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School Board Approves New and Revised Curricula

by on June 27, 2018 2:28 PM

State College Area School Board on Monday approved the adoption of new elementary STEM and guidance curricula and a revised elementary math curriculum.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) was added as a weekly course as part of the extended elementary school day approved in December 2017 to begin in the fall of 2018. With additional instruction time added, the district received community input on a new special subject before deciding on STEM.

The STEM curriculum was developed by a committee with the assistance of Christine Cunningham, vice president of the Museum of Science, Boston and founder of the Engineering is Elementary project, as well as several Penn State faculty members. EiE “integrates engineering concepts into preschool, elementary, and middle school curriculum and teacher professional development.”

The curriculum follows Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are the basis for the district's K-12 science curriculum. International Science for Technology Education (ISTE) standards were used to align the STEM course to general classroom lessons.

K-5 STEM also has been developed to align with the 6-12 technology education program.

"State College Area School District is on the precipice of empowered experiences for our students that will serve them well as they transition to our middle, high school, and beyond," Vernon Bock, assistant superintendent for elementary education, and Deirdre Bauer, director of curriculum, wrote in a memo. "STEM is not just a collaboration around multiple disciplines; it is a way of thinking through the design process that transcends all fields. Our students are very fortunate to have these experiences as they consider what is next for them in their lives."

SCASD plans to hold STEM nights at the elementary schools to discuss goals of the program with parents.

The revised math curriculum, meanwhile, is the result of a two-year comprehensive review of potential new math resources for the district's elementary schools. A committee ultimately selected "Bridges in Mathematics," published by the Math Learning Center, based on evaluation of content and instruction, assessment, teacher support, and home school connections.

The program was approved by the board in February and the math curriculum was subsequently revised.

“In order to ensure alignment between curriculum and resource, the math committee revised the K-12 math scope and sequence and units to reflect the units in Bridges,” a recommendation stated. “Providing teachers with a curriculum document that is aligned with the approved core resource will ensure a coherent experience for students and provide a seamless instructional planning process for teachers.”

Following research and completion of writing counseling curriculum in 2017-18, district counselors, a team from Penn State and a Counselor Advisory Council made up of district staff, parents, students and community members identified resources aligned with the district's scope and sequence for counseling as well as American School Counselor Association standards.

They recommended SecondSTEP, published by Committee for Children, as the elementary counseling resource. 

"The counselors took into consideration how the curriculums aligned with the ASCA National Standards, the Career, Education and Work Standards and how well the curriculum aligned or supported implementation with School Wide Positive Behavior and Supports in addition to Restorative Practices," a recommendation stated.

A comprehensive implementation plan now will be developed, including professional development and an action plan for instructional implementation, as well as pre- and post- data analysis for social emotional learning and bullying prevention.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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