Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-14-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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SCITUATE – When Supt. Carol Blanchette began working for the Scituate School Department more than a year ago, she said it was appar- ent to her through talking with par- ents and staff that the district needed to take a closer look at its curriculum. At the middle school level, students entering from the three elementary schools had educational gaps that made it particularly clear that a uni- form curriculum was needed, she said. Blanchette said the whole communi- ty felt the inequity in local education, and said school principals were talk- ing about coherence and alignment. For quite some time, teachers "cher- ry-picked" curriculum and were not consistent from class to class or school to school on what was being taught, said Blanchette. "The exposure gaps developed and were very clear. There was a desire to find a curriculum that could be aligned and consistent with all kids," she said. She said she worked with teachers and administrators to create focus groups to select curriculum based on Ed Reports, a nonprofit that reviews educational material for students in grades K-12. For the focus groups, the only parameter she gave was that selec- tions be made from the Ed Reports list with positive user ratings. A new curriculum was selected for English and math for all grade levels and will be implemented in a stag- gered method to avoid overwhelming teachers and students. "When you can be better, you should try and be better," Blanchette said. This year, grades 2, 3, and 6 are starting the new curriculum. Next year, grades 1, 4, and 7 will begin and in year three, the curriculum will reach remaining students in grades 5 and 8. "We tried to be thoughtful about it. There is a pent-up enthusiasm to get started," she said. Blanchette said the secret to the suc- cess, which was backed by improved Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System, or RICAS, test scores this year, is work being done on both curriculum and professional development. "It's not enough to just have an exemplary curriculum. You need the teacher who understands it," she said. Consistency with the curriculum is essential, and she said the schools are holding a running record and ongo- ing assessment to track progress and make instructional adjustments. This year, she began a more signifi- cant push into professional develop- ment and training. So far, she said, everyone seems to be embracing the change. Fundamentally, Blanchette said she believes students enjoy a challenge when learning a new subject, as do teachers in learning a new curriculum. "Sometimes, we sell our kids short to not let them think things through. We want kids to struggle and to be disciplined in thinking and persever- ance," Blanchette said. School Committee member Carolyn Dias reached out to The Valley Breeze & Observer to express her gratitude about the work Blanchette has done. She said unlike the new athletic field that is like a "shiny penny," curriculum decisions do not get the buzz they deserve. "It's not like a beautiful new field, but for me, it's so much more impor- tant and it's the critical work that needs to be done in our school and our district that, in my opinion, has been neglected over the years," Dias said. She said the significant reforms brought on by Blanchette, the for- mer chief of teaching and learning at the Rhode Island Department of Education, are important in the class- rooms. While Blanchette said improved RICAS scores were a good sign of the work done this year, she expects to see even better RICAS results next year. Most importantly, she said she no longer wants to see exposure gaps between classes and schools. Then, she said, she'll know the curriculum changes and professional develop- ment are working. Blanchette said the district will begin looking into other math and ELA curriculums in five years to ensure Scituate is teaching the best ones available. In the meantime, she said the dis- trict will begin looking at the science curriculum for grades 6-12 this year and begin looking at social studies next year. She said she hopes to have a new curriculum in place in all areas by the end of 2022. "It's not business as usual," she said. SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | NOVEMBER 14-20, 2019 SCITUATE 3 Scituate Animal Shelter seeks homes for barn cats SCITUATE – The Scituate Animal Shelter is seeking homes for adult cats that would be candidates for being barn cats. Representatives from the shelter say not all cats are suited to be com- panion house cats – some would be better for keeping a barn free of rodents. All barn cats are spayed/ neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and tested negative for FIV and feline leukemia. There is no adoption fee. For more information, call the shel- ter at 401-647-7200. IN BRIEF Sensory Story Time Nov. 23 SCITUATE – Hope Library, 374 North Road, will host Sensory Story Time on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. This will be a story time and sensory play for children ages 3-8. Registration is encouraged but drop- ins are welcomed. For more information or to register, call 401-821-7910. Officials: Curriculum changes will close education gaps By JACQUELYN MOOREHEAD Valley Breeze & Observer Staff Writer Glow Oil heat your home for less 401-475-9955 Check Our Website for Today's Low Heating Oil Price Valley Breeze offices to close for Thanksgiving and different publication days HOLIDAY DEADLINES The Valley Breeze office in Lincoln will be closed on Thursday, November 28, 2019 in observance of Thanksgiving Day. The news and display advertising deadline will move forward to Friday, November 22nd at 3 p.m. The classified line advertising deadline will move to Friday, November 22th at 5 p.m. PUBLICATION DAYS The Valley Breeze Cumberland & Lincoln edition, The Valley Breeze North Smithfield Blackstone Woonsocket edition and The Valley Breeze & Observer edition will be delivered on Wednesday, November 27th (instead of Thursday, November 28th).

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