Curriculum alignment process continues at USD 234

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Progress is being made and focuses are being sharpened in a continued plan to align and develop curriculum throughout USD 234.

Curriculum Director Nicki Traul updated the USD 234 Board of Education Monday on continued curriculum development, which involves a plan to adopt and cycle in new textbooks for students. Traul continues to work with teachers, instructional coaches and district leadership on a proposed five-year development process.

“The new science materials are in and they’re great,” Traul said.

Traul first shared information on curriculum development at Winfield Scott and Eugene Ware elementary schools. She said she plans to share some data as well as a resource adoption cycle with the school board in November.

“We’re starting a social studies adoption,” she said. “I think we’re on the right track getting materials up to date and new textbooks in the hands of our kids.”

Traul said a goal is to understand the meaning of state standards and align materials to those standards. The curriculum development involves a combination of Common Core standards and local standards.

“We identify vocabulary and essential skills, and ask questions,” she said. “For the process at the elementary schools, ELA (English and language arts) is aligned with science as well. We’re bringing the materials together.”

At Fort Scott Middle School, the focus is on the scope of ELA, math, social studies and science for each grade level. She said teachers have been “getting into the new science (textbook) adoption.”

“We’ll talk about assessment and resources,” Traul said. “Do standards align to the materials?”

At the high school, more of a focus has been placed on “Where do we want our kids to be when they leave us?” She said a social studies materials adoption is planned for this year.

“Writing is one area we’re looking at and targeting,” she said, adding feedback from some former students indicated writing was an area they were not prepared for in college and life.

She said a committee is being formed to help the district on its writing focus.

“There are goals for each grade level,” she said.

Traul said a physical education requirement has been added for freshmen and she plans to get the status on this change.

Board member Janet Braun asked Traul about a timeline for the curriculum development process.

“I know it’s a long process, but do you have some idea?” Braun asked.

Traul said by the end of this year some materials should be online and available for viewing.

“Assessment and instruction go hand in hand with curriculum,” she said.

In 2015, the school board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush for curriculum development, implementation and evaluation services for the 2015-16 school year. The district had the option to renew the agreement after that school year.

The steps to start the process included policy and procedure, instruction and strategies, classroom walk-throughs and horizontal alignment, the latter of which takes a couple of years. Traul has said the goal of the curriculum development is to eventually put a district-wide curriculum in place. The idea is to bring curriculum completely into alignment, which will create better efficiencies. Another goal is for teachers to know the standard taught in every classroom in a particular grade.

Vertical alignment is the last step in the process.

Technology upgrades

Stephen Mitchell, systems administrator for USD 234, updated the USD 234 Board of Education on several technology upgrades that have recently taken place across the district.

Some technology projects completed include docking cameras, interactive projectors, key cards for safety and security, wireless connection, public access, an overhaul of the technology lab, 3-D printers, power generators and new printers. Technology upgrades were part of the two-year, $40.8 million district-wide school bond improvement projects voters approved in late 2014.