Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 26, 2012

New plan for developing Andover schools' curriculum

Schools on Schools Nancy Duclos,Assistant Superintendent
The Andover Townsman

---- — The strategic plan for the Andover Public Schools defines success, in part, by our ability to adapt. To ensure high academic achievement for all students, and to support high quality teachers, staff, and leaders, we must constantly seek to improve our curriculum so that we capitalize on the best pedagogies, practices, and technology applications that are available to the classroom. To meet these goals, I have undergone a complete assessment of how curriculum has been developed in Andover, and I am excited to announce our new plan.

When I met with a group of teachers last spring to discuss what worked in the past and what needed improvement, a few things stood out.

First, teachers felt as though the curriculum work done in the past was not attached to a district vision, or--if there was a broader goal--it was not communicated effectively. Second, teachers shared that they thought their curriculum work ended up in a black hole somewhere--that it was never adopted or integrated.

The group also felt they were often working in isolation, and that the work done at one grade or level was not reviewed or understood by teachers at other levels.

In all three cases, there was a breakdown in communication, transparency, and accountability. As a result, the new plan I have developed addresses these areas of concern.

Going forward, we will have two working curriculum bodies; one a subset of the other. The first group, the Curriculum Steering Committee, will have representation from both level (elementary, middle, and high) and content (disciplines like math, science, world languages, etc). Members of the Steering Committee will work with me and other administrators to set direction, create communication processes, give feedback, make presentations, and facilitate the other body: the Curriculum Advisory Groups. These groups, representing all content areas, will create action plans, complete the outlined tasks of each plan, share their work with other areas, and make recommendations for summer curriculum work and professional development to bring the action plan from paper to reality.

Members of the Curriculum Steering Committee will serve as co - facilitators for each of the advisory groups. Having two working bodies with some membership overlap addresses the need for communication and accountability.

This year, 74 teachers have completed applications indicating which group they would like to serve on, as well as the content area they are most interested in.

The represented content areas, each with a specific focus, are Fine Arts, English Language Arts, Mathematics, PE/Health, Science, Social Studies, Social Emotional Growth & Development, and World Language. Those who teach Digital Learning, Special Education, and English Language Learners possess a level of expertise that is critical to every content area, so their participation and voice will be integrated into every aspect of this process.

Our first full board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24; thereafter we will meet twice a month.

In addition to the completion of the action plans, members of all groups will be trained in using a web-based curriculum mapping tool to support teacher collegiality and collaboration across the district.

We look forward to sharing the results of our work.

This article was written by Nancy Duclos, Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching.

She can be reached at nduclos@aps1.net.