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DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs

Principals Hone in on Differentiated Instruction in Standards-based Schools at 2003 DoDDS Pacific Conference

The annual DoDDS Pacific Principals' Conference, scheduled for November 17-22, 2003, at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, will focus on success for all students. The conference will address initiatives that are being implemented under the 2001-2006 Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Community Strategic Plan. The theme of the conference is Different Students—Different Starting Points: Differentiated Instruction in a Standards-based School, and will provide guidance for administrators on how to lead schools in using research-based best practices to implement the system’s initiatives. The conference capitalizes on the DoDEA vision, “Communities Investing in Success for ALL Students,” and the President’s national education agenda to “leave no child behind.”

Effective instructional leadership is the underpinning for sessions in understanding assessments, promoting reading comprehension, and supporting improved mathematics education in the school.

Dennis Ward, Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction Support Specialist for DoDDS Pacific, stated, “This year, the new DoDEA theme is Math Matters, which coincides with the President’s education agenda and initiative in mathematics. The conference sessions on mathematics will give principals the opportunity to learn how to observe and evaluate a mathematics classroom and will strengthen their understanding of how to support the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards and guiding principles--equity, curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, and technology.”

At the February 3, 2003 Mathematics Summit, Secretary Paige remarked, “Too many of America’s young people are not literate in mathematics and science. Too many are graduating from high schools without the skills or the knowledge to take their place in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and science—all critical to maintaining American’s leadership in the world.” Dr. Peggy Bullion, Chief, Education Division, DoDDS Pacific, stated: “In order to meet the goals of the DoDEA Community Strategic Plan, our system must offer challenging standards and courses of rigor. To help students reach high levels of achievement and succeed in their courses, DoDDS Pacific has been offering support classes in literacy and mathematics. This year, every high school is offering an elective Geometry lab class, specifically for students enrolled in Geometry whose test scores reveal that such support would enhance their success levels. Last year, DoDDS Pacific implemented a similar lab course for students needing help in Algebra I.”

New more rigorous mathematics requirements will be in effect for the graduating class of 2008. These graduates will need to complete Algebra I, Geometry, and a third higher level mathematics course--to be determined. This is in response to the belief that standards-based schools and rigorous coursework will provide students with the needed foundation to compete for and succeed in technically-oriented careers. As stated by William Schmidt, Michigan State University, “recent results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show that US eight and twelfth graders do not do well by international standards—ranking below average in both grade and , in fact, near the bottom of the international ranking on a mathematics literacy test at the end of high school.”

Ward added, “Right now we are looking at best practices and ways to improve mathematics education. This is year one of the DoDEA six-year curriculum development cycle, where we look at our standardized test results, performance assessment results and other measures which will help us in reviewing mathematics materials and correlating those materials with our curriculum standards.”

The conference will also focus on how standards-based instruction connects to the DoDEA Community Strategic Plan, school improvement, and the curriculum development cycle. The end result of DoDDS Pacific emphasis on mathematics is to lay the foundation for students to develop into competent, literate adults.

This year, during their classroom visits, administrators will be observing, analyzing, and giving feedback to teachers related to standards-based curriculum and instruction, and the conference is intended to provide them with knowledge and tools for leading learning and instituting research-based best practices within their schools.

Administrators and guests will hear welcome addresses from COL Edward Patrick, USPACOM./J1, BrigGen Timothy R. Larsen, Deputy Commander, United States Forces, Japan; and Dr. Joseph Tafoya, DoDEA Director, will deliver a message.