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2009 Aspiring New Jersey Schools To Watch®

School
Theodore Schor Middle School
243 North Randolphville Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Principal
Richard Hueston

FOCUS DAYS

The FOCUS (Focus on Curriculum, Understanding, and Standards) program was created as a result of an analysis of the school’s community.  This analysis revealed that some students were not performing as expected, due to missed or incomplete assignments. It was also determined that many students who would benefit from after school supports were unable to attend the extra help activities for reasons beyond the school’s control.  The FOCUS program allows the entire school, or potentially a targeted grade level, to shorten the length of class periods in order to provide an hour and fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time for students to complete course requirements.  More importantly, it allows teachers to diagnose student deficiencies and develop prescriptive plans to help assist identified students in areas in which they have been found to be in need.  Theodore Schor Middle School has scheduled school-wide FOCUS Days one week prior to the time of interim reports and one week prior to the end of a marking period so that missed work is made up and not the cause of a lower than expected grade on a report card.

The FOCUS Day also includes a component for students who are current in their assignments and understand the skills and concepts being taught.  These students are scheduled into a FOCUS Day for enrichment where they participate in activities planned by the creative arts and physical education teachers.  This day also affords students who are knowledgeable about the curriculum to give back as a service learning activity.  These students have an opportunity to become peer tutors and are asked to help fellow students understand concepts that they already comprehend.  As part of the overall “School Student Management Plan,” students who participate receive points toward dances and trips as an incentive for giving of their time and expertise.

Rochelle Hendricks, Assistant Commissioner
Division of District and School Improvement, NJ Department of Education, P.O. Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625