Districts find common ground in science

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Troisi said that he expects it will take two or three years to notice an improvement in science skills at the high school level. After all, the first group of children to benefit from the change won’t even enter the district until September of 2013. “I look forward to watching the program,” he said.

Joseph Schumpf, a sixth grade teacher at the William L. Buck School in District 24, was one of the teachers who worked on the development of new science lessons this summer. He said the teachers used a top-down approach — they looked at what students needed to know for high school, then redesigned the sixth-grade science program to support that.

“We’re still using the same curriculum,” he said. “It was just tweaking it and making it more user friendly.”

Schumpf said it was a positive experience to work with sixth grade teachers from Valley Stream’s other districts, as well as high school teachers. It’s the students who will benefit from that work and planning, he explained.

Conte added that the teachers from the four districts worked very well together. “They were excited,” he said. “They really felt like now everybody’s on the same page.”

Adrienne Robb-Fund, superintendent of District 13, said a greater emphasis will be placed on science in her four elementary schools this year. She looks forward to the implementation of the revised sixth-grade curriculum.

Robb-Fund said it is her hope that all, if not most students will be prepared to take a Regents level science course by the time they reach eighth grade. She said now about one-third of eighth graders take Living Environment that year, a class that culminates with a Regents exam.

Conte said that changes to the science curriculum were made taking into account the resources that each school district has. Though the districts will continue to use different science textbooks, she explained that the content is consistent. The changes being made will not cost any money. “Most of us had similar things,” Conte said. “No one had to go out and buy anything.”

The Interdistrict Curriculum Council will resume meeting this fall. Conte and Troisi said the focus will shift to math for the 2012-13 school year.

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