Bethlehem A to Z heading

BC Elementary Handbook for Parents and Students

Academics

We believe that children are individuals and progress through structured curriculum sequences at different rates. Therefore, you will hear us refer to differentiation of instruction and continuous progress.

Differentiation refers to the process of placing a child with small groups of children who have similar strengths and/or weaknesses in a particular subject area. It could also mean that the teacher is working with a child in a one-to-one relationship. Continuous progress, on the other hand, refers to the child’s placement in a curriculum sequence. In other words, it could mean that a third-grade child is working in a fourth-grade math sequence or perhaps a second-grade math sequence.

So, even though we use the term "grade" to indicate age-level placement, instructional levels may vary.

The district's Elementary Curriculum Handbook, given to all new elementary students, contains an overview and grade-by-grade description of the elementary curriculum topics in each subject area. Please save this handbook, as it will be your resource throughout your child's elementary career at Bethlehem.

Assessment & Standardized Testing

The district is required to administer assessments that are part of the New York State Testing Program for students in grades 3, 4 and 5. In addition, we administer additional local assessments. Together, these assessments help to monitor and communicate the progress of students and inform our instructional decisions.

Classroom Placements

Work begins in late spring to start preparing the class lists for the following school year. The students are placed so that all the classes will be as evenly balanced as possible. Consideration is given to both academic achievement and the social development
of the children. While we welcome parents' sharing of important information about their child’s learning style, we ask that no specific teacher requests be made. It would be difficult to honor all such requests and, in some cases, would negate what we feel is best for the child.

Assigning children to a classroom group is a very deliberate, carefully thought-out process collaboratively created by the staff and the principal. Our goal is to create well-balanced classes with an academic range of abilities and social behaviors; the best balance of boys and girls possible and the best match-up of teaching style and student learning style. We consider factors such as reading and math skills, work behavior and attitudes, personal behavior and attitudes and the specific needs of the individual.

The class lists are finalized in August. By this time, our records are as close as we can get to what our enrollments will be in September. Notices of room and teacher assignments are mailed to parents during the third week of August. Children who register after school starts are generally placed in classes with the lowest enrollments.

Homework

It is the policy of our school district to assign meaningful homework.

When properly guided, homework serves to reinforce and extend formal instruction. Homework may also stimulate curiosity that may lead students to explore new areas and dimensions independently.

Such assignments also:
3 Provide practice in developing and reinforcing skills;
3 E Encourage students' development of good study habits and self-initiative; and
3 D Develop parental interest and participation in the student’s program.

Homework should never simply be an assignment that is characterized chiefly by the time it consumes.

Making Up Assignments

These guidelines apply to students who have legal, excused absences of one or more days. Upon the student’s return to school, teachers will provide a list of owed assignments. Two days completion time for each day of absence will be allowed (e.g., six days to complete assignments for a three-day absence). Teachers at their discretion may provide alternate assignments in relation to the duration and nature of the absence.

Homework Guidelines

Homework serves different purposes in different grades. For younger students (grades K-1) homework should be used to reinforce the basic skills learned in class, foster positive attitudes towards school and improve academic-related behaviors and character traits. In these grades, it is not recommended to use homework primarily to improve or accelerate subject-matter achievement. As students get older (grades 4-5), the function of homework should gradually incorporate more opportunities to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge in specific topics.

Although homework should be required at each grade, a mixture of voluntary and mandatory homework is best. The frequency and duration of mandatory assignments should be as follows:

Kindergarten: occasional home activities or projects to reinforce classroom instruction and inform parents of current concepts being taught in the classroom.

Grades 1 to 3: three to four assignments per week, each assignment lasting no more than 10-30 minutes.

Grades 4 to 5: three to four assignments per week, each assignment lasting no more than 40-60 minutes.

Independent reading should be included in the above minutes.

Preparation for Middle School

The Middle School motto is: "There are no strangers here; only friends we have not met." In April, all grade 5 parents receive a letter of information about grade 6 programs from the Middle School principal.

Middle School guidance counselors visit grade 5 classrooms in the spring to describe the Middle School to the students. The guidance counselors also meet separately with the grade 5 teachers to discuss any special needs and qualifications individual students may have that would affect their team assignments the following year. The Middle School principal also holds informational meetings for parents.

Supplemental Academic Programs

Academic Intervention Services (AIS)

As defined by New York State, Academic Intervention Services (AIS) are supplemental services provided to those students who perform below the state standards or demonstrate partial or minimal understanding of the skills and knowledge needed at their grade level. Inclusion in the program may be based on group test results and/or teacher recommendation. The parent is notified before a diagnostic reading or math evaluation is conducted, and results are shared with the parents.

If the child requires help, supplementary instruction is conducted individually or in small groups of children of approximately the same age and grade placement. Instruction can be provided by the classroom teacher or by a designated teacher for supplemental services. These programs supplement but do not replace the child's regular classroom program in reading and math. Parents cannot have their children opt out of AIS services if they qualify based on the results of assessments.

Challenge Program

The Challenge Program provides enrichment in mathematics and language arts for “high-end learners” in grades 3, 4 and 5. We have two Challenge teachers who serve all five elementary schools in the district. There is a careful and thorough process used for each student who is considered for this program. The process is identical for every student and concludes with a meeting and decision made by the Child Study Team at the building level. Students who meet or exceed eligibility
criteria are asked to participate in the program.

The Challenge program also provides services for K-2 teacher and students. Students are not seen on a "pull-out" basis until the third grade. However, the Challenge teacher is a resource for additional enrichment materials and suggested activities for any teacher wishing to use them with a small group of students or for whole-group lessons.

Jump Start

In each elementary schools, parents and community volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring for early readers who experience difficulty as they begin to read. The tutoring sessions are based on the Reading Recovery approach of Marie Clay.

1000 Book Project

The district offers a wonderful book-borrowing program for our young learners to instill a love of literature and promote early literacy. Each of the five elementary buildings houses 100 book bags, each filled with 10 books that are appropriate for children from 3-7 years of age. The bags may be signed out for reading and enjoyment at home and returned to borrow another bag. The goal is to read all 100 bags—or 1000 books. Stop by your elementary school to sign up to enroll your child in the 1000 Book Project.