Niskayuna School District studies program

The Niskayuna School Board heard a presentation at its Monday, April 7, meeting from a committee that has been studying the feasibility of bringing a Foreign Language Early Start program, FLES, to the district.

The goal of the committee is to explore the possibility of including foreign language instruction in the Niskayuna elementary schools, Committee Chairman Edward Alston said.

The committee, which includes representatives from all five elementary schools, foreign language teachers and parents, has been meeting since September.

"There is considerable enthusiasm for the program within the community, and we have learned FLES is important if we want our children to be competitive in the world," said Alston.

The committee will submit its recommendations to the School Board in January after it has visited a number of schools where the program is already in place. The major issues still to be addressed include finding the time in the elementary school day, what languages to choose and whether the program should be aimed at proficiency or just exposure.

The board also heard a report on the textbook selection process from Deborah Shea, assistant school superintendent.

The process begins with a study of texts available to be reviewed by a committee of teachers and the director of the department that would use the text. Experts in the text subject area would also review the recommendations before they are made to the school board.

Board member Robert Winchester suggested that input from parents should be included in the formal process.

"Parent input has always been helpful," said Winchester.

Shea also reported on a recent conference that focused on the concept of curriculum mapping, the object of which is to provide consistency across grade levels and departments.

Shea indicated there was enough interest expressed by teachers to begin curriculum mapping for kindergarten through 12th grade.

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