom observations to judge the quality of instruction. Using a four-point rubric, teachers are scored on four domains; standards based planning, standards based instruction, conditions for learning, and professional responsibilities. All teachers are rated in each domain in order to determine their end of the year summative score. Working with the ScIP and the DEAC a formula was developed to give a weight to each Domain score to parallel the state requirements for teacher evaluation. Combined with SGo and MsGP scores, if applicable, the teacher receives a summative rating that is reported to NJSMART. Student growth remains the leading indicator of high quality instruction. Teacher SGO’s are derived from a combination of teacher made standards based assessments and benchmarks in order to measure student growth throughout the year.
Teachers are trained in development of rigorous and relevant objectives based on the unpacking of standards into specific Student Learning Objectives. The daily objective is posted, reviewed, and discussed with students at the beginning of each lesson. Most teachers use the I Do, We Do, You Do structure for classroom instruction which includes whole group instruction and modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. Teachers differentiate by content, process, and product through use of various differentiation methods including guided reading, learning centers, cooperative learning, small group instruction, and tiered assignments and assessments. Using formative assessments and rubrics to guide instruction and provide feedback is a common practice across all grades. In addition, special education teachers and general education teachers use a variety of co-teaching models to enhance student outcomes.