WEST HARTFORD -- After more than a year of preparation, teachers at West Hartford schools have begun to implement new curricula that has been developed to help students meet common core standards, according to Eileen Howley, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment.
At Tuesday's school board meeting ? the first of the school year ? Howley said professional and curriculum development were "on overdrive" over the past year and a half to ready teachers for changes to the English and mathematics plans.
"We've fully embraced the new common core state standards," Howley said. The state board of education in July 2010 adopted the national standards for English language arts and mathematics, and students will be assessed based on the standards beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.
More than 50 curriculum specialists, department supervisors and teachers have worked to write the new curricula over the past year, Howley said.
"The standards are meant to be more rigorous," Howley said. There is an emphasis on writing across disciplines -- in social studies and science as well as English classes, for example -- and a deeper understanding of math concepts.
Teachers in kindergarten, second and fourth grades are teaching the new English language arts curriculum this year, and teachers in grades 1, 3 and 5 are teaching the new math program, according to Howley. Next year, new English units will be introduced to first- third- and fifth-graders and the new math curriculum will roll out to kindergarten, second and fourth grades.
New units across both disciplines were also introduced this year in sixth through 10th grade.
"We have a plan for the whole year to help teachers adopt and implement this curriculum," Howley said on Wednesday. "We're confident that our teachers will help make these curriculum documents come alive."
The district is also working to develop a new Educator Evaluation Program based on new state requirements.
Other school officials provided first-day updates to the school board on Tuesday.
Work to install hardware for WiFi access in all schools began on Tuesday, according to Thomas Moore, assistant superintendent for administration. The work should be completed by the spring semester, he said.
Also, though official enrollment figures won't be available until October, enrollments on the first day of school were close to projections, according to Chip Ward, director of finance and planning.
"Everything looks in line to expectations," he said.