Curriculum serves as the roadmap for what students will learn and how they will acquire essential knowledge and skills. The importance of curriculum in schools cannot be overstated, as it shapes the educational experience of students and lays the foundation for their future success. NSPS curriculum documents can be found on this, the Teaching and Learning portion of the district website. The curriculum documents include standards’ articulation documents that NSPS educators have developed to “unpack” the standards and share the philosophy and goals of a specific educational program. Each curriculum is accompanied by a “Yearly Framework” that establishes sequences both within and between levels and assures a coherent and articulated progression from grade to grade outlining units of study, essential questions, objectives and assessment practices. NSPS works to continually enhance and refine instructional programming though adoption of high quality programs.
English Language Arts (ELA)
NSES has implemented the “ReadyGen” core reading program, NSMS utliizes “My Perspectives” and NSHS implements the “StudySync” program. All three programs have been designated as high-quality by the RI Department of Education, align with state and national standards, and provide a clear roadmap for teachers. NSPS was awarded the competitive CLSD grant funds to support the adoption and implementation of the high-quality programs. Reading interventions address the unique needs of all learners providing targeted strategies and techniques that cater to their strengths and challenges. One approach that NSPS utilizes to support struggling readers is the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading instruction. NSPS special educators, reading specialists and elementary classroom teachers have been trained in the OG approach to instruction.
NSES has implemented the Eureka high-quality curriculum and NSMS/NSHS implements the Envison math program. Both programs align with state and national standards. This year, we plan to update/refine our elementary math program from Eureka to Eureka squared with the help of ESSER funds. Our high-quality curriculum materials engage students, promote critical thinking, and foster a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.
NSMS Science educators are in the process of evaluating science programs aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS.) In 2019, RIGL§ 16.22.30-33 was passed which requires districts to adopt curricula programs that are designated as “high-quality” by the RI Department of Education. ESSER funding will support the adoption and implementation of the new science curriculum.
In June 2022, the RI Department of Education published the Curriculum Framework for Health Education K-12. Our K-12 Health educators are in the process of developing and refining health curriculum to align with the new framework. All health curriculum documents can be found on the Teaching and Learning tab of the district website. It is anticipated that all health curriculum documents will be updated by Spring 2024.
Revised Rhode Island Rhode Island Social Studies Standards were endorsed by the Council for Elementary and Secondary Education in February 2023. The standards focus on four domains: Civics and Government, History, Geography, and Economics. This year our social studies teachers will review the standards and make recommendations for program adjustments. I would like to thank Valarie Carnevale and Natalie OBrien for searheading this work.
ESSER is the elementary and secondary education relief act. This funding is to help ensure that districts and schools can continue to operate safely; support sustained access to in-person instruction; and address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students due to the impact of (COVID-19.) One of the initiatives that this funding has supported is the Summer Enrichment Programs.
This year at NSES Summer Enrichment ran for 4 weeks and families of incoming 1st-5th graders had 7 programs to choose from each week. These programs included topics on science, reading, writing, art, poetry, STEM, health, and team building. Over 95 families signed up for at least one summer enrichment program, many families signed up for multiple weeks. We also worked closely with Camp Phoenix as well as ESY so students could participate in multiple school programs.
Here are a few examples of the offerings:
The Summer Enrichment program at the secondary level was met with much enjoyment and success. Teachers created a variety of offerings for students entering grades six through twelve. Over seventy students participated in an array of positive and uplifting educational and broadening programs not offered in a traditional academic setting, a few of the offerings included:
Implemeting after-school clubs is a powerful way to promote student engagement. NSPS provides a variety of grant-funded afterschool clubs and activities for middle school and high school students offering students opportunities to explore their interests, develop new skills, and form lasting friendships outside the confines of the traditional classroom.
This initiative was successful in the 22-23 school with over 300 students participating in after-school extracurricular activities appealing to students of all ages, interests, and abilities (ie. sewing, chess, disc golf, yoga, book clubs.) Our goal for the 23-24 school year is to have 350 students participate. By offering 60+ diverse clubs, actively involving students in the decision-making process, and promoting these clubs effectively, our schools can ensure that after-school activities will foster well-rounded individuals who are prepared for success in both academics and life.
The core components of North Smithfield Public School’s instructional programming are: standards, practices and relationships. These elements work together to create a supportive learning environment that fosters academic growth, personal development, and overall success.
Standards-based instruction is the foundation of effective teaching and learning. By implementing high-quality curriculum aligned with state and national standards, educators ensure that students are receiving a comprehensive and coherent education. Standards-based instruction provides clear learning objectives and benchmarks, enabling teachers to tailor their instruction to meet specific student needs. When teachers utilize standards as a guide, they can focus on essential content, monitor student progress, and provide timely interventions when necessary.
Effective instructional strategies are at the heart of student achievement. Educators must employ a variety of research-backed, high-impact teaching methods to meet diverse learning styles and needs. Strategies such as explicit instruction, multiple exposures, feedback, differentiated instruction, formative assessment, and cooperative learning create dynamic classrooms where students are actively engaged and motivated to learn. These techniques allow educators to tailor their instruction to individual students while challenging them to reach their full potential. Furthermore, integrating technology and innovative teaching tools into the classroom can enhance the learning experience, making lessons more interactive and relevant to the real world. NSPS has implemented a multi-year initiative to extend and refine instructional practices to foster academic growth.
Building strong relationships between educators, students, and their families is essential for fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment. When students feel valued, respected, and connected to their teachers, they are more likely to be engaged in their learning. Likewise, involving families in the educational process creates a collaborative partnership that enhances student achievement. Regular communication with parents and guardians allows educators to gain insights into students' needs, strengths, and challenges, facilitating a more targeted and personalized approach to instruction. Additionally, supportive relationships with teachers can help students feel safe, motivated, and empowered to take ownership of their learning, ultimately improving their academic performance.
Improving student achievement is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a combination of standards-based instruction, strong relationships with students and families, and high-impact instructional strategies. These components work together to create an environment where students are motivated, supported, and equipped with the tools they need to succeed academically. When educators align their teaching with educational standards, nurture positive relationships with their students and families, and employ effective instructional strategies, the result is a more engaged, confident, and accomplished student body.
As we all know, the pandemic had a significant impact on student achievement in mathematics. NSPS is committed to closing the gaps that resulted from the interruption of learning. To address this issue, NSPS has implemented a comprehensive approach that includes adopting high-quality curriculum, intervention structures and strategies, increasing time on learning, implementing diagnostic assessments, and providing high-impact tutoring. Based on internal diagnostic data, we have seen steady gains in our students' knowledge and skills.
One of the key pillars in improving math achievement is adopting a high-quality curriculum. A well-structured curriculum ensures that students are exposed to essential mathematical concepts in a coherent and progressive manner. NSPS utilizes curricula programs that focus on conceptual understanding, procedural knowledge and application of knowledge learned. NSES has implemented the Eureka high-quality curriculum and NSMS and NSHS implement the Envison math program. Both programs align with state and national standards and provide a clear roadmap for teachers. Our high-quality curriculum materials engage students, promote critical thinking, and foster a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.
Not all students grasp mathematical concepts at the same pace. To address the needs of struggling learners, intervention strategies are essential. These strategies should include small-group instruction, one-on-one support, and differentiated teaching strategies. Our targeted interventions have helped bridge gaps in understanding and prevent students from falling behind in math.
Increasing Time on Learning
Math achievement is directly related to the amount of time students spend on learning the subject. NSPS has prioritized math education by allocating sufficient instructional time and resources. Extended math classes, after-school programs, and summer math programs are provided to students allowing additional opportunities to practice and reinforce their skills.
Implementing Diagnostic Assessments
To make informed decisions about instruction and intervention, diagnostic assessments are crucial. These assessments help educators identify students' strengths and weaknesses in math. By analyzing the data from the iReady diagnostic assessments, teachers tailor their teaching methods to meet the specific needs of each student.Also, educators use data to track progress over time and adjust their lessons accordingly.
This Fall we will receive our state's RICAS data. RICAS is the annual assessment taken by Rhode Island students in grades 3-8 for English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. NSPS will analyze the results by subcategory to identify strengths and areas of weakness to inform and fine-tune programming.
North Smithfield Public Schools is committed to engaging and challenging all students in a rigorous K‐12 ELA curriculum integrating reading, writing, listening, and speaking to ensure the success of all students in a global and technological society.
Reading intervention and supports play a crucial role in shaping the educational journey of learners, particularly those who face challenges in developing strong reading skills. These interventions go beyond mere assistance; they are a lifeline for individuals striving to overcome difficulties and unlock the world of knowledge and imagination that reading offers.
Reading intervention is essential because it addresses the diverse needs of learners. Not all students progress at the same pace, and some may encounter obstacles due to learning differences, such as dyslexia or language processing issues. Interventions are tailored to the specific needs of each learner, providing targeted strategies and techniques that cater to their strengths and challenges. These personalized approaches ensure that students have an equal opportunity to access information and engage with educational materials effectively.
One approach that NSPS utilizes to support struggling readers is the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading instruction. Developed by Samuel Torrey Orton and Anna Gillingham in the early 20th century, this method utilizes multisensory learning techniques. By engaging learners through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways simultaneously, this method capitalizes on the brain's capacity to process information from different angles. This approach not only facilitates improved retention but also accommodates various learning styles, fostering a deeper understanding of language concepts. Through this method, learners develop a more comprehensive grasp of phonics, spelling rules, and reading comprehension skills. The step-by-step progression in teaching phonemic awareness, decoding strategies, and language structure allows learners to build a strong foundation gradually. This scaffolding prevents learners from becoming overwhelmed and ensures that each concept is thoroughly understood before moving forward. By demystifying the complexities of reading, the OG approach empowers learners to navigate the world of language with confidence.
NSPS special educators, reading specialists and elementary classroom teachers have been trained in the OG approach to instruction. By investing in reading intervention, NSPS provides an equitable and enriching learning experience for all students, regardless of their individual learning needs. Ultimately, reading interventions empower learners to conquer their difficulties, unlock their potential, and embark on a lifelong journey of learning and discovery.
On November 15, 2022, the RI Council on Elementary and Secondary Regulations approved new readiness-based graduation requirements for the Class of 2028.
Extensive research shows the positive correlation between a student's vocabulary and student achievement. The size of a student's vocabulary in kindergarten is actually a predictor of their ability to learn to read. A robust vocabulary gives students the ability to express themselves and comprehend complex material. It impacts reading, writing, comprehension, listening, and speaking. Research also shows that teaching vocabulary in isolation (ie. teacher gives students a list of words, students define or match words with definitions, student writes a sentence using the word) does not produce a robust vocabulary.
North Smithfield Schools has been implementing the generative vocabulary strategy. “Generative refers to the ability to apply knowledge of how words work when encountering new words. Generative instruction aims to make visible to students critical features and functions of words and connections among words. This knowledge is intended to support students in generating meanings of unknown words in texts.” (Hiebert, Elfrieda. “Generative Vocabulary Instruction.” Heibert-Pearson-Generative-vocabulary-instruction.pdf.)
All elementary teachers have received professional development to implement this strategy seamlessly into their language arts instruction. More recently, North Smithfield Middle School ELA teachers participated in a professional development series including a full day workshop on “MORPHOLOGY: GREEK AND LATIN ROOTS” through the Brainispring Educator Academy.
Using the generative vocabulary strategy, teachers develop a graphic organizer and use it daily to define the word, identify multiple meanings for the word, discuss the root word as well as the prefixes, suffixes, synonyms and antonyms. In the upper grades teachers also teach Greek and Latin root morphology.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark Twain
The Rhode Island Right to Read Act was passed in July 2019. The law requires educators to exhibit either proficiency in or awareness of the knowledge and practices of the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. Elementary Educators are required to exhibit proficiency in the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy will complete a rigorous training, including a classroom application component, from a professional learning provider approved by RIDE.
To meet this requirement, our elementary educators are being trained in Orton Gillingham. The Orton Gillingham approach is a structured method of instruction that helps students master skills in a cumulative way, incorporating tactile and visual as well as auditory elements. This approach provides students with a solid foundation for building a thorough understanding of reading, writing, spelling, and vocabulary, ensuring that every student has the skills and the confidence to succeed in the classroom. This training program was first developed in order to teach dyslexic students to read, however, the strategies and methods will certainly help all students.
This training is quite a heavy lift for our educators as it requires much time and effort. However, we are confident that this training will have a positive impact on teaching and learning.
Esser is the elementary and secondary education relief act. This funding is to help ensure that districts and schools can continue to operate safely; support sustained access to in-person instruction; and address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students due to the impact of (COVID-19.)
During the planning phase of ESSER III we elicited input from various stakeholders. The district launched a web based survey. The survey received 334 responses; 70% of respondents were parents/guardians and 30% of the respondents were educators/staff/community members. Results identified priorities as:
All survey results were reviewed by each individual school improvement team. The school improvement teams consist of a groups of educators and other stakeholders (ie. community members, parents, and students.) Each SIT made specific recommendations for the development of the ESSER III plan. The district Professional Development Advisory Committee, Teacher Leaders and Administrative Team, have also given input/feedback to inform the plan. We also analyzed academic achievement DATA to pinpoint learning gaps as we make plans to to understand student needs resulting rom or relating to the impact of COVID-19.
Examples of how our priorities then become reality are:
We will present at School Committee meetings and Budget Committee meetings in terms of how stakeholder input was taken into account as well as communication of the district priorities and plan specifics.
This plan will be reviewed and revisited every six months with each individual school improvement team. The administrative team will also provide bi-annual presentations to the school committee.
We had a wonderful turnout at NSES this summer for enrichment! In the summer of 2021 we ran 8 programs. This summer we happily expanded and we were able to welcome over 140 students to participate in 15 different programs taught by 17 NSES teachers. The programs included Bucket Drumming, Science Adventures, Model Rocket Club, Be Your Best Club, Playful Pals, Ocean Club, Small Group Tutoring, Story time Standards, STEM Scholars, Mindful Moments, Eco Art, Artful Narratives, Math Ramp Up, Math Gone Wild, and Summer Reading Book Club.
The Summer Enrichment Program at the secondary level was a resounding success. NSMS and NSHS teachers offered a wide range of academic and enrichment courses for students to socialize, learn something new, and have an opportunity to engage in activities with their peers. Over 110 students in grades 5 through 12 participated in an array of offerings. The North Smithfield Summer Enrichment grew by leaps and bounds in only its second season. Sessions Included: The American Red Cross Babysitting Class, The Welcome to NSHS: New Student and 9th Grade Orientation, Summer Math Enrichment, Greenhouse and Gardening, Paint Party, Bracelet Making, A Volleyball Clinic, The Kindness Rocks Project, and he Book Club Brunch.
Clare Arnold, Assistant Superintendent