2014-2015 Calendar…

Dear HTS Community:

At the Board of Education meeting last night, the Board approved the 2014-2015 school calendar. The school year begins for staff on Tuesday, September 2nd and begins for students on Thursday, September 4th. The calendar, which consists of 180 days for pupils and 184 days for staff, will be posted on our website. Emergency days (snow days) are listed in priority order at the bottom of the calendar. Moreover, the PARCC (Partnership of Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers) testing dates are listed as well.

The Board also revised Policy 5200 – Attendance. The new policy states that, “A pupil must be in attendance for 165 or more school days in order to be considered to have successfully completed the instructional program requirements for the grade/course to which he/she is assigned.” The new policy demonstrates the Board’s full commitment to our students, our staff, and the instructional process. This policy will also be posted on our website. Please note: Policy 5200 takes effect in September 2014.

If you have any questions about these issues, please contact me at HTS.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

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A Walk in the PARCC…

Dear HTS Community:

About a month from now (May 5-15) HTS students in grades 3-8, for the final time, will complete the *NJASK in Math and English Language Arts (ELA). Once completed (makeups/week of May 19), we will fully transition towards preparing our students for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). These online assessments will test students in Math and ELA on two separate occasions next spring. The Performance Based Assessments (PBA) component of the PARCC will be administered between March 2-27, 2015 and the End of Year (EOY) component of the PARCC will be administered between April 27 and May 22, 2015. The PARCC promises to be the most challenging standardized assessment our children have ever completed.

Recently, Pearson (parent company of the PARCC) posted performance level descriptors (PLD) for different grades and subjects. “These PLDs further articulate the knowledge, skills, and practices that students performing at a given level should be able to demonstrate in each content area at each grade level. The grade- and subject-specific PLDs…communicate expectations to educators about what types of performance will be necessary in grades 3-8 for students to demonstrate that they are academically prepared to engage successfully in further studies in each content area”

The PARCC is being field tested in multiple districts (including grade 5 at HTS) in multiple states this spring and Pearson will use this data to refine the PARCC that will be administered next spring. The Commonwealth of Kentucky (2012) and New York State (2013) have already taken assessments similar to the PARCC and both states have seen their students’ scores drop by approximately 30%! Please be assured that we are committed to excellence at HTS and are working diligently towards avoiding this “testing cliff.” Nonetheless, it would be helpful for parents to review the PLDs for English Language Arts as well as for Math (below) just to get a general sense of the what the future will hold for the staff and students of HTS.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact us at HTS.

ELA – http://www.parcconline.org/ela-plds

Math – http://www.parcconline.org/math-plds

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

* Science will continue to be tested in grades 4 and 8.

Yet Another HTEF Grant…

Dear HTS Community:

Last night at the monthly Harding Township Education Foundation (HTEF) meeting, the Foundation approved a grant to retrofit existing SmartBoards presently in the middle school. This grant, estimated at $45,000, enables the school district to continue to upgrade our technology and remain on the cutting edge of pedagogical practices in our highly competitive peer group.The equipment will be ordered this spring, installed in the summer and will be ready for staff and students on the first day of school. On behalf of the staff and students, please join me in thanking the HTEF and all of their benefactors for their commitment and support. Ultimately, our children are the ones who benefit.

Lastly, the HTEF is making one final push towards completion of their Buy a Brick campaign. Attached is the flyer with pertinent information. We hope all our former and current parents purchase one or more bricks to support this initiative. The brick walkway will be outside the middle school main office for all to see. Come buy a brick and secure a preferred placement on the walkway! The deadline is Saturday, May 10 – for more information, please contact Dr. Howard Kotkin 732-261-2643.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone