Manhasset to roll out new elementary reading curriculum, testing

Amelia Camurati
District Coordinator of English Language Arts Rebecca Chowske said the elementary schools will be rolling out a new English and language arts curriculum beginning this fall. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

The Manhasset elementary students and parents will see a change to the schools’ English and reading curriculum over the next four years.

District Coordinator of English Language Arts Rebecca Chowske said Thursday at the Manhasset Board of Education meeting that the change is to bring consistency across the classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade and give teachers real-time data about what skills students have mastered and which students are struggling.

For the sixth grade, Chowske said the goal is to focus on skill alignment as the students prepare for middle school and the district is looking into programs for the oldest elementary students.

“I am excited that we are embracing this program. I think it’s fantastic,” Trustee Carlo Prinzo, a former English teacher, said. “We’re all in on the science stuff and we’re all in on the math stuff, but nobody wants to read a book.”

Chowske said the district will be adopting the Columbia University Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project curriculum next year in one kindergarten and one first grade classroom at both Munsey Park Elementary School and Shelter Rock Elementary School.

In 2019-20, all kindergarten and first grade classrooms will adopt the curriculum and one second grade and one third grade teacher in each school will roll out the plan.

Each participating classroom will receive a 600-book classroom library with books on a range of topics for all interests and all reading levels for that age group, transforming the classroom into a “literature-rich environment,” Leone said.

The district will also move to computer-based adaptive assessments through Northwest Evaluation Association based in Portland, Oregon, which is currently used in more than 3,400 districts across all 50 states.

Charles Leone, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the assessment, which will be given three times a year and will last about 45 minutes, will be done on the computer and will adapt the questions for each student as it progresses.

“You answer a question, and if you get it correct, you go to the next level,” Leone said. “If you get the next one wrong, they give you another question on that level. If you get it wrong again, they bring the next question down a level. It’s really showing your own level of understanding so that frustration level isn’t necessarily there like a typical test.”

Chowske said the district’s current benchmark testing for English and language arts is more time-consuming and gives teachers less time for instruction.

The test also will give teachers and parents specific information about each student soon after the test so some students can get special assistance and others who are more advanced can be accommodated.

“It doesn’t impact grades. It doesn’t impact outcomes.” Chowske said. “What it does is it informs the instruction, and I think that’s the most important point. This is not about testing kids to label them; it’s about supporting kids in the classroom.”

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