The Board of Education approved five goals for the upcoming school year at Monday night's meeting, which included a discussion on the ballyhooed Common Core State Standards.
Although the goals are the same as those for 2012-13, some details have been added or removed. The goals are to:
increase student learning as measured by multiple and varied assessments;
improve achievement, service and relationships through communication that is responsive, clear, timely and inclusive;
promote and support innovative and exemplary research-based professional practices in order to continuously enhance teaching and extend learning;
promote an environment that fosters respect, ethical behavior and responsible global citizenship;
maintain the effective stewardship of district resources and physical assets in a matter that supports safe and healthy environments and optimizes student learning.
One of the primary changes in the student learning goal will be the addition of the Common Core State Standards to the curriculum and testing, which will be new in the upcoming school year.
Common Core is a nationwide initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to achieve national academic standards. It has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. In July 2010, Connecticut adopted the standards, which go into effect for academic year 2013-14. The standards have come under heavy fire from some parents, who see them as a federal intrusion into education, which they feel ought to remain a local issue.
Superintendent Mary Kolek said the Common Core State Standards would not have a sizable effect on the curriculum.
"We update (the curriculum) on a continuous basis, this year we also had national standards from the Common Core," she said. "For many years, we've been focusing on proficiency in at least one additional language. We remain committed to AP (Advanced Placement) courses, and looked at adding a number of AP courses into the program next year."
Board of Education member Hazel Hobbs made the point that the Common Core would not have the effect of lowering New Canaan's already high standards.
"The idea is that we have already a fantastic, rigorous curriculum and that we'll be looking at the Common Core to see if there's anything that we can look at to make it more rigorous and robust."
The thrust of the Common Core is one which New Canaan schools have been adopting for years, said Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Wilson.
"An example would be the difference between understanding something and knowing something, and our structure points to understanding," she said, highlighting the limitations of rote memorization in learning.
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