School officially begins Thursday, Sept. 6 in Secaucus, marking an end to the summer season and the beginning of an academic year that will bring new computers into the high school, an iPad for every teacher in the middle school, and curriculum updates.
Clarendon, Huber Street, the Middle School and High School all open for one session on Sept. 6 and 7. On the first one-session days, the elementary schools open from 8:20 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. while the middle and high schools open from 7:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. The regular schedule for the school district begins Monday, Sept. 10.
The Pre-Kindergarten program will begin Monday, Sept. 17. Students will attend one hour sessions Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 17, 18, and 19. Morning classes are held from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Afternoon classes are held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Regular hours begin Thursday, Sept. 20. During the regular session the Pre-Kindergarten meets from 8:30 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. and the afternoon session meets from 12:10 p.m. to 2:35 p.m.
New computers, eReaders, and Ipads
Students will return to school in September with a number of new tools at their disposal to support their learning. The school district has invested in a number of technology upgrades, including two new computer labs in the Business and Technology department at the high school. The labs have been equipped with approximately 60 new personal computers with large LCD monitors and new printers. Several classrooms also have larger, energy-efficient monitors.
“We are hoping to continue to have a greater use of technology in use while making it more portable and user-friendly.” – Robert Presuto
“The teachers and especially the students absolutely love them,” said Robert Presuto, director of educational technology, data assessment, and grants about the eReaders.
Middle School Principal Rob Daniello purchased an iPad for every teacher in his building, which will be used in the classrooms for both instruction and professional development.
“We are hoping to continue to have a greater use of technology in use while making it more portable and user-friendly,” noted Presuto.
The district will implement a new student information system called Realtime that integrates several databases into one, including the database used by the Special Education department. Realtime can also be used on the iPad devices.
Prepping for future standardized tests
All of the computers in the district have been upgraded with additional memory and received a “tune up” in anticipation of new standardized test exams that will be implemented in less than two years. The district will replace the state’s current New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJKASK) and High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. The move is in coordination with a statewide shift to the new test led by the New Jersey Department of Education.
“It’s very important that the existing technology meets the state’s standards in order for us to smoothly migrate to this new format for testing,” said Presuto.
Online evaluation tools
Secaucus, as one of ten schools selected in the state, is in its second year of the Excellent Educators for New Jersey Teacher Evaluation (EE4NJ) program.
“This year every school district in New Jersey has to have one school engage in using a recognized evaluation framework,” said Presuto. He noted that the school district is ahead of the curve because they use the Danielson framework and an online performance management system called Teachscape to store the results.
In accordance with EE4NJ, the district is developing student portfolios that serve as an alternative method to assess students. The portfolios include student work that indicates their knowledge of the standards.
A core group of teachers have been trained throughout the summer by Dr. Allan De Fina of NJCU in the portfolio assessment process.
“We have also spent the summer aligning all of our curriculum to the new Common Core Standards,” said Supertintendent of Schools Cynthia Randina. The national standards provide an educational framework for areas such as Mathematics and Language Arts Literacy.
Randina added that the district also spent time developing bench mark assessments in all state tested and non tested grades and content areas.
The school district has also filled a number of vacancies this summer and will continue to fill a few remaining positions. The new hires will likely be announced at the next school board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 30.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.