M.S. 244

acceptance day

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Anatomy of a lesson

New York

Newly hatched Common Core curriculums get city endorsement

For the first time since 2003, the Department of Education has revised its curriculum recommendations for schools. The new recommendations are meant to guide schools through the myriad curriculum options on the market to those that best reflect new learning standards known as the Common Core. Students across the state are set to take math and reading tests aligned to the tougher new standards in April. After scrutinizing 40 programs produced by 19 companies that met the city's basic standards, teachers and Department of Education officials endorsed elementary and middle school reading and math programs from three of the largest publishing companies, including Pearson, which is also producing the state tests. The city is also encouraging schools to consider adopting literacy curriculums that the state hired two nonprofit organizations, Core Knowledge and Expeditionary Learning, to produce. Schools don't have to take the department's advice. They can use other curriculum programs, including the ones that they have already been using, or create their own materials. Currently, about 70 percent of schools opt to use the city's recommended curriculums, which for most schools were originally required a decade ago in one of former chancellor Joel Klein's earliest initiatives. Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew, who has criticized the city and state for holding teachers accountable for adapting to the Common Core without giving them a curriculum based on the standards, said today's announcement represented a major step forward.
New York

Bronx school charts data-driven path to serving the whole child

Dolores Peterson listens as one of her students goes over a speech she delivers for an honors event later in the evening. Two years ago, Omarina Cabrera's academics were a distant concern. Her family had been evicted and Cabrera was uncertain where she'd be sleeping each night. And as her brothers descended deeper into the gangs they recently joined, Cabrera was not even sure if she felt safe moving back in with her family. Months into her sixth-grade year, Cabrera was showing up late to school and teachers were noticing that her attitude seemed to be worsening. But admission letters pinned to a bulletin board located in the main office of the New School for Leadership and Journalism, where Cabrera is now an eighth-grader, shows that she now has a bright future. Years after teachers intervened to help Cabrera, she received offers to attend top public and private schools in the city, including Brooklyn Technical High School, and boarding schools throughout New England. Most students at the Kingsbridge school, also known as M.S. 244, don’t wind up at posh boarding schools. Ninety percent of the students come from families so poor that they qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 70 percent come from homes that speak a language other than English. Many struggle to pass state math and reading tests. But the school’s ability to catch students such as Cabrera before they are lost has caught the Department of Education’s attention. As part of a high-profile initiative to solve entrenched troubles of the city’s middle schools, officials there are directing a group of schools to replicate M.S. 244’s successful implementation of an early warning system to identify and intervene with at-risk students.