Our Curriculum Philosophy
The mission statement of the Stafford Township School District clearly identifies the specific goals of our educational community. It has been developed based on the belief that all students can learn and that the school community is obligated to ensure that they do. Therefore, the primary focus of all curriculum design and instructional implementation is directed towards the achievement of these goals. Each content area curriculum reflects the needs and values of the community, draws on research about how children learn, and integrates the core curriculum content standards established by the state. A common core of learning has been identified for each area providing all students with the knowledge, skills, and understandings that will help each student function effectively in a global society.
Effective instructional practices are essential to accomplishing the district’s mission and a variety of programs, materials and approaches are utilized to meet the diversified needs of all students. Promoting language arts literacy competence is the principal focus of instruction and it is hoped that all students will be able to read fluently on level before the beginning of third grade. To ensure that this goal is attained, numerous intervention programs have been implemented. Reading Recovery is a program that provides intense one-on-one instruction to first grade students in need and our Building -Based Reading Challenges encourage the love of reading, which has a direct, positive, influence on reading quality. Available in each of the primary buildings as well are Home/School Liaisons, child advocates, whose job it is to improve communication between the home and the school in an effort to enhance the opportunities for student success. These liaisons also plan and schedule parent meetings, training opportunities, and instruction.
In grades 4-6 the emphasis switches from learning to read to reading to learn. Comprehension strategies are taught so that all students can learn how to make sense of difficult text. Critical thinking and problem-solving strategies are emphasized. Content areas once integrated into language arts instruction now stand alone and essential learning in the areas of Social Studies, Science and Health are included in daily instruction.
Teacher Leader Facilitators (TLF's) are available to assist teachers with both instruction and resources. They also work to ensure that staff has adequate opportunity to share ideas. Our TLF's are expert, experienced teachers who work collaboratively and cooperatively with building staff to facilitate the delivery of classroom instruction. They are available to work with individual or small groups of students as needed.
However, the Stafford Township School District understands that no matter how wonderful and diversified the district offerings, the single best predictor of student success is an effective teacher. Since effective teachers have the most significant influence on student achievement, a comprehensive and need specific professional development plan has been designed for implementation. This plan is updated annually and modified as needed to ensure that all district staff are adequately prepared for the daunting task of ensuring that all students learn. Believing that promoting and enhancing the expertise of the professional staff has direct influence on student progress, the teaching staff in collaboration with the administration has developed a detailed professional development plan that ensures that opportunities are systemic and meet the needs of a diversified staff.
In the Stafford Township School District assessment is viewed as an integral part of an effective instructional program. All students in grades 3-6 are required to take the state-mandated test, NJ-ASK each year. Results are used to determine if goals have been achieved and expectations have been met. The data is used to help improve the overall school program. In addition, a variety of testing tools are utilized to assess student performance as noted in the district’s assessment plan. Formal standardized assessment begins in second grade. However, assessment procedures have been clearly delineated at every grade level. All teachers conduct pre and post assessments that effectively clarify what needs to be taught and how well students have progressed. Results from the pre tests allow teachers to identify learning outcomes that have already been mastered and by whom and the results from the post tests can better recognize individual student improvement. In addition, since academic expectations have increased, it is now necessary to assess not only the ability to recite new learning but the ability to use the new learning as well. Portfolios, anecdotal records, and learning logs record teacher observations and evaluations of how well students can apply the new learning. The district’s report cards are currently being revised to more effectively and accurately describe each student’s achievement.
Most importantly, parental partnerships are considered crucial to the district’s continued success. Our Home/School liaisons (HSL's) help to build bridges between the home and the school. In addition, frequent opportunities are scheduled to discuss all instructional programs and events and schedules of these meeting dates can be found on the district-wide calendar.
The Stafford Township School District is committed to providing an instructional framework that provides numerous and diversified opportunities for all students to experience academic success