New Social Studies Curriculum for K-8 Presented at West Orange Board of Education Meeting
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 • 2:37am
WEST ORANGE, NJ - District Social Studies Supervisors Eric Price (K-5) and Mark Lawrence (6-12) presented the new curriculum voted on by the West Orange Board of Education at the May 20 meeting, and Hazel parents expressed gratitude over the decision to keep Principal Ed Acevedo at Hazel for at least another year.
Price provided an overview of the process involved in the selection of the new Social Studies curriculum for Grades K-8. It was:
- Curriculum needed to meet current core curriculum standards;
- Curriculum needed to include comprehensive content on civics, geography, history, economics, social sciences, and Amistad (diversity);
- Curriculum must provide for staff development;
- Curriculum must be user-friendly and available online;
- Curriculum must help to develop and ensure critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills.
For K-5, two programs were selected to pilot: Pearson's My World and TCI's History Alive. Pilot classes used My World or History Alive for half of the school year and they switched to the other program for the second half. For K-5, teachers overwhelmingly agreed that My World met the criteria and needs of the West Orange School district students. That program will cost approximately $242,000 and will include all materials and yearly updates for 7 years.
For the central sixth, teachers tested TCI and Houghton-Mifflin curriculums. Teachers preferred TCI over Houghton-Mifflin for sixth-graders, citing superior text enhancements. The cost for TCI will be approximately $36,000 and will include updates for six years.
For grades 7 and 8, teachers overwhelmingly preferred the Houghton-Mifflin curriculum, which will cost the district approximately $29,000 for Grade 7 and $31,000 for Grade 8 over the next six years, with six years of updates.
The total cost of the newly approved curriculums will be $338,857.
Interim Superintendent Jim O'Neill reminded residents of the August 20 Mock Shooter Drill at Liberty Middle School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A representative from the Edison Parents Coalition was present and spoke during public comment regarding concerns sent to the Board of Education about EMS personnel, noting potential mismanagement and/or ethics violations. The matter remains unresolved and under review.
O'Neill told the audience how difficult it was this past year for Edison to test well, as a central sixth was viewed primarily as a fifth grade, and assessed by seventh-grade standards by the state.
He also spoke on his preference to provide more higher achieving or honors type classes for middle school students to attend first, with an ultimate option to track down if necessary in a particular subject. HAP, he said, would remain in sixth grade. It was not mentioned whether HAP would remain for seventh-graders. It is discontinued after seventh grade when students begin to take language as a regular course.
Because state testing is moving towards online testing, meaning all students would have to take standardized tests online, O'Neill spoke of how elementary students would have to receive manual dexterity training to ensure their success. O'Neill also said that the district was committed to working with Edison Middle School to address testing issues, build connections between parents, students, and schools, review EMS teams and combinations, attempt to proactively and positively address the issues there.
Several other parents expressed their support of Edison Middle School.
Many Hazel parents attended to thank the BOE for listening to their pleas to retain Principal Ed Acevedo.
A high school parent expressed frustration that his child's schedule was in conflict, with an explanation from the superintendent that some conflicts were inevitable but that almost 97 percent of students were set for the fall, and the board president suggesting that the parent contact his child's guidance counselor to make sure the high school was attempting to resolve the issue.