At the August 31 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent David Quattrone and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mara Koetke presented an overview of student learning results and how the district looks at levels, comparisons,and patterns:
High student achievement stands at the center of our work, and last year, after a faculty analysis of what our students are able to do, we reframed our vision of academic excellence as the Bronxville Promise. The Promise connects knowledge and skills to four enduring dispositions: innovation, leadership, critical thinking, and engaged citizenship. We believe these dispositions equip our students to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, complex world.
The Board of Education has embraced the Bronxville Promise and established district goals in order to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop the four dispositions. These goals are organized around instruction, curriculum, assessment, and technology.
High quality instruction requires us to identify specific learning needs and engage students in activities tailored to meet the varying needs of individual students. We begin with the levels, patterns, and comparisons revealed by standardized tests and other forms of assessment. Bronxville test results remain well above state and county norms and are consistent with the results in other high performing districts. Yet the Common Core represents higher standards, and we see plenty of room for growth, especially in areas closely related to students' ability to analyze complex texts and solve ill-structured problems. These are the areas most closely connected to our four dispositions, and our teachers are careful and thoughtful as they analyze the data and modify lessons accordingly.
Aligning our curriculum to these higher standards and new expectations will take time. For example, we began phasing in Singapore mathematics three years ago, but full K-12 implementation is still years away. Immediate priorities include more rigorous attention to complexity of reading materials, additional opportunities for extended analysis and writing, and consistent forms of assessment. Reflecting a commitment to innovation and improvement, our teachers are redesigning units of study around the state's newly adopted social studies standards and preparing for the anticipated Next Generation Science Standards that place more emphasis on measurement and physical science, especially in the early years.
We believe that achieving the Bronxville Promise calls for more student choice and greater depth in our course of study. To this end we have added new courses at the Middle and High Schools, and we have promoted independent study and WISE internships. This past year, 46 high school students designed independent study projects, and 48 students participated in the WISE programs. These experiences ask students to take more responsibility for their own learning and to reflect on their work.
The district's assessment goal poses the question of how do we know our students are making progress toward the Bronxville Promise. While required state assessments and AP exams give us helpful benchmarks, a balanced, comprehensive assessment framework uses multiple measures and gathers both quantitative and qualitative data. To this end, in partnership with the EdLeader21 organization, we are piloting the use of assessment criteria around communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. We are also working with the Teacher's College Writing Program, considered the gold standard of professional development and assessment in this area. We are also developing survey instruments to help us understand the breadth and depth of support for the Bronxville Promise across all constituencies. Along the way, we will continue the use of classroom walkthroughs, action research, and focus groups for the purposes of formative evaluation.
Thanks to the ongoing support of the Bronxville School Foundation, the district has made great strides in using technology to enhance learning. The wireless infrastructure is up-to-date and covers the entire building. We have increased the number of portable devices, Chromebooks in particular. The LHRIC's Emerging Technologies program shepherded our conversion to a Google environment, and training in these applications touched the entire faculty. These developments led to Board support for a new senior technology position, and we have reconfigured district reconfigured network services and hired a director of technology now on staff. Indicators of rapid progress in this area include the Elementary School's participation in the Model Schools program, developing technology-enhanced units at all grade levels; a redesigned computer lab and new robotics program at the Middle School; and three reconfigured classrooms at the High School, designed to facilitate innovative teaching practices using technology. This coming year the High School has 48 students enrolled in AP Computer Science and 33 in Introduction to Computer Programming. The comparable number two years ago was 13.