NEW BRITAIN â€“ Parents were given some information Thursday evening about the school districtâ€™s curriculum redesign for the 2018-2019 school year.
Next year the school district is planning on adding an increased emphasis on STEAM-related learning, focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. This is part of an effort to make students more career-ready and able to compete with students in other districts who have a more STEAM-oriented curriculum.
In May, The Herald reported that approximately 90 teachers are being transferred for the next school year, about half of those joining the STEAM team.
Superintendent Nancy Sarra held an informational session Thursday night for parents, guardians and others who wanted to learn more about the plan.
â€śWe believe that all students can achieve in New Britain,â€ť Sarra said but she noted changes are needed to help students become successful within the district.
The school district is ranked 164 out of 166 in the state when it comes to student achievement, according to metrics set by the Every Student Succeeds Act. The low ranking has spurred school officials to take action, Sarra said.
â€śAre our traditional classrooms doing all they can?â€ť Sarra asked, referring to the question she asked before moving toward the outlined changes.
The districtâ€™s coming redesign shifts the districtâ€™s current reading specialists into different positions. Sarra said this is the best way to better the education of all the districtâ€™s students.
â€śCreating a STEAM team provides students not only with enrichment but also provides remediation for students from the reading tutors weâ€™re bringing in,â€ť Sarra said.
Another big change for students in kindergarten through eighth grade is that there will no longer be half-days. The goal is to increase learning time for students, according to Sarra.
Further, the district is moving into trimesters rather than the quarter-system it currently operates in. In each trimester, elementary school students will receive one hour of electives each day - physical education for one trimester, music for one trimester and art for the last trimester.
In total, students in kindergarten through the fifth grade will have three hours of STEAM curriculum a week.
Sarra said research shows introducing students to STEAM at a young age is beneficial.
â€śThe most important thing is providing 21st century skills for our students,â€ť Sarra said.
Jen Wright, who is spearheading the curriculum redesign, said project-based learning is a good way to increase a studentâ€™s problem solving and critical thinking skills.
â€śThe project is the process,â€ť Wright said.