If you have children in the Norwalk Public School system, you may be starting to wonder how the Common Core State Standards curriculum, which was adopted by Connecticut in 2010 and will be implemented by 2014-15, will affect them.
For example, if you are a parent of a second-grade student, you may want to know what your son or daughter should be learning in the fall in math according to CCSS. That answer is now available at your fingertips thanks to a new website unveiled by members of Norwalk's Common Core Transition Team at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.
You can preview the site at http://portal.norwalkps.org/curriculum/ccss/Pages/default.aspx.
The website is just one piece of a four-part multimedia package that was revealed to help teachers, administrators and parents to understand the move to the Common Core Standards. There is also a Powerpoint presentation, video and brochure.
The CCSS initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and education experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce. They have been adopted by 45 states.
"The charge last spring to the Common Core Transition Team was essentially to focus 100 percent on communication before we take on any other role," said Craig Creller, who has been the head of the Communications Committee on the team. "We had the privilege to spend a week in Florida at the sponsorship of GE at one of the most amazing educational conferences any of us have ever gone to.
It brought together the best minds in the business. We were able to hear firsthand from the people who wrote the words in the Common Core Standards."
Creller is referring to the GE Foundation Developing Futures in Education Conference, which took place in Florida last July. The Norwalk Public School system was invited by GE to get a leg up in implementing the CCSS.
The 12-member team that attended the conference, which included interim superintendent Tony Daddona, returned with many goals regarding what needs to be done to ease the transition to CCSS, and communication topped the list.
"We've worked very hard," Daddona said. "The process started about a year ago. We realized we needed to involve the community, so they have a total understanding of what the Common Core State Standards are, how this is a major shift in education and how it's an opportunity of a lifetime to improve teaching and learning."
In the video that was unveiled Tuesday, Norwalk Community College President David Levinson said, "Our state standards are designed to make sure that all students graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and career and to participate in a global community."
Creller said the goal of the four-prong multi-media package is to provide different formats to get the message out about CCSS not only to parents and school the community but to local faith groups and businesses. All of the communication outlets feature an apple core logo.
"We can send them the video. We can send them the Powerpoint--and it's not full of jargon but presented in layman's terms so the public can understand it," Creller said. "We can give them the color brochure. And the website appeals to teachers, administrators and the public. There's something for everyone."
Creller showed BOE members how the website is user-friendly, especially for parents trying to get a grasp of what their children will actually be learning.
He clicked on the Grade 2 Math checklist for fall in the Resources section and explained how one column shows what a child will be able to do and the other column gives the actual CCSS that corresponds with that skill.
He then clicked on the Grade 2 document under the CCSS Curricula section, which gives a detailed explanation of the standards, examples from the curriculum and how they are going to assess the curriculum.
"It's probably the most complete presentation of the curriculum we could think of," Creller said. "So we are really proud of the fact that this is not just a resource for teachers but for parents and the community as well."
The Board of Education announced several personnel changes Tuesday. After executive session, the board voted unanimously to bring Marvin School Principal Myrna Tortorello on at Central Office as principal on special assignment to the superintendent. Among her responsibilities will be overseeing several federally funded programs, including section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the implementation of Scientific Research-Based Interventions to help to ensure the academic growth and achievement of a broad range of students.
Tortorello also will oversee Academically Talented, and support schools with their transition to Common Core State Standards.
Daddona said Tortorello's coming onboard at Central Office will help shore up important management functions.
"Tortorello will help the district in much-needed oversight of the schools' Federal academic standards, as well as the critical transition to the Common Core Standards."
Sue Ellen O'Shea, assistant principal at Kendall, has been named interim principal at Marvin.
Also at the meeting, the board authorized Daddona to hire vacant, funded teaching positions. The vacant positions were created by additional retirements and resignations. At this time, all teacher layoffs have been completed.