West Haven is an urban district outside of New Haven with six elementary schools (PK-4), one intermediate school (grades 5-6), one middle school (grades 7-8) and one high school (grades 9-12). All schools are identified as free milk/free lunch eligible. The district level leadership consists of a superintendent, an assistant superintendent and central office coordinators who work collaboratively with building level leadership and staff to support teaching and learning in all academic areas.
West Haven School District curricula are based upon the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) and the CT Social Studies Frameworks. All District staff were trained in the development and use of the Rigorous Curriculum Design (Ainsworth, 2010). The Design is a road map for developing course content, scope and sequence, which includes common assessments, pacing guides, performance tasks/assessments and unit planners. All core curricula are aligned both vertically and horizontally within the subject/grade level areas using this process.
Curricula in all areas stress high expectations for all youngsters regardless of their needs. Core curricula instruction begins with the classroom teacher (Tier 1 instruction). Schools implement all curricula and assessments with fidelity and consistency. These characteristics of our district compounded with appropriate professional learning and resources, directly impact student achievement and help close the gap between high needs students and the general education population. The core curriculum is the blueprint for success: At the heart of every core curriculum is the expectation that all students can learn.
In West Haven, professional learning provides educators with a venue to enhance student growth, both academic and nonacademic, in alignment with district goals. It also provides them with opportunities to actively refine one's practice in a relevant, meaningful, sustainable and supportive environment, and requires that all educators reflect upon their own practice, share their knowledge through collaboration and have equitable access to professional learning opportunities.
The district has developed a multi-year plan for professional learning to address both academic and non-academic professional learning opportunities for all staff. The plan is comprehensive to ensure that all learning standards, including social emotional supports, are continually supported during professional learning time. The plan is shared with the Professional Development and Evaluation Committee, administration and teaching staff so that a common vision for continued professional learning to support student achievement is communicated to all stakeholders. Professional learning opportunities for all staff are planned in collaboration with central office leaders and school based teacher leaders. Review of data in core content areas, as well as social emotional needs, is at the forefront of devising professional learning opportunities for staff that are purposeful, meaningful and transferable to their classrooms.
Being reflective allows for the professional learning plan to be fluid and continue to evolve to ensure that the needs of all staff are supported, thus resulting in targeted instruction leading to increased student performance. Success for all students is at the heart of the professional learning plan, which integrates the district model that every student should have the opportunity to read, write, listen, speak and think during all learning activities.
West Haven Board of Education and the West Haven Federation of Teachers believe in the importance of education for the preservation and extension of our democracy. We have a common goal and mutual responsibility of providing the best education for the children of West Haven.
Collaboration between the Board of Education and the Federation of Teachers focuses on common goals of educational excellence and true professionalism, for the best interests of children, community, educational system and teachers.
West Haven provides numerous opportunities for students to gain experiences within the educational field. One example is the peer tutoring opportunities at our Middle School. In Language Arts and mathematics, students volunteer to work with their peers during core instructional time to support their learning. These peer tutors work in collaboration with classroom teachers and specialists in literacy and numeracy to design activities and engaging scenarios that allows students to gain mastery of identified skills.
In addition to our peer tutors, West Haven High School has student advocates who often visit our six elementary schools to provide instructional supports to our students in grades PK-4. Time is spent in elementary classrooms reading with students, working on literacy skills and supporting academic intervention time in literacy and numeracy.
These options allow students to participate in a teaching opportunity that provides them with an experience similar to an internship or field placement at the college level. It is the hope of the district, that by fostering such opportunities, we are able to retain future educators and have them become a part of the educational system in West Haven.
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