Curriculum and Instruction
The Falmouth Public Schools works tirelessly to develop meaningful, engaging, and relevant opportunities for students to learn. As such, our curriculum and instruction design efforts are always ongoing. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires public schools throughout the state to design curricula in alignment with state curriculum frameworks. These frameworks articulate learning objectives for students at each grade. While the standards help districts determine what students will know and be able to do by the end of the school year, the district retains the autonomy to determine how these learning objectives are met.
At the elementary level, our general education classroom teachers are required to provide direct instruction in several areas:
- English Language Arts & Literacy
- History & Social Sciences (social studies)
- Science & Technology/Engineering
In addition to these core subjects, elementary students also receive instruction from certified faculty in the following areas:
- Library & Technology/Media
- Physical Education
Some students receive additional instruction based on specific needs. This would include students diagnosed with a learning or physical disability, English language learners, and students in need of academic intervention. These services are provided by specialists certified to instruct these specific and individualized areas.
Falmouth Public Schools believes that all students are entitled to receive instruction that meets their needs. In some situations throughout the school year, some elementary students demonstrate the ability to acquire knowledge and skills in some areas at a rate faster than their classmates. These students sometimes come into the classroom already knowing the material being taught or they have the ability to learn the new content quickly. As such, the district is committed to provide our teachers with the skills needed to successfully meet the needs of these learners. Our teachers receive training in how to provide these learners with opportunities to engage in their grade level curriculum at a greater depth.
When developing our instruction, we are very careful to ensure that students receive similar learning experiences throughout the school district regardless of their home school. This helps provide consistency throughout the school district, which is vital in preparing our students to transition to the Morse Pond School. It also allows for individual schools, grade levels, and classroom teachers to adjust their instruction to meet the needs of their individual students.
The Falmouth Public Schools’ website provides more specific information about grade-level curriculum and instruction via the Office of Teaching & Learning. As state learning requirements change and as we assess our own practices within the district, we adjust our curriculum and instruction responsively.
G Suite for Education - Parent Information
Falmouth Public Schools’ students and staff use G Suite for Education, formally known as Google Apps for Education (GAFE), to support student learning. As with any educational endeavor, a strong partnership with families is essential to a successful experience.
Falmouth Public Schools actively monitors all student activity within our Google domain, and we ensure that our use of Google complies with both the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). There is no presence of advertising within Falmouth Public Schools’ Google Apps Domain, and no personal student information is collected for commercial purposes. All student use of G Suite for Education must follow the District’s established Internet Acceptable Use Policy, which is available on our website.
The following services are available to students:
- Google Drive: A digital storage tool that allows students to save work in the ‘cloud’ and access it where there is an Internet signal. Each student has storage, which will stay with the student until graduation.
- Google Docs, Sheets, Slides: A suite of applications for creating, editing, and sharing word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
- Google Keep: A tool that allows students to create electronic sticky notes to help keep them organized.
- Google Classroom: A blended learning platform for students and teachers to create, distribute, and manage classroom assignments in an electronic way.
- Google Calendar: A calendar that can be used to enter events with the potential to be shared with others.
- Google Sites: A web page creation software that allows the user to build a site to display and share information. This is for students in grades 7-12 when approved to use for classroom projects.
- Gmail: Allows students to send messages to other students and teachers within Falmouth Public Schools. This application will be managed so that only internal communication is allowed. Only for students in grades 7-12.
Using these tools, students create, edit, and share files for school related projects with other students and teachers. These services are entirely online and available 24/7 from any Internet-connected device.
As a District, the Falmouth Public Schools recognizes that meaningful and relevant homework reinforces instruction. We collectively define homework as work assigned by a teacher to be completed outside of class time; homework may include both short- and long-term assignments. We recognize that homework helps to expand academic achievement and responsibility while reinforcing or extending learning. Our teachers design homework with three intentions: preparation, practice, and extension.
- PREPARATION: exposure to a topic as an introduction to new concepts and ideas; such assignments may include reading, studying, and other assignments that do not result in a submittable product but are essential to continued learning.
- PRACTICE: an opportunity for students to strengthen skills and concepts taught in the classroom by repeating them through continued learning opportunities related to the in-class instruction.
- EXTENSION: an opportunity for students to apply, synthesize, problem solve, and/or transfer newly acquired skills to other situations and contexts.
In addition to the forms of homework outlined above, students are also assigned longer-term projects from time to time. Such assignments extend skills and concepts taught in the classroom. Class time should be allotted for students to research and work on their project. Time spent outside of class on projects should be part of, not in addition to, routine homework. Timelines should be clearly stated and include interim checkpoints. Projects should reflect the work of students.
Grades 1 - 2 Occasional assignments each week, each on a separate night and each having a meaningful connection to learning and lasting no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
Grades 3 - 4 Occasional assignments each week that require no more than 45 minutes of homework on a weeknight.
Grades 5 - 6 Occasional assignments each week that require no more than 60 minutes of homework on a weeknight.
Grades 7 - 8 Up to 90 minutes of homework each night on several evenings throughout the week.
Grades 9 - 12 The courses in which students enroll at Falmouth High School provide an array of opportunities and challenges. Likewise, courses each fall into one of five credit designations: undesignated, college preparatory 1 (CP1), college preparatory 2 (CP2), honors (H), and advanced placement (AP). Each designation bears its own homework expectations:
Undesignated, CP1 & CP2 Average of 30 minutes per evening per course several times throughout the week.
Honors Average of 45 minutes per evening per course several times throughout the week.
AP Average of 60 minutes per evening per course several times throughout the week.
Upon returning to school after a period of absences, a student has a length of time equal to the number of school days absent to make up missed work. A student not making up the work in the allotted time will receive a failing mark for the work not made up. Previously announced assignments/tests must be completed upon return. The responsibility is on the student to meet with the teacher to determine when the assignment/test is to be made up.
If any extenuating circumstances exist, the parent/guardian should contact the assistant principal or the guidance counselor. The assistant principal and/or guidance counselor will consult with teacher, department head, the assistant principal, and principal when necessary.
This effort must be coordinated among the schools, educators, families, and students.
An Educator expects a Student will...
- Record homework assignments in an agenda or similar system for recording assignments and self-monitoring progress;
- Make a legitimate effort to complete the homework assignment neatly and to the best of their ability or advocate for clarification and/or assistance when needed;
- Manage time and submit all assignments when due, including long-term assignments provided in advance of an absence;
- When making course selections, consider ability to realistically complete assignments in a healthy manner.
An Educator expects a Parent/Guardian will...
- Establish homework as a priority;
- Assist their child in designating (and organizing) a space in which to complete assignments;
- Support their child in developing independent time management and work habits by monitoring and assisting as needed;
- Communicate with an educator if their child experiences difficulty completing homework in the suggested time;
- Provide limited assistance on assignments to ensure that the student’s work is their own.
A Parent/Guardian and Student expect an Educator will...
- Assign homework assignments that are meaningful and provide independent practice of skills taught or enrichment of content taught in class;
- Announce, repeat, and remind their classes about short-term and long-term assignments that require time out of class for completion;
- Communicate to families and students how homework will be evaluated;
- Check homework consistently and provide timely feedback to students.
Report Cards and Parent/Guardian Conferences
Our standards-based report card reports an individual student’s progress toward meeting end-of-year learning goals. The report cards were developed by teachers to serve as an additional way of communicating with parents/guardians. The content articulated in the report card highlights the core curriculum for each grade level and subject and describes what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of the school year.
Report cards are issued three (3) times a year in grades 1-4. Kindergarten students receive progress reports two (2) times per year. Special education progress reports and Title 1 progress reports are also issued with regular report cards during the school year. These reports are provided to inform both you and your child about progress being made. They serve as a formal record of progress and help facilitate communication between the home and the school.
Report cards are not a substitute for parent/guardian conferences. Conferences may be scheduled at any time of the year when a parent/guardian or teacher believes it would be in the best interest of the student. Formal conferences with parents and/or guardians will be scheduled at least once a year. Conferences provide two-way reporting: parent/guardian-to-teacher and teacher-to-parent/guardian. Please refer to your child’s school calendar for scheduled parent/guardian conference dates.
Teaching about Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, and Vaping
In accordance with state and federal law, the District shall provide age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate, evidence-based alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention education programs in grades K-12. The alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention programs shall address the legal, social, and health consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, with an emphasis on nonuse by school-age children. The program also shall include information about effective techniques and skill development for delaying and abstaining from using, as well as skills for addressing peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. The objectives of this program, as stated below, are rooted in the Committee’s belief that prevention requires education, and that the most important aspect of the policies and guidelines of the District should be the education of children and youth on healthy decision making:
- To prevent, delay, and/or reduce alcohol, tobacco, and drug use among children and young adults.
- To increase students’ understanding of the legal, social, and health consequences of alcohol, tobacco, drug use and vaping.
- To teach students self-management skills, social skills, negotiation skills, and refusal skills that will help them to make healthy decisions and avoid alcohol, tobacco, drug use, and vaping.
The curriculum, instructional materials, and outcomes used in this program shall be recommended by the Superintendent with support from the School Committee. This policy shall be posted on the district’s website and notice shall be provided to all students and parents/guardians in accordance with state law.
Teachers and the Falmouth Public Schools administer tests at appropriate times to assess student achievement and to determine if learning difficulties are present. The Falmouth Public Schools benchmark assesses students’ reading and mathematics skills three times per year: fall, winter, and spring. Our assessment system, Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST), provides valuable information to help determine students’ areas of strength and areas for growth.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) also requires annual testing. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is the annual test administered to students in grades 3 and 4. Students are assessed in the areas of English/Language Arts & Literacy and Mathematics. Testing schedules will be shared with parents/guardians once they are established. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not allow for students and/or their parents/guardians to opt out of state testing. In accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, students who refuse to take the MCAS test may remain in the testing room as long as they are sitting quietly and are not interfering with other students. Part of the school’s annual accountability rating is tied to students’ participation rate in the MCAS test. Parents/guardians should contact their child’s teacher or principal if they have additional questions regarding state testing.