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Curriculum and Instruction

 

VISION

At Las Vegas City Schools, students, families, and community members work together as partners to support an inspiring and compelling educational environment that fosters responsibility, creativity, social growth, and a passion for learning.

 

MISSION

The Office of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction is committed to providing students with a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed in college and career through a rigorous curriculum that is based on the tenets of the Common Core State Standards and the New Mexico Standards and Benchmarks. In order to achieve this goal we will create an environment in which:

· Faculty actively engages in professional development and Professional Learning Communities that value growth through collaboration, research, and examination of practices to continually improve instruction.

· All stakeholders are invested in contributing to the advancement of an educational system that holds high expectations for our youth.

· Our professionals utilize the highest quality instructional materials that support a scientifically research-based curriculum of rich and complex text, analysis, problem solving practices and academic debate.

 

PROFILE of the DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION

Curriculum

The Director is responsible for supervising the composition and update of the district’s curricula. Attached to this site is the list of the curriculum subjects and their alignment to the New Mexico Standards and Benchmarks. With the advent of the Common Core State Standards, the district will begin coordinating the effort to restructure the curricula in Math and English Language Arts to reflect the new standards and level of rigor required to meet the standards. Also attached to this site are all the Common Core Standards and their Appendices, as well as the unpacked Common Core Standards, with descriptions of what these standards should look like in the classroom.

Elementary Fine Arts Grant

Each year the district applies for and has received a grant for the sole purpose of promoting and providing experiences in all areas of the Arts for all elementary children. Some of our programs have included:

· Band Instructor for the 5th graders

· General Music instruction for grades K-4

· Choir for 5th graders

· A full-time art instructor

· Art materials

· An articulated art curriculum published by Core Knowledge

· Visiting Artists and cultural experiences

· Theater Arts presentations at Ilfeld Auditorium

· Missoula Children’s Theater, that works with the students and produces a performance for parents

Professional Development

Professional development is one of the most important priorities for the Las Vegas City Schools and is coordinated by the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. The director works with the Administrative Council to provide training that is appropriate to the needs of the district and individual schools. A Needs Assessment is compiled by the instructional staff and Director of Federal Programs to determine the areas of greatest need in professional growth for the district.

During the 2012-2013 school year we have launched an aggressive program of training for ALL instructional staff. Based on a blueprint of continual and escalating education in the Common Core State Standards, our staff is being trained to shift from the New Mexico Standards and Benchmarks in reading and math to a national set of standards for a more demanding education of our youth. A series of 15 training sessions was scheduled from August through March, providing teachers with a basic knowledge of three areas: 1) The structure and content of the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts from Kindergarten through 12th grade; 2) instructional strategies and practices in Mathematics; and 3) instructional strategies in English Language Arts throughout all facets of the curriculum and a comprehensive writing program called 6+1 Traits Writing. These sessions have provided our faculty with an enviable foundation in the Common Core and how it relates to instruction and curricular planning.

Next year our professional development will narrow its focus to specific grade levels and the development of Common Core lessons that will meet the needs of our students. We will make every effort to adopt a textbook series that supports our goals, and we will add to our resources with additional works of literature and informational text that contain the higher level of text complexity.

Las Vegas City Schools believes that, as professional educators, we have unique abilities right here in our staff. With the intensive training of a few, we are able to use our own “experts” to facilitate learning experiences within the ranks. When it’s most advantageous, we bring in specialized trainers to work with large numbers of instructional personnel. Occasionally, a smaller group of instructors is chosen to attend workshops or conferences and return with the caveat that they are responsible for training others. It is this comprehensive approach to professional development that is providing the framework for a well-prepared and highly structured staff that will meet the increasing needs of our students.

The office of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction is now located in its own building on the campus of our high school. We have established the Cardinal Learning Center, dedicated to purpose of providing a place for ongoing learning for all employees in the district. In addition to the training sessions for instructional staff, we have hosted programs other departments in the district.

A list of all professional development may be viewed through this link: Professional Development Sessions – 2012-2013.

Professional Learning Communities

One of the goals of the district’s administrative team is to establish Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at each school and in all other departments of the district. Our philosophy is that we can engender a commitment to the learning continuum through cadres of professionals who explore new information and support each other regularly. PLCs examine data, hone teaching practices, and study literature that is germane to our work and goals. Moreover, we have built greater capacity for growth in all teachers through a Professional Development Plan (PDP) that includes a greater level of attention to the learning process, gathering artifacts, and meeting with the principal in order to monitor progress. This process ensures that the PDP becomes an organic commitment to professional growth rather than required paperwork from the state.

District Test Coordinator

The Director of Curriculum and Instruction acts as the District Test Coordinator for all state mandated testing including the Standards-Based Assessment (SBA) and Discovery short-cycle assessments. The director maintains communications with the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) and distributes the district calendar for all matters related to testing. Test security training is supervised through this office, and information is disseminated to all school test coordinators, principals, teachers, and other personnel who come into contact with testing materials. The regulations related to testing are supervised through the PED’s Assessments and Evaluation Bureau.

Parent Involvement

A priority of the district is the improvement of its parent involvement and public information efforts. Each school is charged with the requirement of holding two academic and two social parent events each semester. Another initiative is the inception of a weekly radio program that began in August, 2011, to educate the public about the different news and programs in the district. Guests have included principals, directors of all the departments in the district, and individuals who are associated with various topics of interest, such as school safety. Feedback from the public has been enthusiastic with requests that we continue the radio broadcasts. Future programs will feature, among others, the president of the Board and superintendent together, and students. A Parent Involvement Task Force is being formed to investigate ways of increasing parent participation and support at all levels of our schools. Teachers and administrators serve on the Task Force.

It is the goal of this office to develop a strong Parent Advisory Council so that parents will have the opportunity to share their ideas, strengths, and support for the schools. Our community has a wealth of individuals who are devoted to the education of our youth, and we invite their perspectives as we review our decisions and programs for the schools. We are committed to continually looking for better ways of involving our parents and community so that they will also be invested in the vibrancy of our school system.

Instructional Materials and Textbooks

Contacts with publishers are primarily made through the office of Curriculum and Instruction, where arrangements are made for delivery of samples to the schools, presentations of programs through the publishers’ representatives, and the adoption process itself. This year we are using a comprehensive scoring rubric [with the help of Mathematically Connected Communities (MC2)] designed to select a series of math texts at each level (elementary, middle, and high) that will most closely align with the rigors and mathematical practices of Common Core State Standards. Math teachers have the opportunity of using the rubric to ensure the highest quality of our mathematics materials. All textbook samples have been sent to each school, and another set of samples is available at our district office, for perusal and examination prior to the final adoption process.

School Calendars

The school calendar is developed with the input of the district’s Advisory Committee. A choice of three calendars is created in keeping with the requirements of the PED. These calendar options are then provided to all employees in the district who vote for the calendar of their choice. Final approval is made through a vote by the Board of Education.

This year we have instituted a new 4-day calendar to address the important professional development needs of the students. Many considerations were made in the development of the new calendar, including offering Friday disciplinary school for students who require more structure in their behavior, Friday enrichment activities, working with community entities that also provided activities for children on Fridays. Our district built a strong association with many community organizations and businesses who are committed to supporting our youth. As we progressed through the first few months of the school year we made adjustments based on the responses that we obtained.

Advisory Council

The district Advisory Council meets with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction monthly to celebrate accomplishments at their schools, raise concerns, and ask questions of the district. The Director makes every effort to obtain responses or resolutions to issues and communicate these to the school representatives, who in turn pass them on to other staff members. The Advisory Council is also charged with the task of developing the calendar for the succeeding school year.

Sick Leave Bank Committee

The district has established a Sick Leave Bank for employees who encounter severe illnesses or health issues and need more leave than they have accrued. Teachers have the choice to joining the Sick Leave Bank by donating two days of their sick leave to the bank at the beginning of any school year. The committee meets to review each case and determine whether the employee may receive the additional leave, according to the rules set out by the Sick Leave Handbook.