IRVINGTON BOARD OF EDUCATION (13-2330)

IRVINGTON BOARD OF EDUCATION

Irvington Township, located in Essex County, is a community with a diverse population of approximately 60,695 residents. The Irvington Public School District consists of 13 schools: one PreK school, four PreK-5 schools, four K-5 schools, two middle schools, one high school, and one alternative high school.

The Mission of the Irvington Public Schools is to create a community of learners dedicated to academic excellence through a combination of critical thinking and life skills, which define the education of the whole child, wherein the major focus of the school system is to improve academic achievement for all students. Our mission is enhanced through a multifaceted approach and a solid commitment to student growth and development by all District stakeholders, including, but not limited to, students, parents, administrators, teachers, custodians, secretaries, security, support staff, and the community-at-large.

The primary purpose of the Irvington Public Schools is to improve student academic achievement by (a) implementing the District’s aligned Standards curricula; (b) providing staff development that promotes student engagement and academic rigor; (c) conducting data analysis to inform instruction; and (d) monitoring teaching and learning to ensure the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The following Core Beliefs guide our path to improving student achievement:

1. Each student is entitled to a quality education that the entire community of invested stakeholders value, support, and enlarge by collaborating with one another.

2. Teacher quality is vital to engaging students in relevant, authentic tasks and improving student achievement.

3. Each student possesses the ability to achieve his or her potential in any learning environment when the adults provide the most appropriate supports for success.

4. The educational environment must be safe, respectful, and guided by skilled administrators who focus on advancing teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

The District is dedicated to academic success through a rigorous and relevant curriculum that empowers students to become productive, responsible, and self-directed learners and citizens. The curriculum is designed to meet the individual needs of all students through authentic assessment, researched-based instruction, and responsive differentiation that encourages students to think critically and to connect all learning to life beyond the classroom. Further, the curriculum is designed to explore big ideas, essential questions, and promote enduring understandings. Technology is also integrated throughout the curriculum to promote 21st Century thinking and learning. The curriculum is grounded in critical thinking skills to help students solve real-life complex, problems.

The practices of the English Language Arts (ELA) program correlate with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Students learn how to effectively communicate via writing and speaking and read both informational and narrative texts during the integration of various disciplines and the use of multifaceted learning approaches. The reading program uses a balanced literacy approach that includes the following components: read alouds, shared reading, guided reading, literature study, and independent reading. The program integrates history/social studies, science, and technical subjects and also provides a wide range of informational and narrative genres in a reader’s workshop environment. The writing program is implemented in a writer's workshop environment where students learn components of good writing, use computers to research and write, and produce original works on a given topic during the writing process.

In our quest to develop critical, reflective and analytical readers, we have implemented READ180 and Systems 44 in grades 3-11. READ180 is a comprehensive system of instruction, assessment, and professional development proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 3-12. Designed for any student reading two or more years below grade-level, READ 180 leverages adaptive technology to individualize instruction for students and provides powerful data for differentiation for teachers. Systems 44 is a foundational reading program for our most challenged readers in grades 3-12. The program will help students master the foundational reading skills required for success with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards through explicit instruction in comprehension, writing, and a personalized learning progression driven by technology.

In addition, we have implemented Reading Wonders in grades K to 5. Reading Wonders is designed specifically for the Common Core State Standards for Reading/Language Arts. The program provides support for building a strong reading foundation, accessing complex text, finding and using text evidence, engaging in collaborative conversations, and writing to sources. For our secondary students (grades 6-12), we have implemented Houghton Mifflin Harcourt-Collections. This program helps students develop abilities to analyze complex texts, determine evidence, reason critically, and communicate thoughtfully.

The goal of the District’s Mathematics Program is for all students to achieve proficiency by developing both conceptual understanding and procedural fluency through rigorous instruction and authentic assessment. The learning outcomes for students are the ability to think critically, communicate mathematically, and use mathematics to solve problems in real-life contexts.

My Math, a McGraw-Hill product is used in grades K-5.  This program was written to meet the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, which is in alignment with the District’s curriculum. My Math also includes an extensive technology component that allows students to use manipulatives and solve problems online. The program’s built in mechanism for differentiated instruction helps the teachers design lessons to meet the needs of all learners. In addition, the program infuses formative assessment at several intervals throughout instruction, which allows teachers to constantly monitor the progress of students and to prepare for reteaching, acceleration, and intervention.

The second program is Progressive Mathematics Initiative (PMI), a New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning program that is used in grades 6-12.  This program was developed by educators with units of instruction designed for K-12 mathematics instruction that support high levels of student achievement. This program also includes built-in formative assessments as the goal of the program is to increase student mastery of concepts through a formative assessment/reteaching continuum.

Irvington Public Schools supports the goal of improving student achievement by providing quality professional development that opens the doors to improved teaching and learning through content rich, research-based instructional practices. In-Service days are dedicated exclusively to the acquisition of knowledge and skills in an effort to refine the craft of our teachers for their work in the classroom. Teachers continue to make paradigm shifts by ensuring that students are provided with multi-dimensional instruction and high quality assessment. Our support staff also engage in professional development that provides them with opportunities to contribute effectively to the learning environment.

We are very proud of our work of infusing technology into every classroom in order to provide our students with rigorous, relevant and engaging educational experiences. We have expended over $1,500,000 in computer hardware upgrades. This new hardware will allow teachers to access educational videos and supplemental on-line instructional materials via the Internet at top rates of speed.

Analysis of data is a process of examining data with the goal of discovering useful information, drawing conclusions, and informing our decision-making process. Data from curriculum programs, benchmark assessments, unit assessments, formative assessments, and our Power School student database is analyzed regularly to inform all decisions at the classroom, school and central office levels.

The District uses the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching to evaluate the performance of teachers. The Framework provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to work collaboratively to improve teaching and learning through on-going and targeted feedback related to planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities.

Our talented and dedicated administrators, teachers, and support staff work collaboratively to stage an arena in which we expect our students to excel. Such an arena must be one that exudes a structured and safe environment conducive to learning.

I am thankful and most appreciative of the support that we receive from our parents and guardians. Parental involvement plays an integral role in improving academic achievement. The District will continue to partner with parents to provide on-going feedback on the effectiveness of services to students inside and outside of the classroom. Superintendent’s Quarterly Forums are conducted to foster parental as well as community involvement. In addition, the District website, Twitter, School Messenger automated phone system, surveys, and public access Channel 36 are used to communicate and seek feedback from parents and community stakeholders.

As the District’s educational leader, I look forward to strengthening partnerships with all stakeholders in our educational community as we improve student achievement as well as the overall educational experiences for our students. Our community serves as a village to make our District a place of excellence and opportunity for all.