Plans are also under way to support the use of these new maps as planning tools. All too often, curriculum documents are developed and end up sitting on a shelf. In Salem, our goal is to provide teams of teachers with time to meet and collaborate about how best to implement the new standards. Educators need time to “unpack” exactly what the new standards mean and their implications for teaching and learning.
Another area of focus is ensuring that, as the literacy standards are taught, students successfully learn them. To help monitor student learning, the district has made a significant investment in an interim assessment system that will help each school gauge how students are progressing toward learning the literacy standards. The interim assessments are aligned to the Common Core literacy standards and are administered four times during the school year. Teachers review the results from the assessments to determine what students have learned and if any students require further help in learning certain concepts and content. This data provides teachers with important information that they use to guide reteaching and planning of future lessons. The interim assessments help teachers ensure that students have learned important content before they move on to teaching the next unit.
Integrating the new Common Core literacy standards into practice is an enormous undertaking, and the Salem Public Schools are committed to providing educators with targeted professional learning experiences to support the transition to the new standards. Already, many teachers have been participating in two important literacy training initiatives — Keys to Literacy and Laying the Foundation. Both of these training opportunities focus on strengthening teachers’ capacity to improve student comprehension. In order to build upon and enhance these early training opportunities, the district will construct a professional development plan that articulates a coordinated set of supports focused on early and adolescent literacy.