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Garden City Public Schools' 'Question of the Week'

What are Common Core curriculum modules and does Garden City use the modules as its curriculum?

What are Common Core curriculum modules and does Garden City use the modules as its curriculum?
What are Common Core curriculum modules and does Garden City use the modules as its curriculum?
We know that Garden City parents and residents have questions about the implementation of the new Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) and other recent state mandates.

To help explain this initiative, the Garden City Union Free School District is introducing a new “Question of the Week” feature. The complete listing of the questions and answers will be posted on the district website under “Common Core FAQs.”

This week’s Common Core “Question of the Week” focuses on the state’s curriculum modules. The complete listing of the questions and answers to date is posted on the District website at http://www.gardencity.k12.ny.us, under “Common Core FAQs.”

Q: I’ve heard a lot about the Common Core curriculum modules provided by the New York State Education Department. What are these? 

The State Education Department has provided some English language arts (ELA) and mathematics instructional modules to be used as guides for curriculum development at the local school and district level. They are no substitute for curriculum.

In fact, the state acknowledges that the lessons in the modules are not “scripts,” rather they “should be viewed as vignettes to help the reader imagine how the class could look. These resources are optional and supplemental, and school districts are free to develop or purchase other materials for local use.” Garden City has taken this message to heart: It is implementing the Common Core standards through units of study established by its teachers and administrators.

The state has made these modules available for review at: www.engageny.org.

Q: Does Garden City use the modules as its curriculum?

No. Even if Garden City wanted to use the state-provided modules as curricula, only a relative handful were made available to the school district prior to last April’s assessments. Even at the time of this writing, not all modules are available. The state acknowledges that it is “actively working with our curriculum vendors to complete the remaining curriculum modules in both Mathematics and ELA as soon as possible.”

Rather than rely on the state to design Garden City’s curriculum, we have a curriculum review cycle established to ensure that our instructional materials and courses of study are aligned with standards, reflect state-of-the-art practices and are comparable to or exceed the instructional resources found in similar school districts. Garden City’s curriculum has always been and will continue to be designed by our own professionals with the needs of our own students in mind.

Our teachers and administrators have reviewed the state-provided modules to see how well aligned they are with the Common Core, our existing curricula and our plans for future curriculum development. Where appropriate, we’ve incorporated some elements of the modules into our instructional program or adapted ideas from the modules to reflect Garden City’s standards and expectations for student learning. We will continue to do this as additional modules are rolled out by New York State.

Our school district recognizes that curriculum in New York State should not be a “one size fits all” mandate. Instead, we base our plans for instruction on a thorough assessment of our students’ learning profiles and our community’s expectations for a well balanced, well sequenced program that builds the skills, understanding, and habits of mind needed for success in our rapidly changing society.  

Watch this column in subsequent weeks for more answers to questions and concerns about the Common Core and other New York State mandates. You can also visit the district’s website under “Departments,” “Curriculum and Instruction,” to access useful links. If you are a resident of the school district and have a specific question you’d like answered about the Common Core, please email: knightc@gcufsd.net.

Submitted by the Garden City School District

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