Early Childhood Education

The Division of Early Childhood Education’s mission is to promote student achievement by ensuring that the educational experiences provided are developmentally appropriate and academically rigorous.

Professional Development opportunities were offered to all classroom teachers to enhance instruction and student outcomes. Our novice teachers received a 20 hour training on the High Scope curriculum.

The Early Childhood division continued to expand model classrooms in preschool sites. Teacher Coaches were additionally trained in the Reflective Coaching Cycle. This provides opportunities for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices. In order to enhance high quality preschool practice, teacher coaches were trained in the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – 3.

This updated version of the ECERS-3 puts a greater emphasis on learning activities, student teacher interactions and math/science.

In the year 2015-2016, the Division of Early Childhood Education continued phasing in the implementation of providing a preschool iPad to all district preschool teachers. Throughout the year, preschool teachers were offered training on integrating the iPad as a new classroom material that can support an active learner.

Additionally, the preschool program focused developing transitions that would help early intervention student’s transition into the preschool program. This transition included providing representation from the Preschool Intervention Referral Team specialists to act as a liaison between Early Intervention, the district, the parent, and the child. A select group of kindergarten teachers were also involved in a research project with the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Two district schools, in collaboration with NIEER, worked on implementing the New Jersey Department of Education’s Kindergarten Guidelines.

Curriculum Development

Passaic Public Schools’ continuous focus is in providing curricula across content areas and grade levels that is coherent and aligned. In 2015-2016 training of curriculum writers to write and review continued. Curriculum revision involved researching best educational practices and programs, use of assessment data to reflect on curriculum revisions, and significant amounts of time in the writing of the curricula. New and revised curricula is aligned to state standards and reflects the district vision, mission, and focus.

English Language Arts

The K-6 English Language Arts (ELA) programs follow the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. Classroom teachers identify the standards and develop lessons that allow students to show command of the instructional objectives by integrating reading and writing. Reading Street is a resource that is used to teach the curriculum. Teachers also use leveled content readers and non-fiction books to teach small group guided reading. The curriculum has been revised in accordance with the Understanding by Design Framework. The Writer’s Workshop is the model for writing instruction. Mentor texts are used to model author’s craft for the students. Students are introduced to chapter books in second grade. In grades 4 – 6 teachers have the option to use core novels. The curriculum will be realigned to the newly adopted New Jersey Student Learning Standards in ELA by August, 2017. In partnership with the Children’s Literacy Initiative, all teachers in grades one through three are receiving professional development and coaching in developing a literacy block and meeting the needs of their students in the classroom.

The 7-8 English Language Arts programs follow the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. The curriculum has been revised in accordance with the Understanding by Design framework. A greater selection of non-fiction works has been incorporated, as well as a better use of the block of time allocated for Language Arts. This includes the use of core novels and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt series, Collections. Ali curricula is aligned to common themes and includes project-based learning experiences. In addition to the specific strategy work being used to both remediate and challenge all learners, teachers can utilize Chromebooks in a 1:1 environment that allow students to compose their writing electronically, allowing for feedback from both peers and their teacher. The curriculum will be realigned to the newly adopted New Jersey Student Learning Standards in ELA by August, 2017.

The 9-12 English Language Arts program follows the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. In addition to the required grade specific courses, classes such as Journalism and Advanced Placement classes are offered. The English Language Arts courses explore various genres of literature such as novels, non-fiction texts, short stories, essays, dramas, and poetry. The exploration of text is designed to provide students with important skills of argumentation and literary analysis through close readings in historical, genre specific, and other contexts that provide greater understanding of the author’s work. Students learn the essentials of correct and clear writing. Students refine their writing skills and learn the Modem Language Association style of formatting. Organization and study skills are also addressed. Students will present their writing orally in small groups or to the class at large.


The K-6 Mathematics programs follow the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. Student progress through a continuum starting with using numbers to represent quantities, addition and subtraction, and extending their understanding of a base-ten system in grades K-2. In grades 3-5, students use multiplication and division strategies, fractions, and measurement and data, to salve multi-step word problems, refine traditional algorithms, and extend place value understanding. In addition, students analyze and answer questions regarding data and compare properties of two and three dimensional shapes. As students move through grade 6 mathematics, they will be asked to develop an understanding of variables and how they are related. Students will use variables to represent unknown values and equations to represent relationships. Lastly, students will understand and use the process of statistical investigation: pose questions, collect and analyze data, and make interpretations to answer questions.

The 7-8 Mathematics programs follow the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. During the 2015-16 school year, all seventh graders were enrolled in Pre-Algebra and all eighth graders were enrolled in Algebra 1. Professional Development opportunities were provided for teachers to support their instructional delivery of the new content. A 20-week Mathematics Saturday Academy was implemented to provide support for students in Pre-Algebra and Algebra l. During the 2015-2016 school year, plans were developed to introduce selected seventh graders to Algebra 1.

The 9-12 Mathematics programs follow the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. Students in Algebra classes will be introduced to the fundamental concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics focusing on the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Topics to be studied include visual representation of data, measures of central tendency, and measures of dispersion, probability, normal and bi-normal distribution, estimation and hypothesis testing, chi-square and F-distribution as well as correlation and regression analysis. In calculus, trigonometric and logarithmic functions are studied. Functions, derivatives and integrals are introduced and applied. Students can also participate in Advanced Placement Statistics, Advanced Placement Calculus, and Programming in Java. AP Computer Science was implemented during the 2015-16 school year.


All K-12 Science curriculum documents continue to be reviewed and revised for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards during the 2015-2016 school year.

At the elementary level, K-6 science classes, use the discovery-based, hands-on science activities in the Full Option Science System/Delta Science Modules (FOSS/DSM) program.

At the middle school level, technology-based STEM activities are an integral part of the science curriculum. Students have the opportunity to utilize a 1: 1 environment to research, use real-time data collection and share findings with one another.

At the high school level, Next Generation Science Standards continue to be introduced into the existing curricula. Teachers utilize professional learning communities (PLC) to plan and implement common assessments. Pathway courses will be examined and developed in order to offer various science pathways in the 2016-2017 academic year. We are exploring the option of participating with Project Lead the Way in order to offer hands-on, STEM based science courses as part of the science pathways.

Bilingual and English as a Second Language Education

The Division of Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Education is transforming the student experience for English language learners throughout the district. Through a revision of ESL and World Language curriculum in grades K-12 and increased professional development, the division is working to ensure that the specific needs of each student are addressed.

Special Education

The Division of Special Education utilizes a scaffolding and differentiation of instruction approach to assure all its students have access to the Common Core State Standards. The division continues to expand the use of READ 180, iRead, and System 44 as primary interventions. In addition, special education teachers are being trained to utilize the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework in developing learning experiences for diverse learning needs. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods materials, and assessments that work for all students.

Extended Learning Opportunities

In 2015-2016 Passaic Public Schools offers extended learning opportunities for students which include before school homework support, after school academic support, Saturday learning enrichment activities, and extensive summer programming.

Early College Initiative

In 2015-2016, the district increased the number of Advanced Placement courses and dual-credit courses offered at the high school. This has included a significant investment in training teachers to develop curriculum and improve instructional practices. It resulted in a significant change in the high school schedule, to allow for more students to have increased access to courses specifically designed to increase college attainment for Passaic High School students.

Professional Development

In 2015-2016 Passaic Public Schools invested in significant professional development across grade levels and content areas. Professional development activities provided the following opportunities: walkthroughs, partnerships with local universities, outside consultants with expertise in identified areas brought to the district, curriculum committees, data-based instructional workshops, programmatic workshops, mentorships, workshops on instructional best-practices, positive behavior supports, and vertical and horizontal articulation meetings. Professional development such as Instructional Rounds and on-site workshops utilize experts from outside the district, while the district also invests in district personnel such as Teacher Coaches and Instructional Chairpersons to support teacher practice.