Home Written work 80% of Stamford core classes have no written curriculum

80% of Stamford core classes have no written curriculum

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STAMFORD – Four out of five compulsory courses at Stamford public schools – English, math, science or social history – have no written curriculum, according to the findings of a year-long audit.

Senior auditor Jeffrey Tuneberg of CMSi said auditors expect 100% of core courses to have a corresponding written syllabus.

But after reviewing 352 documents, visiting 317 classrooms and interviewing 234 staff, administrators and school board members, auditors found the program was lacking. Only 20% of secondary school classes have a written curriculum. The figure for middle schools was 15% and for elementary schools, 21%.

“What we found is that the written curriculum is very limited overall and in some areas it was non-existent,” Tuneberg said.

“If teachers are going to teach it, the curriculum has to be written somewhere and it can’t just be a state standard or something we buy from outside,” he said. told educators Tuesday night. “It has to be something that bears the Stamford stamp of approval.”

Amy Beldotti, associate superintendent for teaching and learning, said the district has already made changes based on the audit findings, including resurrecting curriculum committees, which have been put in place. in place in the past but have not been used for many years, she said.

“We have a lot more written programs in place,” she said. “The good news is that we have committees ready to go and they will continue the work.”

The findings of the audit, which began in August last year, were presented at a meeting of the Stamford Board of Education’s Teaching, Learning and Community Committee. The auditors wrote an approximately 300-page report of the findings, along with recommendations to the district. The audit was a district-wide review of Stamford Schools and does not present school-specific data or comparisons between different buildings.

One of the findings was that Stamford’s curriculum policy is “woefully outdated,” Tuneberg said, because it hasn’t been updated since 2009 and doesn’t appear to be used regularly.

“What we found in talking to people is that it’s just not used, at least not used consistently across the district,” Tuneberg said, adding that many interviewees for the audit were unaware of the existence of the policy.

Additionally, many job postings do not appear to be related to the district curriculum.

“Everyone should have a connection to the primary mission of the school, not just the function of their job,” he said.

The audit also found that classrooms are not periodically observed by administrators consistently across the district, and that Stamford as a school system does not adopt any instructional model. Listeners observed different styles in the classrooms, ranging from the traditional lecture setup in some classes to student-centered teaching in others that relies more on student participation.

Tuneberg said very few classes employed small group or project-based learning in the rooms observed.

Another finding was that the district appeared to have no plan for using student assessment data.

“We expect some type of district-monitored assessment to be in place to interpret results to see if students are learning what we expect of them based on the written curriculum,” Tuneberg said. “Well, since you have very little written curriculum, you really don’t have any assessments because there’s no written curriculum to go with it.”

He said some of that work is done inside individual school buildings, but not district-wide.

While the audit uncovered some of the district’s shortcomings, it also highlighted some positives.

“SPS outperforms other demographically similar districts on state assessments and far exceeds these districts on assessment results for high-risk students,” the report said.

The audit includes a list of six recommendations. One is to update the district’s curriculum policy and create district-wide consistency in terms of what is taught in classrooms. Another recommendation is to develop a district-wide evaluation program to better assess the effectiveness of the curriculum.

“These are not quick fixes…it’s hard work that needs to be done,” Tuneberg said, estimating it would take three to five years to implement the changes, let alone institutionalize them. .

Council members especially praised the work of the auditors in bringing to light the shortcomings of the district.

Member Andy George expressed concern that some parents feel there are too many assessments given to students and that teachers often teach until the test.

Tuneberg agreed that too many tests were undesirable, but said there are many ways to monitor student performance and that assessments can be useful if used correctly and consistently.

“The problem is not that we have more tests, but that we coordinate the tests that we give,” he said. “A teacher may take a classroom test at the end of a unit in her fourth-grade math class that doesn’t reflect what is happening somewhere in a fourth-grade teacher’s math class. It doesn’t there’s no consistency and there’s no coordination.”

He added: “With no written curriculum and no formalized assessment program in the district, it’s really like the Wild, Wild West, everyone does their own thing and it’s a group of people. independent agents working in a school district calling you a public school.

Jackie Heftman, the only current member who served on the board in 2009 when the program policy was adopted, expressed dismay at the policy which appears to have received little attention.

“Now, 13 years later, we understand that a lot of things never happened and so from a board perspective… what do we need to do to make sure the multitude of work that needs to happen does happen so that 13 years from now, we don’t look back and say, ‘Oh, that was awesome and it went off the shelf and nobody ever did it,'” he said. she stated.