New super recommending delay for controversial Norwalk curriculum choice

Norwalk BOE 080613 163-001
Norwalk Superintendent Manuel Rivera addresses citizens from the vantage point of a Norwalk Board of Education member for the first time Tuesday.

Superintendent Manuel Rivera announced Tuesday night he is recommending that the choice of a K-5 English Language curriculum be delayed an scheduled for implementation in the 2014-2015 school year.

The curriculum is needed for the transition to Common Core State Standards. A committee of teachers and school administrators, including one elementary school teacher from each school, spent six full days over the past school year studying the curriculum options. About 50 people attended a BOE curriculum committee meeting last month on the topic, expressing concern that the board would choose a different curriculum than the ones preferred by the committee.

A public speaker at Tuesday’s meeting addressed the topic.

“I know how much time and effort the ELA committee spent analyzing the K-five language arts program,” said Howie Ziperstein, a Cranbury Elementary School teacher who lives in Sandy Hook. “Because of the elementary school teachers’ educational background and understanding of what is necessary to implement the Common Core Standards at the elementary level, you should follow their recommendation.”

He asked if board members had visited each school, and said the teachers know best.

“We cannot go another school year without a language arts program that is consistent throughout the district and relevant to the Common Core as well as being the most highly rated program,” he said. “… To wait until 2014-2015 would be major disservice to the 5,232 elementary students of Norwalk.”

Rivera said the last board vote on the topic was essentially a referendum asking for his input on the topic. He said he has met with the committee, spoken to national experts on literacy, studied the rubrics and performance data.

The schedule that was drawn up for the transition called for 2013-2014 to be a development year for K-5 curriculum, with adoption in 2014-2015, he said.

“It’s too late at this point to bring in trainers that would actually be ready in September,” he said. “I think we need to take this time, make sure we have the absolute best input that I can provide, since that is what I have been asked to do and that is what I intend to do.”


5 responses to “New super recommending delay for controversial Norwalk curriculum choice”

  1. Ergo


    Yet again the Norwalk students suffer because of the adults.

    To the point that Howie Ziperstein made: Can someone please explain to me why every class in every school isn’t learning the same lessons with the same homework? For example, say my child is in 5th grade and leaves mid-year to go to another Norwalk school. Wouldn’t it make sense for that transition to be seamless? Instead, different teachers at different schools teach different lessons at a different pace with different homework. Perhaps at the end of the year the result may be the same, but along the way shouldn’t it be the same as well?

    Time and time again the opinions of the educators are dismissed. They are in the classrooms day after day, year after year. They know our children and they know how this mish mash of curriculum if adversely affecting the students. To dismiss their valuable input just reinforces how ignorant the BOE and new Superintendent are.

    For shame.

  2. Piberman

    It’s comforting to observe that our new Supt., our public school’s chief education officer hired by the BOE, is indeed responsible for implementing curriculum changes, not the NFT. Or parents. A positive development.

  3. oldtimer

    Professor Berman
    It says the new super is “recommending”, not implementing. That sounds like the BOE makes the decision, not Dr. Rivera. The law reads that the superintendent is the board CEO, but, apparently, that is not how it works in Norwalk.

  4. M. Murray’s

    Japanese schools are all consistent across the country. That’s why they are outpacing us

  5. Ergo, your point is well taken. The plethora of curricula in the Norwalk schools is unacceptable. Our Common Core plan is directly intended to address that situation. Last year we implemented the first-ever uniform mathematics curriculum in our 12 elementary schools — GoMath. So every class in every elementary school is now using that new, high-quality curriculum. Last night the Board approved the Prentice-Hall Language Arts curriculum for grades 6-12; as of this fall, for the first time all of our middle and high schools will be on the same English curriculum. Tomorrow night the Curriculum Committee will be reviewing the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt “Big Ideas Math” Curriculum for grades 6-8, with the hope of implementation this fall as well. Our Common Core plan calls for adopting a K-5 English curriculum by September 2014, and we will meet that goal. This is a big project that can’t be completed overnight, but we are making great progress.

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