Each month, Baldwinsville Central School District Superintendent Matt McDonald hosts an informal community meeting at the Baldwinsville Public Library. Coffee and Conversation gives parents and community members a chance to speak candidly with the superintendent.
Visit bit.ly/BCSDcoffee for the full schedule.
A district administrator presents on a different topic at each session. Tony Cardamone, director of elementary curriculum and instruction, gave parents an overview of the district’s curriculum goals at the Nov. 9 Coffee and Conversation.
Afterward, Cardamone and McDonald fielded questions from the public. Read on:
While there is less of a use for pen and paper in the digital age, the district still teaches basic printed handwriting in kindergarten, first and second grade. Cursive is introduced at the end of second grade.
“Kids want to learn it,” Cardamone said.
The district encourages kids to work on their handwriting, but cursive is no longer required for assignments.
“We would never say in fourth grade, ‘You need to hand in this assignment in cursive,’” Cardamone said.
Cardamone said the traditional weekly Friday spelling quiz no longer works, as students will just memorize for the test and then forget the words. “We embed it in the teaching of writing,” he said.
Many parents had questions about RTI, the district’s tiered approach to identifying and helping students with learning difficulties:
RTI instructors are not the same as teachers. “They are teaching assistants who are designated to help with math and ELA,” Superintendent McDonald said.
McDonald said his goal is to hire more certified math and reading instructors. He would like to achieve this through attrition — hiring instructors as other teachers retire — rather than having to lay off current employees.
“I don’t want to put anybody in the unemployment line,” he said.
Each elementary school in B’ville has two RTI reading teachers and one teaching assistant, and the district has one RTI math specialist.
“Fair isn’t always equal,” McDonald said, noting that some schools may need more reading instructors, while others need more help in math.
“You have to make sure your core instruction is in place. Before you go and fix RTI, [start] with Tier 1,” Cardamone said. “If that’s in place, hopefully there will be [fewer] kids in RTI.”
McDonald and Cardamone acknowledged that RTI is not perfect, and change will not come overnight, but the district is working on it.
“We are great, don’t get me wrong, but we could be better,” McDonald said. “I understand that doesn’t help you as we sit here right now.”
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.
Dec 10, 2017
Dec 09, 2017