Milford School Board learns more about academics and assessments

Terry RogersEducation, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Milford School District Board of Education recently learned about academic programs in the schools as well as how students are assessed

At a recent meeting of the Milford School District Board of Education, Dr. Bridget Amory, Director of Student Learning, provided the board with details on various academic programs used throughout the district as well as information on how students are assessed.

“Governor Carney did witness some of the outstanding performances with our children today when they were able to cold read the actual proclamation he delivered,” Dr. Amory said. “So, it was really exciting to see some of the outcomes of the efforts that we put forth. And, before I move on to the actual sharing of the resources that have been approved and are aligned to our instructional standards, I do want to remind you of the students that we serve. All of the curriculum decisions that are made in this district are intended to help support these students.”

According to a slide presented to the board, Milford’s student population is made up of 45.2 percent Caucasian and 25.6 percent African American. In addition, 23.5 percent are Hispanic, one percent are Asian while Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and American Indian or Alaskan student make up less than one percent each of the population. According to the statistics presented, 18.2 percent of the student population have disabilities, 18.2 percent are multi-lingual learners and 2.2 percent are homeless. Finally, 53 percent of the students are female, and 47 percent are male.

“So, as we transition to looking at our English language arts programs, you can see that we have adopted the Bookworms curriculum in grades Kindergarten through fifth and then in the secondary levels, we have Amplify ELA for the middle level and then we transition into My Perspectives for the high school,” Dr. Amory said. “We also have AP at the high school as well. We do have the district approved curriculum adoption cycle which we have established and are continuing to use as a guide. So, we will continue to review ELA starting next year to determine if we need to move forward.”

Dr. Amory also pointed out that, at the secondary level, there were two electives under the English curriculum. Students can choose to take Creative Writing and/or Film Analysis as electives.

“In mathematics you can see we have the adoption of the Bridges at the elementary level. And this is the first year we had an adoption with Envisions Math at the entire secondary campus six through 12,” Dr. Amory said. “As you move into science, we have been using Mystery Science as the resource to support elementary instruction. And we use Open Science which is part of our state of Delaware Science Coalition and then into the high school we have a variety of offerings including the biology, the physical sciences, and many of the AP course offerings. One of the areas of need is to get into our science classes at the high school and make sure that we have alignment particularly among our biology classes.”

According to Dr. Amory’s presentation, elementary and middle school-aged students use curriculum designed by the Social Studies Coalition of Delaware. At the high school level, ninth grade students study World History and Geography while tenth grade students study U.S. Government and Economics. In eleventh grade, students study U.S. History. AP courses in social studies include Human Geography, U.S. History, Governmental & Politics, Psychology and European History. Electives include Psychology as well as Sociology and Criminal Justice which are offered as dual enrollment programs.

“As you are aware we have a very growing population of multilingual learners,” Dr. Amory said. “And so, we provide a variety of different options to help provide those supports. But we also have many students who are participating in the World Language program through World Language Immersion as well as the Spanish Word Language in our high school program. The Spanish program has been working with a new curriculum this year and we are very excited to see some of the outcomes that are come from that work.”

As for technology, Dr. Amory pointed out that every student in Milford School District is assigned a Chromebook. Students in Grades 6 through 12 take the devices home daily. The district decided to require elementary students to keep the Chromebooks at school to reduce wear and tear although they are sent home on an as-needed basis. All Chromebooks include learning software such as Google Classroom and Schoology. They are protected with GoGuardian which is designed to filter explicit or harmful material while also allowing a teacher to manage the device. Talking Points is used to communicate with families in their native language and there are also supplemental curriculum resources, such as Discovery Education, Imagine Learning and more.

“We offer a variety of related arts across not only all of our elementary schools but also as children transition into the middle school,” Dr. Amory said. “And then they become a little more defined into career pathways as they transition into our high school. We also have our “T.E.A.M.,” which is Talent Enrichment and Acceleration Program, which is right now designed at the elementary level and that’s intended to support some of our gifted and talented students. And then we anticipate that those children would transition into the honors and AP track as they transition into our secondary programs.”

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a growing focus area at the secondary level. The pathways toward CTE begins at Milford Central Academy where students are provided with details on the many pathways offered at the high school which are geared toward careers.

“They get exposure and then in the high school they have the opportunity to continue exposure into different pathways. But they also have an opportunity to really focus in and actually graduate Milford High School with various credentials that are associated with their program,” Dr. Amory said. “We offer a variety of dual enrollment and articulated courses in partnership with all of the higher ed institutions throughout the state of Delaware. Each one of them is a bit unique and each of our students actually participate with them in a variety of different ways. Again, it’s very unique depending on the student path and the direction that they choose to move forward.”

There are supports offered to students beyond the classroom, Dr. Amory stated. At the elementary level, AHOY is an after school tutoring program while at the secondary campus After the Bell is available. Both programs also have transportation options as well.

“We not only offer an on-site with face-to-face tutoring, but we offer also offer the remote opportunity and the high school is going to begin adding some Saturday school sessions for the students who might need an extra push to help make it toward graduation,” Dr. Amory said.

Dr. Amory ended her presentation with details on how students are assessed. The district currently uses the Delaware System of Student Assessment (DeSSA), which measures content knowledge and skills based on ELA, Math Common Core, NGSS Science as well as Delaware Social Studies standards. Students who are planning to attend college are also assessed using the SAT and PSAT while those for whom English is a second language are assessed using ACCESS. The DeSSA Alt measures content knowledge and skills based on alternate standards of math, ELA and science while the AAPPL measures growth in World Language proficiency for Spanish immersion students.

“I just have one quick comment that I think is interesting just because it’s been in the news over the last month or so,” Board member Dr. Adam Brownstein, said. “It’s interesting that you mentioned Saturday time. So, in an era when many districts are moving to a four day week, we are moving to a six day week, which I agree with. I’ll say that just in case there’s any misinterpretation of my comment, but that is a testament to our staff that they are willing to move in that direction. The number one reason for the four day week has nothing to do with academics and everything to do with teacher burnout and retention. So, I just want to applaud our employees for willing to step up and put in extra time, not less time. So, thank you.”

Dr. Amory stated that the staff was excited about the addition of Saturday school and Dr. Brownstein commented that when he was in high school, he attended on Saturday.

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