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Curriculum fine-tuning will be the focus Monday as more than 600 teachers and staff learn a lesson on classroom efficiency.

"The district lacks focus on what is taught within the schools, and that has to change," said Superintendent Carmen A. Granto. "We have a responsibility to make the curriculum more efficient for students, staff and parents."

To that effect, the Niagara Falls School District has contracted with a Denver-based consulting firm to streamline four core subject areas -- math, English, social studies and science -- to better prepare students for the state's standardized testing.

The goal is to better align what is taught in the district with what will be tested.

"We knew we would have to accomplish some major changes," said Arthur H. McDonald, assistant superintendent for instruction. "We are striving for performance, rather than recall and regurgitate."

For example, according to McDonald, the social studies curriculum was found to lack a link to geography. On another plank, fourth-graders testing in the English language arts component never were given a listening test. Come February, they will, McDonald said.

"We will have curriculum that is truly matched to the state standards," McDonald said, in describing the one-year performance contract that cost the district $232,000.

The program will ensure that everything that goes on in a classroom has a purpose, according to Robert Laub, president of Niagara Falls Teachers. "We all need to be in sync and on the same page," Laub said. "We want to make sure that every minute is properly utilized."

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