Newark Public Schools Holds Professional Development Session to Boost Science, Literacy, and Math Curricula

District uses recurring training sessions in a continued effort to develop highly effective teachers who are preparing Newark students for college and 21st century careers

[Newark, NJ – February 4, 2016] – Newark Public Schools (NPS) held professional development sessions focusing on literacy, math, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) earlier this week at the Marion Bolden Center, part of a district-wide professional development effort that is underway this year. The Leadership Institute for Teacher Teams (LIFTT) sessions train teachers from 60 schools across the district to facilitate support and coaching at the school level to improve instruction and curriculum implementation. Yesterday, LIFTT teachers across the district had the opportunity to share the ideas and strategies they learned with their colleagues during their district-wide professional development day.

“The district is committed to advancing high quality teachers who are creating innovative learning environments for our young people,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “Our district-wide professional development and LIFTT sessions ensure that our educators have the resources and skills they need in order to ensure our students are college and career ready.”

LIFTT has transformed the way the district coaches and supports school leaders and teacher teams to help them improve curriculum implementation and use data to drive instruction. On Monday, NPS hosted LIFTT sessions in literacy and science. The science LIFTT session focused on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World Through Science & Technology), a new core science curriculum that is being launched in Spring 2016. IQWST will be used to implement NGSS in grades 6 through 8. Utilizing the literacy Performance Based Assessment (PBA) from the interim assessment, literacy LIFTT teachers identified trends to utilize student writing as an instructional tool. Leaders developed action plans leveraging high-impact instructional strategies such as “Exploit and Adapt”, “My Favorite No”, “Exemplar Study” and “Student Conferencing”.

And on Tuesday, LIFTT teachers in math deepened their understanding of what the PARCC exams expect students to be able to do and explored what the implications of these expectations are for instruction. They learned specific strategies for how to ensure that lessons both build students’ conceptual understanding of math and develop their ability to create viable arguments about math as well as critique the reasoning of classmates.

“Over the last several years, with the goal of improving student learning in every classroom, we have made key changes to our curricula, interim assessments, instructional technology, and the ways that we coach and support educators in leveraging these tools,” shared Caleb Perkins, Special Assistant for Curriculum at NPS. “These changes take time and our belief is that in the coming years, NPS educators will use these tools to better prepare our students for more rigorous standards. LIFTT sessions will not only help our educators improve our students’ PARCC scores, but they will also prepare them for college and 21st century careers.”

The district has made key investments in recent years to improve access to technology, curriculum, coaching and testing services to help educators and students as they adjust to the new standards and more rigorous online testing required by the PARCC exam:

  • Educator Coaching and Support: The district has implemented the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI), the Vice Principal Leadership Institute (VPLI), Leadership Institute for Teacher Teams (LIFTT), and Digital Learning Institute (DLI) all of which have changed the way the district coaches and supports school leaders and teacher teams to enhance the implementation of college readiness standards and data driven instruction;
  • More Rigorous and Inclusive Curriculum: The district has also taken steps to ensure that all students can access these more rigorous curricula across all grades and subjects by implementing Universal Design for Learning;
  • Technology in the Classroom: The district has made significant, nationally-recognized investments in technology. Schools are implementing innovative, curriculum aligned programs to prepare students for college and career;
  • Improved Formative Assessment: This school year, the district also implemented Measured Progress Interim Assessments which is directly aligned with PARCC providing students with technology enhanced assessment experiences. This formative tool will provide educators with actionable data that enable teachers to make real-time changes to their instruction and student support methods.