Office of Curriculum and Instruction – Instructional Philosophy

Instructional Philosophy

We believe students learn best when they are actively engaged with rigorous and relevant lessons that are taught and assessed by highly qualified, expert, and caring teachers. The curricula are driven by Standards-based learning outcomes and measured by authentic assessments that will further inform instruction through its design to explore big ideas, essential questions, and promote enduring understandings. Technology is also integrated throughout the curricula to promote 21st Century thinking and learning to help students solve real-life complex problems. Together, we seek to prepare each and every student for college- and career-readiness when he or she receives his or her high school diploma from Irvington High School.

Initiatives and Assessment

District initiatives span such topics as analysis of data, mapping instruction, running records, leveling of classroom libraries, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, and comprehensive reading strategies.

Formative assessments are used to monitor students’ growth and drive instruction. Formative benchmark assessments used in the District include: My Math; Envision Math, Read 180; Systems 44; Reading Wonders; Pearson and the Progressive Science Initiative (PSI); end of the cycle, mid-year and final-year examinations; and interim assessments at appropriate intervals. In addition, formative assessment strategies are infused in daily lessons to enable teachers to continuously monitor student progress.

English Language Arts

The practices of the English Language Arts Literacy Program correlate with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Students learn how to effectively communicate via writing and speaking and read both informational and narrative texts during the integration of various disciplines and the use of multifaceted learning approaches. The reading program uses a balanced literacy approach that includes the following components: read alouds, shared reading, guided reading, literature study, and independent reading. The program integrates history/social studies, science, and technical subjects and also provides a wide range of informational and narrative genres in a reader’s workshop environment. The writing program is implemented in a writer’s workshop environment where students learn components of good writing, use computers to research and write, and produce original works on a given topic during the writing process.  

In our quest to develop critical, reflective and analytical readers, we have implemented READ180 and Systems 44 in grades 3-12. READ180 is a comprehensive system of instruction, assessment, and professional development proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 3-12.  Designed for any student reading two or more years below grade-level, READ 180 leverages adaptive technology to individualize instruction for students and provides powerful data for differentiation for teachers. System 44 is a foundational reading program for our most challenged readers in grades 3-12. It will help our students master the foundational reading skills required for success with the Common Core State Standards through explicit instruction in comprehension, writing, and a personalized learning progression driven by technology.  This program will be conducted through an afterschool program for most of our scholars.


The goal of the Mathematics Program is for all students to achieve proficiency by developing both conceptual understanding and procedural fluency through rigorous instruction and authentic assessments. The learning outcomes for students are the ability to think critically, communicate mathematically, and use mathematics to solve problems in real-life contexts.

Mathematics in Irvington Public Schools has taken on a new shape as two new programs have been implemented. My Math is a McGraw-Hill product that we are using in grades K-5. It was written to meet the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, which is in alignment with our curriculum. My Math also includes an extensive technology component that allows students to use manipulatives and solve problems online. The program’s built in mechanism for differentiated instruction helps the teachers design lessons to meet the needs of all learners. In addition, the program infuses formative assessment at several intervals throughout instruction, which allows teachers to constantly monitor the progress of students and to prepare for reteaching, acceleration, and intervention.

The Envision Math program that we are using in grades was developed by educators with units of instruction designed for K-12 mathematics instruction that supports high levels of student achievement. This program also includes built-in formative assessments as the goal of the program is to increase student mastery of concepts through a formative assessment/re-teaching continuum.