Letter from the Superintendent
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The purpose of this letter is to provide you with an update of the New York State Education Department’s testing program, which is built upon the Common Core State Standards.
Our students in Grades 3-8 will be taking the NYS English Language Arts Tests on Tuesday, March 28th to Thursday, March 30th and the NYS Mathematics Tests on Tuesday, May 2nd to Thursday, May 4th. Similar to last year, incorporated into this year’s tests are changes based on information the State Education Department collected from students, parents and educators. Specifically,
- ELA and Math Tests have fewer questions.
- All of the tests are untimed.
- 2017 tests were developed with greater teacher involvement.
- The tests have no official evaluation consequences for educators.
- See: Link to 2017 Grades 3-8 New York State Assessments - What Parents Need to Know (English)
- See: Link to 2017 Grades 3-8 New York State Assessments - What Parents Need to Know (translated for parents into 10 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Karen, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu).
We encourage all students to gain valuable test-taking experiences. Your child’s performance on the State’s assessments provides a valuable opportunity for parents and schools to see the level to which students are learning the more demanding content of the new curriculum, as they move from grade to grade.
The best test preparation that parents can provide is to help each child feel positive and confident about what they have learned thus far, motivated to try his/her very best, be well rested during each day of testing – and know that they are gaining experiences in test taking.
Please feel free to speak with your child’s teacher about any questions or concerns you may have.
Thank you for your understanding and assistance.
Mark S. McNeill
Beginning next school year students will experience 55 minutes or more in each core subject area across grades K-12. Our elementary schools have benefited from longer learning periods and we are pleased to implement longer periods for Grades 7-12 as well. The tenets of our Mission Statement underscore the importance of allowing teachers and students to engage and explore the curriculum for longer periods of time each day.
As with all changes, there will be multiple opportunities to answer questions and clarify the nuances of next year’s High School schedule. Below is a comprehensive FAQ list to help explain the change.
Nanuet Senior High School
New Schedule FAQ’s
Q1: What are the significant differences in the new schedule?
A: The significant differences in the new schedule are:
- Longer learning periods
- Rotating schedule
- Common school lunch
_________________LONGER LEARNING PERIODS ________________________
Q2: How long will classes be?
A: Class periods will be 55 minutes in length, including lunch.
Q3: Why increase the instructional minutes of each class?
A: The extended time in class will provide further opportunities to increase the use of various student-centered instructional styles (e.g., cooperative and small group learning, hands-on projects, project-based learning, and experiential performances). Longer periods will also offer a platform for deeper understanding of concepts and will provide more opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving. Assessing creativity, collaboration, effective communication, and innovation are the primary beliefs of our district mission. We are confident we will be more successful in enriching growth in these areas when afforded longer time with our students.
Q4: What are the advantages to longer learning periods:
A: The Present schedule is 41 minute periods x 180 days = 7,380 instructional minutes.
The New Schedule is 55 minute periods x 135 days = 7,425 instructional minutes.
The advantages to the increase in time to 55 minute periods are:
- More time for research, reports, debriefings, closure, and other active learning strategies and performance
- Assessments with time for practice and application
- More time for content depth and higher level learning activities
- Increased time for staff to design authentic assessment (PLC)
- Less fragmentation of instruction and more time on task
- 55 minutes aligns with our Nanuet K-8 classroom experience
Q5: Have students experienced longer periods while attending The Nanuet Union Free School District?
A: Yes, students experience long learning periods (55-90 min) throughout elementary and middle levels. The Nanuet Senior High School is now aligning with this instructional environment.
Q6: What will the daily rotation of periods look like?
A: Each day, 6 academic periods (3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, surrounding a “Common Lunch”) are scheduled. One AM class and one PM class does not meet daily.
Q7: Will we maintain the same number of instructional minutes per class over the course of an instructional year?
A: Yes, all classes will meet over the same instructional minutes as our present schedule.
The Present schedule is 41 minute periods x 180 = 7,380 instructional minutes.
The New Schedule is 55 minute periods x 135 = 7,425 instructional minutes.
Q8: Will there be parent information sessions to explain the new schedule?
A: Yes, we will announce multiple community information workshops.
Q9: Will my child lose continuity of instruction if their class doesn’t meet everyday?
A: Through longer periods our teachers have more time to review previous concepts, check for understandings, and assess practice. Students and teachers use collaborative digital software to communicate and hand in assignments. We believe this will improve continuity of curriculum in the long run and will help students adapt to the changing educational environment.
Q10: What are the advantages of rotation with drop of classes?
A: The advantages of rotation with drop of classes are:
- Time of day impacts learning (For example Day 1 - Math is 1st period, Day 2 Math is 2nd period, Day 3 Math is 3rd period and Day 1 – Science is 5th period, Day 2- Science is 6th period, Day 3 – Science is 7th period.)
- Instructional process has fewer disruptions – fewer passing times:
2 in the AM and 2 in the PM
- Day is less frenetic for students and staff
- Rotation of classes for a more interesting day (less routine)
- Less stress for students – not all subjects each day
- Mirrors a collegiate experience
_________________COMMON LUNCH ________________________
Q11: What is Common Lunch?
A: Common Lunch is when the entire school eats lunch at the same time. Both students and staff will share their lunchtime during 4th period, which evenly splits the morning and afternoon classes.
Q12: Why Common Lunch?
A: Common lunch is a 55 minute period in which all students will eat at the same time. Students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. They will have the opportunity to eat, relax, exercise, and connect with friends. We have explored other local schools (Pascack Valley, Nyack, and Suffern) that have implemented common lunch and received positive feedback from their administration, students, and staff.
Q13: What are the advantages of Common Lunch:
A: The advantages of Common Lunch are:
- Builds a sense of community
- Students can use lunch time for library usage
- Provides peer counseling opportunities
- Students have more access to guidance programs
- Students can use time to get extra help
- Students with after school responsibilities can become more involved in clubs/activities
- More small group support opportunities
Q14: Will there be enough serving lines and seating for everyone during the Common Lunch?
A: Yes – Students will be able to purchase lunch at multiple stations in the cafeteria as well as new kiosks located in the building. Additionally, we are adding new tables to accommodate student seating. Students will be able to sit in all common areas on the first and second floors.
Q15: Will Common Lunch be monitored by staff?
A: Yes – Similar to our current format, teachers will still monitor and support students during lunch time. Additionally, Common Lunch gives teachers the ability to eat with students, run clubs, provide “learning lunches”, or just connect with students throughout the building. School administration will walk the school during this period as well.
Q16: When will clubs meet? What time will sports practices start?
A: Club meetings will take place during Common Lunch. Sports practices will begin at the same time as our current schedule.
Q17: Will students be permitted to leave during the Common Lunch period?
A: As with our present schedule, only seniors have the privilege of utilizing the local stores and restaurants during lunch. All other students must remain on campus during the Common Lunch.
Q18: Will the start time and end time of the school day change?
A: No, all schools will continue with their current schedules.
Q19: What happens if school is closed due to inclement weather?
A: If school is closed due to inclement weather, we will resume the schedule with the next scheduled day of the rotation that was planned. For example, if Tuesday is scheduled to be a “Day 2” and we are closed due to inclement weather, Wednesday would then become a “Day 3”.
Q20: What are some of the benefits of the new schedule over the current traditional schedule?
A: The new schedule offers the following benefits:
- Greater flexibility
- The new schedule allows for more varied use of time in order to meet the requirements of the curriculum
- The new schedule allows for an improved process to monitor each student’s learning on an ongoing basis and a systematic plan of intervention that provides a struggling student with additional time and support for learning
- In the new schedule embedded support opportunities will be made available for remediation (RTI) and enrichment support (AP class labs, Language labs, ESL labs)
Q21: How is the new schedule similar to the current schedule?
- In the current schedule all students take, on average, 7 courses and 1 lunch each day.
- In the NEW schedule all students take, on average, 7 courses and 1 lunch each day.
Dr. Mark S. Mcneill
Dr. McNeill has been serving as Superintendent of Schools since January, 1993. His career in Nanuet started in 1983 serving under Superintendent Dr. Laura Fliegner, as Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, with the primary responsibility for overseeing the District's special education programs. In 1986, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent, serving under Superintendent Dr. David Rightmyer, who retired toward the end of 1992. Dr. McNeill came to Nanuet following a number of years teaching in the field of special education. He received a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Masters in Education from American International College, and a Masters and Doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.