New Hope Elementary School will utilize the Core Knowledge Sequence developed by Dr. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. which promotes literacy, a broad knowledge base, critical thinking and effective communication. Using the content from the Sequence, teachers will provide a rigorous foundation in the basics of English, history, mathematics, and science where art, music and physical activity are integrated into the curriculum. In Dr. Hirsch’s book, Why Knowledge Matters, he states, “Only a well-rounded, knowledge-specific curriculum can impart needed knowledge to all children and overcome inequality of opportunity.” Use of the Core Knowledge Sequence ensures that all children are provided with the shared body of knowledge that makes literacy and communication possible and allows one to be fully educated and able to successfully participate equally in civic life.
Core Knowledge is based on the idea that the more you know, the more you are able to learn. The idea behind the framework of the Sequence is that knowledge builds on knowledge; an ideal that is ingrained in cognitive science and has meaningful implications for teaching and learning. The curriculum has been successful in closing achievement gaps between population segments around the country and is rich enough in content to provide challenge, interest, and growth to students of all levels of achievement. The rationale for selecting this curriculum is that students in our area need an excellent school that will teach everyone, regardless of socioeconomic or ethnic background, at a high level. Our school will have high academic expectations for all, doing everything possible to support students who do not have the background that typically leads to success in academic settings. While the curriculum and methods to be used by New Hope have proved effective in raising the academic performance of underprivileged students, they will provide every student a rigorous, content-rich education because the unified, sequential, coherent approach prepares scholars for a lifetime of active intellectual inquiry and citizenship. Students will have gained the tools to be life-long learners.
Reading material will be chosen to reinforce domain knowledge and vocabulary. In line with the Core Knowledge philosophy, complex texts, both fiction and non-fiction, will be read and analyzed. Teachers will use read-alouds to impart knowledge and introduce vocabulary at a higher level than the students' current reading ability allows, as spoken language ability tends to outstrip written. Teachers will check for understanding often and will test students with rigor. Nationally-normed diagnostic tests will be given two or three times annually to help parents and teachers monitor progress and address knowledge and skills deficits. Teachers at New Hope will have high expectations and academic optimism for all students.
Reading material will be chosen to reinforce domain knowledge and vocabulary. In line with the Core Knowledge philosophy, complex texts, both fiction and non-fiction, will be read and analyzed. Teachers will use read-alouds to impart knowledge and introduce vocabulary at a higher level than the students' current reading ability allows, as spoken language ability tends to outstrip written.
The Core Knowledge Language Arts reading curriculum contains both a strong phonics base, which incrementally and intentionally instructs students in scanning and decoding, and a strong knowledge base which teaches reading through teaching content. Broad, rich content knowledge is integrated into the many hours devoted to language arts instruction.
In grades K-5, students are taught a coherent, cumulative, and content-specific curriculum. There is a strong focus on science, history, and civics throughout our program. This focus on domain knowledge encourages all students, not just a select few, to take rigorous, high-level courses in middle school and high school. The use the Core Knowledge Sequence has been shown to raise the level of achievement for all and to close achievement gaps between disadvantaged (at-risk) and mainstream students.
In an attempt to facilitate a deeper understanding of mathematics concepts, New Hope Elementary will implement the Eureka Math program. Traditionally, math has been taught as "math facts" and formulas. Students were taught just to memorize math facts and one specific way of calculating or solving a math problem. The trouble with this type of instruction was that many of us never really understood the math we were doing. We just memorized and solved the problem like the teacher told us to. Today, the expectations of students are much greater. Today's standards and assessments are requiring students to solve much more complex problems. To solve complex problems, students must understand the math concepts and have numerous strategies for solving difficult problems. Simply memorizing facts and only one strategy may not help students solve the complex problems they may face on state assessments or even in life.
Plato's observation that fine arts and athletics play a crucial role in education is taken to heart at New Hope Elementary. To promote the classical ideal of a sound mind and a sound body, we will encourage daily physical activity and healthy habits. Lower grades will have recess daily, P.E. once or twice a week, and physical activity will be incorporated into lessons whenever possible.