School Comments By Dr. Liz Hogen As parents, we know that our children go to school and are learning every day. We see evidence of this learning in the papers, books, reports and stories that our children bring home.
However, many people don't realize that these lessons are really the result of a detailed curriculum review process.
The focus of curriculum revision is always on the student. Changes are made, when necessary, to improve the education for our students and to increase student achievement. In education, it is important to look back at where we have been, as well as to the future, to prepare our students for the changing world.
The Vermillion School District has a well defined, articulated process for reviewing curriculum in all areas. We are on a seven-year rotating cycle to ensure that each area of our curriculum is given equal time and effort.
There are four phases of this review process: Study, development, implementation and evaluations.
During the study phase, we examine the current research and trends, identify state mandates and standards, review test scores, address teacher and parental concerns, establish a time line, examine teaching techniques and strategies, and study assessment.
The development stage involves writing philosophy, belief statements, benchmarks, standards and curriculum. We also examine the articulation of the curriculum from kindergarten through high school and compare state and local standards. At this point, we will identify what we believe is needed from materials and textbooks to provide the best possible education for all of our students. With this criteria in mind, we will examine new materials from publishers and make our final selections.
After selecting the new materials, we enter the implementation phase. During this stage the new materials are introduced and used in the classrooms. Because there are no "perfect" materials, there is often a need for revisions, assistance from the publishers, additional materials, and/or inservices.
The evaluation stage is on-going and continues until the cycle begins again. Teachers are continually evaluating the effectiveness of their instruction and materials and making the necessary changes.
The Vermillion School District has curriculum committees for mathematics, language arts and reading, social studies, science, technology and computer science, visual arts, music, physical education and health, world languages, and vocational education. Each committee is composed of teachers, administrators, school board members, parents and other community representatives.
This year our district will be studying the math and technology/computer curricula, selecting materials at the end of the school year. The members of these two committees will be immersed in the study and development phases of the review process.
However, this does not mean that the other committees will be inactive! They will be working in the evaluation phase and making revisions based on standardized test scores, study and research, changes in the state standards, new teaching strategies and techniques, and teacher assessment.
I think it's important to remember that this is a cycle, it is continuous, and we are never "finished" studying curriculum! This makes sense when we think about how both our students and our world are constantly changing.
Educators have a tremendous responsibility to their students and to the community as well. Providing the best possible education takes time, energy, and commitment. However, it is also extremely rewarding and our children are the beneficiaries!