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Closing the performance gap

Closing the performance gap
The Hopewell Valley Regional School District administration building in Pennington.

Hopewell Valley Regional School District is hiring elementary teacher leaders to lead the charge, pauses on filling STEM facilitator positions

A pause is coming to STEM facilitator positions in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District as the administration seeks to address a student performance gap in the English Language arts and math curriculum.

The school district wants to close this performance gap by hiring elementary teacher leaders and implementing a one-year pause of the STEM facilitator positions for the upcoming 2023-24 school year.

“There has been lots of discussion about learning loss. Our students are not where they ought to be after living through a global pandemic,” Superintendent Rosetta Treece said.

The pause on the positions will allow for the school district to pay for four elementary teacher leaders focused on supporting teachers in the math and science and ELA (English Language Arts_ curriculum at Bear Tavern Elementary, Toll Gate Grammar School, Bear Tavern Elementary, and Stony Brook Elementary.

“Individuals in the new Elementary Teacher Leader roles will support literacy across subject areas, technology integration, and best instructional practices in Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science,” Treece said.

These teacher leaders are going to be instructional coaches and aid teachers in classroom practices, according to the district administration.

The school district is unable to afford both the elementary teacher leader positions and STEM Facilitators at the same time, which is the reason for the pause on the STEM positions.

However, the school community that the district is “committed to bringing back the role of STEM Facilitator,” Treece said in a statement.

There will be a literacy teacher leader for pre-K to second grade, and a literacy teacher leader for third grade through fifth grade, who will work with the district supervisor of ELA and social studies K-12 supervisor to support development in those areas.

Additionally, there will be two teacher leaders for math, science, and technology. One will be for pre-Kindergarten to second grade and the other for third grade through fifth grade. They will work with the school district director of STEM.

The elementary school teacher leaders will make certain the district is implementing the curriculum consistently across the schools; coordinate, develop, and facilitate professional development opportunities for best practices; provide instructional coaching.

In addition to evaluating and revising curriculum materials during the course of the year if needed; and supporting the data warehousing and communication to the teachers and packaging it.

For the upcoming school year, a new elementary level master schedule will be created.

This new schedule for blocks of time in core subject areas, time for remediation and enrichment for gifted and talented students, and time for exploratory subject areas, such as Spanish, STEM, and Art, according to the district administration.

“Currently, this consistency does not exist in our student’s exposure to STEM at the elementary level across the district, and STEM experience variety from building to building,” Treece said. “This new structure will ensure that every student experiences the same STEM programming, regardless of their elementary grade level or the school they attend.”

At a Board of Education (BOE) meeting in April, the district administration had informed the school board and public that there had already been personnel changes occurring with the STEM Facilitator positions as some requested transfers and people were leaving.

Treece’s statement this month did not go into the specifics of how faculty and staff are placed based on transfer requests, a succession of leadership plans and the needs of students.

“As the community does not and cannot know all of the rational to maintain employee autonomy, these are not collaborative discussions,” Treece added. “We value your feedback and voice, however, there will be times when we make changes that are difficult.”