Mr. Jay Lebrun, Superintendent
49 Broad St., Plattsburgh, NY 12901

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Q. How is school administration engaged with parents and teachers in assessing implementation  of the common core curriculum?  Are there  regularly scheduled opportunities to discuss successes and challenges throughout the implementation process - by grade level, school building, district wide?  Have any adjustments to the process been made as a result of your ongoing evaluation?

A. In the past this effort was traditionally handled through the office of the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, however that position was eliminated due to budget constraints. In the absence of having the ability for anyone to have this particular focus, Building Principals, building-level School Improvement & Planning teams (SIP), the District Student Support Team (DSST), the District-Wide Educational Improvement Committee(DWEIC), and English Language Arts Curriculum committee have taken some voluntary roles assessing the implementation of the common core. There is hardly a moment in a day that faculty aren't immersed in some way, shape or form discussing, dissecting, looking at, teaching, assessing, thinking about, researching, implementing or wondering about the CCSS

Building Principals have provided professional development for teachers ever since the common core movement began. Some training has also been received through our local BOCES. Principals conduct teacher evaluations, monitor internal data assessments (AIMS WEB, state required Student Learning Objectives, state required Local Assessments, various interim assessments, and the entire Response to Intervention (Rti) program - all of which have ties to curriculum expectations as well as individual student achievement levels. Principals are inherently involved in curricular material purchasing for their building and also participate in all other mentioned committees. Principals also have access to the State Data Warehouse to look at individual students results on State-provided assessments. This information could be diagnostic to how students performed on 3-8 ELA/Math common core exams and has the potential to inform us of gaps in curriculum. However, the state has yet to provide the data to this detail from last year's tests. Tests were administered in April/May and schools didn't get the raw scores until late October, none of these scores were provided for item analysis by test question. We look forward to the day when the State Data Warehouse can provide such, it may become a useful tool to diagnose curricular implementation.

Early release days have been used to work on Common Core State Standards through studying the curriculum shifts, sharing practices and creating curriculum maps that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. PCSD has involved all levels in the Teaching Is the Core grant through the North Country Teacher Resource Center to expand our knowledge of the CCSS and bring it to the next level for our students. We are doing this through Professional Learning Communities after-school hours and in two cases offered on weekends.

Through the established parent organizations for each building parents have representation on committees, discuss common core (most currently the nature of the testing system and how/where student personal data is shared). Parents at PHS and SMS have recently been gaining access to the open student portal - they can see their students grades, comments, discipline, attendance - live. The Elementary report card was changed this year to reflect students' progress along the Common Core for parents as well. Parents do receive the impact of curriculum shifts at home - most notably are calls of frustration at the elementary level - parents having increased difficulty in assisting with modern common core homework. During the individual parent/teacher conferences student progress with curriculum is a common discussion, but also parents have the opportunity to view student work, curricular materials and the nature of the evolution of common core expectations. The Elementary buildings provided parents brochures to explain Common Core activity and have included aspects within building newsletters.

Building-level School Improvement Planning Teams look at specific needs/goals of individual buildings, however universally all buildings capture district-wide goals. The School Improvement Planning Teams were established in response to the Commissioner's Regulation 100.11 related to shared-decision making. The team is comprised of Administration, Teachers, Support Staff, Parents, and at the high school level Students. They review a range of issues and d certainly curriculum attainment is within their purview.

The District Student Support Team examines and sets expectations for all buildings utilization of student data - the focus is primarily on academic and behavioral interventions (Rti system), progress monitoring, and related matters. Recently they have been charged with seeking an interim assessment program aligned with the common core. Very few materials are available from publishing companies, yet they have examined and are in the process of piloting 3 products. The costs associated with purchasing this material are immense, the current strategy is to find an appropriate system before dedicating funds. The DSST has activated the common core based AIMS Web product, however this is more diagnostic to individual students and less an evaluation of the curriculum.

The District-Wide Educational Improvement Committee (DWEIC) was also born from Commissioner's Regulation 100.11 as the overarching shared decision making team. Representatives from each building (administrative, instructional, support staff, parents and two high school students) participate on this committee. As with the building-based School Improvement Planning Teams the DWEIC examines a wide range of topics - common core implementation is discussed more on the theoretical level and less by examining individual student data. The DWEIC does establish district expectations and reviews each building's goals prior to their implementation.

The English Language Arts Committee is newly formed in response to seeking aligned ELA/Literacy materials with the common core. They have currently set up piloting materials from two publishing companies as well as a group working with the State Modules. Early on this group formed out of frustration in the lack of material available to New York State - the State required all schools to use only materials that have been vetted through the Tri-State Rubric, yet since that edict, none have been vetted and the State appears to be abandoning this position. The committee took it upon themselves to measure materials against the Tri-State Rubric and have only piloted material in which the publisher has done the same. This piloting will continue as we also implement the curriculum assessment (interim assessments) the District Student Support Team is working on.

Plattsburgh has embraced working toward the common core despite the lack of curricular material available to schools, the absolute lack of item analysis data from the state on their common core assessments, and sufficient funds for personnel to focus on this matter. Even the state-developed Modules do not contain an assessment system to measure a school's progress with curriculum. They are however a reasonable scope & sequence and provide good examples for teachers, however they remain incomplete in their development. This is the fundamental problem with the way in which the state rolled out the common core - an all at once approach without the materials being developed.

Jay Lebrun, Feb. 28, 2014