Sent via SchoolMessenger on August 20, 2021
Dear South Orangetown Families and Community Members,
Over the past few months, a number of our parents and community members have expressed interest in learning more about our District’s curriculum.
In alignment with our mission and values, our District’s programming, services and continuous improvement process focus on our students’ academic growth and achievement, social emotional wellbeing, and college and career readiness, and on ensuring equitable access for all. Our goal is to elevate, engage and inspire all of our nearly 3,000 K-12 students to achieve their fullest potential.
To support parent engagement and a strong home-school connection, a number of resources were developed and posted on our District website starting in 2016, including:
- K-12 Curriculum Maps, which are regularly updated and in the process of being expanded to include Art, Character Education, Music, Physical Education and Technology. Links to Curriculum Maps can be found under Quick Links on every school homepage, as well as on the Curriculum & Instruction homepage.
- K-5 Character Education webpages, which are posted under Quick Links on the William O. Schaefer Elementary School and Cottage Lane Elementary School homepages. Resources are typically posted at the beginning of each month for that month’s theme and remain posted for the duration of the school year. Information regarding Character Education programming is also shared via school social media and parent communications.
- Curriculum-related videos, which are posted on the Curriculum & Instruction homepage and are shared via SchoolMessenger e-blast and social media to provide information about our pedagogical practices.
Consistent with all New York State public school districts, our curriculum and instructional approaches have developed over the years to adapt to changing New York State Education Department (NYSED) standards and evidence-based best practices. Over the past decade, NYSED has adopted a number of new standards and frameworks, such as the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for ELA (2011), P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for Math (2011), K-12 Social Studies Framework (2014), Revised K-12 Social Studies Framework (2016-17), Next Generation ELA Learning Standards (2017), Next Generation Mathematics Learning Standards (2017), Next Generation Science Learning Standards (2017), the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework (2018), Mental Health Education Literacy in Schools (2018), Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks (2018) and the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Implementation Roadmap (2021). Critical Race Theory is not a school district curriculum, nor is it part of the NYSED standards.
Our District’s investment in professional development and data-informed decision making, as well as participation in external review processes such as the Tri-States Consortium and National Forum to Advance Middle-Grades Reform, has facilitated continual assessment and improvement of curriculum, instructional and operational practices and alignment with standards and frameworks. Internally, our administrators, instructional coaches, team leaders, content area leadership teams and staff conduct “crosswalks” to compare our current curricula with new NYSED requirements.
Often we find that our District is already working to address items described in the “new” standards, such as ensuring equal access to skills acquisition for increasingly diverse learner populations and for students with disabilities; teaching history from multiple perspectives; ensuring that our libraries are stocked with books that represent different cultures, backgrounds and authors; providing character education that promotes an inclusive school environment by emphasizing empathy and inclusion; and recruiting and retaining a diverse staff. However, our District remains committed to strengthening and improving our programs, services and operations in support of our mission and in compliance with NYSED directives.
Thank you for your continued partnership. We look forward to welcoming all of our students back to school in-person on Thursday, September 9.
Robert R. Pritchard, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools