Sunday, January 17, 2010

Letter to the Hoboken Reporter

On Saturday, January 16, 2010 The Hoboken Reporter published a letter to the editor by me commenting on the recent unanimous passing by the Hoboken Board of Education on a new curriculum. There were some needed edits in the original draft and the version below is the actual final version submitted. Again, thanks to the entire Hoboken Curriculum Committee for an incredible job. Cheers, -Dr. Petrosino

On Tuesday, December 15, 2009 the Hoboken Board of Education unanimously approved a new curriculum. As the Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools from 2007-2009, I am honored to have led the district in this effort and in bringing the first fully articulated curriculum to the children and teachers of Hoboken in recent memory.

I would like to thank the Hoboken Curriculum Committee and the district’s support staff. The time and effort they spent on this effort took them away from their children, spouses, loved ones and took up more weekends and leisure time than any hourly contractual compensation could approach.

Working with about 80 district teachers, supervisors and administrators as well as outside experts, we completed this project in a little over 18 months. The cost was less than 3/10 of 1% of the combined budgets for Fiscal Years 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-2010. Moreover, a non-trivial portion of those funds came from federal and state programs thus lessening the cost to Hoboken taxpayers. For that, the children of Hoboken received a complete PK-12 curriculum including grade level curriculum maps, unit planners, and district wide assessments. The teachers involved received over 8500 professional development hours in curriculum theory, formative and summative assessment, design and implementation of standards based curriculum, learning theory, developmental psychology, and content specific instructional practices.

As part of the overall Instruction and Programs process, we instituted a series of initiatives and expansions of previous efforts. For instance, we expanded the John Hopkins Gifted and Talented Program, nearly tripling the participation of students. We initiated the nationally recognized and research based PK-K curriculum known as "Tools of the Mind." We began long term institutional professional development in literacy with LitLife (Grades 1-5) and in how to teach for problem solving and critical thinking with the widely recognized program, "Understanding by Design". We instituted the Read 180 program leveraging both technology and phonemic awareness with whole language skills for our students in need of reading improvement. We also instituted quarterly computer generated reading progress reports for all of our middle grade students using the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI).

None of this would have been possible without the support of former Superintendent Raslowsky. Using the most objective and independent State mandated assessment of district oversight- the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC)- during his tenure he increased NJQSAC district scores 58.8% in Instruction and Programs, 70.5% in Fiscal Management, 100% in Governance and maintained 80% passing scores in Operations and Personnel.

Finally, it should be noted that the initiatives above took place “BC” (Before Interim Superintendent Carter’s administration which began in September of 2009). Implementation integrity and fine-tuning of the curriculum as well as support for existing programs and for new initiatives rest fully in the current and succeeding superintendent’s hands. I wish them all the best.

Dr. Anthony Petrosino Jr.

Former Assistant to the Superintendent

Hoboken School District