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New Language Arts Curriculum in Middle Schools Prompted by Test Scores

One parent says other subjects are getting shorted as a result of a focus on language arts, though district denies this.

Middle school students in Ridgewood can expect a more intense focus on language arts, according to new course offerings approved by the school board on Feb. 4.

Test scores have been down for village middle school children, prompting district officials to add four-quarter-year courses to the existing regular English instruction, according to an article in The Ridgewood News. Elective courses will now only be taken in 7th and 8th grade.

"I am not sure concern is the right word," school board president Sheila Brogan said regarding the test score dips. "I think we want to explore opportunities for our middle school  students to excel in Language Arts. The middle school principals have come to the Board with a proposed schedule that will allow sixth graders to have an additional language arts class each quarter. We have approved this request."

A technology class in 6th grade will also be removed, and students in 6th grade now receive the equivalent of a double English period. 

"The quarter courses of Word Study, Literary Analysis, Journalistic Writing, and Primary Source Research and Analysis for sixth graders are appropriate classes for our sixth graders to hone their Language Arts skills," Brogan said. "It is an appropriate educational plan."

According to the article, one parent – who is also a professional educator – expressed concern Ridgewood was lopping off technology and music offerings to meet test pressures.

"Our sixth grade students will still have music with the option to take band, orchestra, or chorus. This has not changed," said Brogan. "Technology is imbedded into courses where appropriate."

The district says its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy is a way to integrate technology into other offerings. 

"Both of our middle school principals are members of the technology committee," Brogan told Patch. "They know the need for and support the use of technology in the instructional program in all curriculum areas." 

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