Berkeley Township elementary students will be greeted with a new approach to literacy education this year when they walk into school this morning.
In response to the national move to Common Core standards for education, and after collaboration with other groups to determine the best path, the district has adopted a new language arts curriculum.
At its heart is a new approach to helping students achieve literacy, called a Lexile framework. A computer-based test called the Measure of Academic Progress, evaluates each student to determine his or her ability to understand the text they are reading.
The information gathered from the test will allow teachers to help direct students to reading material that is more appropriate to the reading level of the students, according to the website www.lexile.com, and in the end help the students learn more effectively.
"It looks at fluency not comprehension," said Jeffrey Zito, principal at H&M Potter Elementary School, "how hard a text is for a child to read."
The district will be focusing on literacy education as a shared responsibility, Dyann DeClerico, the district's director of elementary education, told parents.
"Literacy begins at home," she said, and to help encourage families to take an active role in that partnership, there will be programs and events through the year to help drive that message home.
Schools Superintendent James D. Roselli introduced each building's principal and, in the process, formally announced the hiring of Kirk Burr as the new principal at Berkeley Township Elementary School. Burr has been teaching for a dozen years, 10 years within the district.
"I would have appreciated a little less baptism by fire," Burr said, referring to the mold that was discovered a week ago in the first-floor instructional wings.
Also announced was the formal promotion of Mary Guinan as principal at Bayville Elementary School, where she replaces longtime principal Arleen Lippincott, who retired over the summer. Daniel Prima remains as principal at Clara B. Worth Elementary, where he has been in charge since 2006.
Each of the schools has received new equipment, including new computers. At CBW, Prima said, the district is running a pilot program involving the use of smartboards -- whiteboards that respond to touch -- that have been shown to make it easier for special needs students to learn.
At Potter, Zito said, renovations are altering the entryway of the school to eventually usher parents and students into a vestibule if they arrive once school has started, instead of them entering a freeflowing hallway, to add a level of securty to the school.
At Bayville School, there have been a number of renovations and the school has received enough computers to create two full computer labs in addition to a mobile computer lab, Guinan said.
At BTES, Roselli said one of the biggest changes was the addition of a maintenance facility behind the school, which allows the district to have someone nearby if a bus has an issue, instead of them having to come from the facility out on Pinewald-Keswick Road, near the municipal building. That shortens response time.