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Mar 022014

Last Thursday, February 27th, Norwalk Public Schools superintendent, Dr. Manny Rivera, presented his recommended PreK-5 English Language Arts Program to the Board of Education Curriculum and Instruction Committee.  Following the 60-minute power point presentation,  the committee voted 3-1 to forward his recommendations to the full Board of Education for review.  His plan includes the recommendation to go with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys as the primary English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum,  with Core Knowledge (CKLA) as an optional pilot alternative,  in a couple of schools for K-2 classrooms, and the adoptions of  Scholastic’s Core Knowledge Classroom Libraries to create independent reading libraries in every classroom.  The curriculum is expected to be voted on within the next 30 days, with implementation in the classrooms next fall, as districts get ready to deploy curriculum  that  supports the new Common Core State Standards.



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys

Core Knowledge Language Arts



Sep 142013

Very shortly, the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT)  for 3rd-8th graders and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) directed at 10th graders, will be replaced  by The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium,  one of two multi-state consortia, awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education to develop an assessment system based on the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is creating next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts/literacy and  Mathematics.  The new system of computer adaptive assessments will include summary and formative tests and  provide information to teachers about whether students are on track, as well as resources and tools for teachers to help students succeed.

To learn more about the new testing or even take a sample test, click on the link below:

smarter balanced tests

Oct 182012

Wireless Generation products are currently being trialed at 3 elementary schools for reading assessment and instruction.  Fox Run, and Marvin started using the m Class software last year following receipt of  private foundation grants.   Jefferson is starting this year with more trial deployments planned across Norwalk’s elementary schools, following receipt of  grant monies.

Wireless Generation is an educational and  instructional software company that  delivers innovative  tools, systems and services directed at improving student achievement, helping schools implemented innovative organizational changes, and delivering professional development to teaching staff.  The company has developed instructional and assessment software tools in both reading and math, as well as other assessment tools designed to assist teaching staff with  delivery of  individualized instruction to students.

NPS is currently trialing their  m Class reading 3D software which is directly at observational reading and assessment software for grades K–5.  It fuses best practices across a variety of pedagogical approaches by combining a running record of  text and reading diagnostics with quick indicators of foundational skills development.  The end result is a  complete picture of a students’  reading comprehension.

Click below to read more about the company and its products.

Wireless Generation


Sep 252012

Attached is the Norwalk Public School District’s roll out and budget plan for implementing the Common Core Standards, as well as, community video explaining the standards and rollout.

NPS Common Core Roll Out Video

Norwalk CCSS_rollout plan(4)


Common Cores State Standards  This website provides a clear and consistent set of standards for what students are expected to learn in Language Arts and Mathematics, in order to compete in the global economy.  Forty eight states have adopted the standards and roll out is expected in the 2014-15 school year.

Aug 072012

Attached is a report prepared by GE in response to assessing Norwalk’s readiness to deploy the Common Core State Standards in 2014-15.  However, it reveals much more than that and touches upon the governance and status quo issues that have plagued Norwalk for over a decade.  The 21 page report – which you can quickly skim over in 10-15 minutes outlines the following (we apologize that it was scanned upside down, you’ll have to rotate it 🙂 )outlines the following:

GE Report On Norwalk

Our Strengths

  1. Steady student gains
  2. Quality instruction
  3. Common Formative Assessments
  4. Data Teams
  5. Relationships at School level
  6. Pockets of strong leadership
  7. Support for CCSS
  8. Some district structures
  9. General Support for new Superintendent her reforms but many political challenges

 Our Challenges

  1. Communication & Consistent Practices
  2. Schools reflect independent ‘city states’
  3. Inadequate funding
  4. Limited capacity for implementation of CCSS
  5. Lack of technical capacity
  6. BOE politics and dysfunction
  7. Leadership tension and constant change
  8. Over involvement of union leadership

In light of Dr. Marks’ resignation, we would like  our readers to call  particular attention to items 6, 7 and 8 in the Challenges Section of this document.     While Norwalk is not in such dire straits as other school districts, it is UNDER-PERFORMING and we believe it has much to do with the adult actions.   This GE Report, reflects  a common theme that was written up by Price Waterhouse in 2002, in a Cambridge Report in 2007 and a Special Education Report by CREC in 2008.  Must children, parents and the community be forced to wait until these individuals retire before we can truly embrace reform?

Jul 102012

This exerpt  was taken from the Digital Learning Now  website.

Technology has changed the way we live, work, shop and play. We can bank, shop and donate securely from anywhere we can access the Internet. We can to communicate across oceans and continents in seconds. We can work from anywhere, increasing efficiency and productivity. Yet, American education has yet to embrace the power of technology to customize education and give students the ability to gain knowledge anywhere, anytime.

Digital learning is any type of learning that gives students some element of control over time, place, path and/or pace. It allows students to learn in their own way, on their own timetable, wherever they are, whenever they can.  Students are using digital learning everywhere – except school. They are gaming, texting and posting on the Internet.

Imagine if we channel those digital skills into learning? Student achievement would skyrocket!


Consider some of the following information taken from their website: www.digitallearningnow.com

The 7 Transformational Metrics:

In developing their plans, states should adopt a sense of urgency around certain policy areas:

  1. establishing a competency-based education that requires students to demonstrate mastery of the material,
  2. providing a robust offering of high quality courses from multiple providers,
  3. ending the archaic practice of seat-time,
  4. funding education based on achievement instead of attendance,
  5. funding the student instead of the system,
  6. eliminating the all-too-common practice by school districts of prohibiting students from enrolling with approved providers, either by withholding funding or credit, and
  7. breaking down the barriers, such as teacher-student ratios and class size limits, to effective, high quality instruction.

Ultimately, data provides the empirical basis for lawmakers and policymakers to develop sound policy.

Numbers below represent metrics from the Nuts & Bolts Policies

Create a 21st Century College and Career Ready High School Diploma
• Require Online Courses to Earn a Diploma (8)
• Adopt Competency-Based Promotion (31, 32)
• Fund Digital Learning in the Formula (14, 15, 16)

Empower Students to Customize Education for Individual Student Success
• Empower Students and Parents with Decisions (15, 16, 55)
• Provide a Robust Offering of High Quality Choices (35-36, 42-53)
• End Barriers to Access (3, 4, 12, 13, 17, 18)
• Foster Blending Learning (22-28)
• Fund Digital Learning in the Formula (14, 15, 16)

End the Achievement Gap
• Adopt Test-Based Promotion (31, 32)
• End Seat-Time (34)
• Adopt Performance-Based Funding (63)
• Fund Digital Learning in the Formula (14, 15, 16)

Support High Achievers
• Foster Acceleration for Middle School Students (23, 29, 30)
• Foster Acceleration for High School Students (29, 30, 33)
• End Seat-Time (34)
• Fund Digital Learning in the Formula (14, 15, 16)

Extend the Reach and Results of Great Teachers
• Recruit and Retrain Effective Educators (37, 38, 39, 62)
• Provide Teachers with Ability Support for Digital Learning (40, 41, 68, 69)
• Replace Class-Size Limits with Workload Guidelines (9, 10, 11)

Modernize Infrastructure
• Administer Tests Digitally (56, 57)
• Provide Content Digitally (64, 67)
• Provide Internet Access Devices (68, 70)

Ensure a Quality Education for All Students
• Provide a Robust Offering of High Quality Choices (35-36, 42-50, 53)
• Demand Accountability for Student Learning (58-61)

Check out where Connecticut Stands legislatively with respect to digital learning.

Connecticut Status on Digital Learning

Check out what the State of Colorado and the Jefferson County Public School District is doing with regard to On-Line Learning. Can Norwalk learn anything?




Apr 042012

On March 8th, the BoE Curriculum Committee met with central office staff  to review the district plans for roll out of the Common Core State Standards across Norwalk’s 19 schools.  There are interesting changes afoot that will be made to both the Math and Language Arts curriculum.  Math will focus on depth over breadth and  will remove some  content previously viewed as sacred in certain grades and will shift the content to other grades.  Language Arts will see an more emphasis placed on  non-fiction and informational texts and an increase in evidence based writing and vocabulary.

Click  on the presentations below to see what was reviewed:

PRINCIPALS Presentation___ Common Core State Standards

CCTT mtg_2_29_12





Nov 022011

Mr. Matthew Nittoly, Director of Side by Side Charter School and Emily Lopez, Principal of Columbus Magnet School, are pleased to announce plans for a professional development workshop on Tuesday November 8, that will bring teachers, assistant teachers and administrators from both Side by Side Charter School and Columbus Magnet School together for two half day sessions that uniquely correlate to the Bank Street Curriculum and constructivist roots of the mission of both schools. The first session will be facilitated by staff developers Betsy Grob and Mollie Welsh-Kruger from Bank Street College and will explore both the role and definition of “intentional teaching in the constructivist classroom.” The other half day will engage teachers in a discussion on the “Art of Questioning” – using questions to promote rigorous, critical thinking in our students and will feature a dynamic presentation by Christopher Eaves, artistic director of eavesdrop®, a New York City theatre and arts education collective. Both schools view this collaboration as a wonderful cost sharing opportunity and a prelude to meaningful professional dialogue between the teaching staffs of both schools.





Evelyn Quigley, Parent Community Coordinator

Side by Side Charter School

10 Chestnut Street

Norwalk, Ct 06854

203-857-0306, x130



Sep 292011

Think academic rigor is only an issue for urban school districts like Norwalk?

The chart below provided by the authors of http://globalscorecard.org provides a short list of a variety school district test data from urban, rural,  affluent suburban and charter schools in the U.S. and ranks them against the median average  (50 percentile) for mathematics of  their international counterparts?

Increasing academic rigor is one of the major drivers behind the Common Core Curriculum standards that are to be deployed in the 2014-15 time frame.

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Are evidence-based.










Sep 292011

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.  Forty-five (45) of the fifty (50) states have adopted this standard, including Connecticut.

The NGA Center and CCSSO received initial feedback on the draft standards from national organizations representing, but not limited to, teachers, post-secondary educators (including community colleges), civil rights groups, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Following the initial round of feedback, the draft standards were opened for public comment, receiving nearly 10,000 responses.

The standards are informed by the highest, most effective models from states across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn. Consistent standards will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Are evidence-based.


Source:  From the Home Page of The Common Core State Standards Initiative

For detailed information on the Common Core Curriculum go to their website:



Below is the Norwalk Public Schools Presentation on Common Cores Standards and how Norwalk plans to implement

Common Core State Standards

Common Core Standards Initiative