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Edgemont Looks to Improve Science Education

EDGEMONT, N.Y. – School district administrators in Edgemont say a periodic evaluation of the science department has revealed many positives but also a few areas needing improvement.

On Tuesday, the district released a recently completed review of its science curriculum in grades 5-12 by the Tri-State Consortium, an independent group of educators who periodically evaluate high-performing school districts.

The consortium's report praised Edgemont in dozens of areas, including student interaction with real-life scientists, but also suggested that the district address some organizational issues.

Many of the report's recommendations were already being talked about within the district, and the staff is working to address them, said Curriculum Director Michael Curtin.

“A lot of the conversations have started,” he told the Edgemont Union Free School District Board of Education. “I think people are trying to talk about some of the issues that were raised in the report.”

Among the suggestions in its first-ever review of the science program, the consortium pointed to the creation of districtwide vision statement and a list of expected outcomes at each grade level.

In short, “what do we want our students to learn in science and what’s our approach,” Curtin said.

The consortium also suggested administrators use report-card grades, exams grades and other data to find paths that are successful for students. Using the data could help Edgemont decide whether students should be required to take certain classes and whether the district should revisit its enrollment policy for AP classes.

“A study of data on student performance could answer those questions,” Curtin said.

Finally, the group challenged administrators to look at the science department in the middle school grade levels, hoping to eliminate redundancies and gaps in curriculum.

Curtin said Edgemont is working to address the suggestions raised by the consortium and will likely implement a plan within the next 12 months. The curriculum director said the lengthy process, which Edgemont began preparing for almost a year ago, has already been helpful.

“It was a great opportunity to reflect on and think about what we are doing,” Curtin said.

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