‘Rigorous’ yet rewarding

Board reviews early progress of new curriculum


In an effort to develop a curriculum based on the College Board’s standards, the Malverne Union Free School District has introduced Springboard, a Math and ELA instructional program that is offering Advanced Placement coursework to students in grades six through 10 this year. Jason Mach, the district chairman for English Language Arts, social studies and library science, discussed some of the early feedback on the curriculum at the Board of Education’s public meeting on Nov. 14.

“This program is rigorous,” Mach said, “but it promotes everything that’s needed for college success, such as higher-order thinking, critical skills, deeper understanding, advanced and academic vocabulary, and culturally relevant activities.”

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, teachers in the district took part in a three-day training on Springboard. “Teachers have a lot of creative strengths and they have a lot of creative abilities,” Mach said. “However, what often happens is one thing may be going on in one classroom that’s not going on in another classroom. Sometimes that creates a little bit of an inequity, or just a little bit of a learning gap between classrooms.”

While the district still wants teachers to apply their own skills, Mach said, Springboard should be used as a framework to prepare students for college.

“Since we gear our students to at least have the opportunity to take an Advanced Placement course throughout their high school career,” he said, “we feel like that foundation has to start sooner rather than later.”

Mach added that studies show that students who take more than one A.P. course increases their likelihood of staying in college, and that their success rate increases if they take two or more of the courses. The district plans to include 11th-graders in the Springboard program next year.

“There’s a big focus on students working together, and that allows students to take ownership of their own learning,” Mach said. “It’s attainable for all students, so we hope to continue that development.”

Along with Springboard, the district also introduced AP Capstone, a College Board program that aims to enhance students’ independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills. Comprising two A.P. courses — seminar and research — this program also allows students to analyze topics while making cross-curricular connections.

“I feel that this is the College Board’s answer to the [International Baccalaureate] program,” said the board’s vice president, Jeanne D’Esposito. “Instead of an I.B. diploma, students can receive capstone diplomas.”

With the new programs, “All students, regardless of their education level, have access to the exact same curriculum with the proper scaffolding and guidance,” Mach said. “We’ve taken a big step, but we’re taking a step in the right direction.”