Case study: Tools makes a difference in Long Branch

There’s lots to think about when bringing a new curriculum to your district. Take a look at how one district made the leap and see what things look like now for Long Branch, NJ, students and teachers.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

Case study: Tools makes a difference in Long Branch


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

In search of something better

Long Branch, New Jersey, is a diverse community, both socio-economically and culturally, with approximately half of preschool students entering school speaking a language other than English. In their search for a new early childhood curriculum, the school district prioritized their students–and also their teachers. They recognized the need for a curriculum that would be academically rigorous and meet the social and emotional needs of their diverse student body, while also meeting the professional development needs of their teaching staff. After an exhaustive committee search that included visits to neighboring school districts to see various curricula in action, Long Branch felt confident they had found something to meet their needs. They choose Tools of the Mind.

Tools comes through for Long Branch kids

The district enrolled all PreK staff in Tools training and began implementation of Tools. After just one year, assessments showed 80-90% of Long Branch preschoolers meeting or exceeding standards on measures related to writing, counting, and engaging in positive interactions with peers.

Students were working their way through Tools scaffolded writing techniques, with 3-year-olds developing messages and drawing a line for each word and 4-year-olds using initial sounds to write their Play Plans. Children’s positive interactions were apparent during make-believe play and other Tools of the Mind daily activities. The self-regulatory activities threaded throughout the program were clearly influencing children’s social and emotional behaviors.

Teachers make the most of targeted PD

Targeted Tools professional development throughout the year supported Long Branch teachers in supporting the children in their classrooms. Teachers became more attuned to their children’s developmental needs and those working with children with special needs learned how best to accommodate and modify the Tools of the Mind curriculum to ensure all children had the individualized supports they needed to make continuous progress. It was working. Teachers felt supported in their implementation and their confidence grew as the year progressed.

Looking ahead to an even stronger Tools program

Now, teachers are looking forward to continuous learning and improvement through their participation in Tools Professional Learning Communities, where they have the opportunity to plan, exchange ideas, refine their teaching practices and deepen their understanding of Tools implementation, working in collaboration with colleagues and Tools team members. They are anticipating getting families more involved as well, planning for Tools-themed events to increase families’ understanding of the program and strengthen the family-school connection.

 “My bilingual students, students with special needs and general education students all showed significant growth. By the last quarter of the school year 10 of my 15 students were encoding their Play Plans and writing most of the letters in their words without assistance.”
—Meghan Cavanagh, PreK Teacher, Long Branch, NJ