As we close out the 2009-2010 school year here is a quick look back at the curricular accomplishments.
The curriculum review cycle has continued with 2 different groups. English/Language Arts/Reading, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Guidance and Gifted and Talented are all in the second year of the review cycle. Throughout the year this group has worked to update their curriculum maps using software purchased through our membership in MISIC. As teachers enter their curriculum information, they identify units taught, connect these units to the district standards and benchmarks, then to the content, and the skills that will show students have mastered the concepts. We started the year with an introduction to the Curriculum Manager program, how to develop unit plans, and had some good discussions about what a good unit plan looks like. Throughout the year we have met the second Monday of the month to provide time for the teachers to ask questions about the process and practice with assistance present. Once this process is complete - required by the end of the year - we will have a written record K - 12 about the units being taught in our building. These records will allow us to evaluate Iowa Core implementation and any missing components.
As we worked through the year with this group we were also doing a variety of activities related to text adoption. We reviewed standards and benchmarks, establishing the philosophy that the standards and benchmarks are the curriculum, not the textbook. We discussed what a good Essential Question looks like and how to go about writing them. The group also practiced using the text evaluation rubric in preparation for selection as we head in to the 2010-11 school year.
Social Studies, Art, and Library Sciences started their review process last fall. This group met the first Monday of each month to work on setting their purpose statement for their subject area, determining a description of what each grade level expects of its students. We also worked to identify the essential Earlham Benchmarks at each grade level, which allows us to show a connection to the Iowa Core for accountability purposes. In the fall this group will begin the Curriculum Manager process.
It has been a busy year, but one I feel was very productive!
ITBS/ITED information have returned and our initial report looks that this year was a good year for the district. School wide Earlham scored at 80% reading proficient (grades 3 - 11). This means 80% of the 3-11 grade students scored at or above the 41st percentile, the highest percentage we have had since we started tracking this in the 01-02 school year. The percentage for math was 77% and for science 86%, another high since 01-02. Good news in all these areas!
MAP testing wrapped up last week, so the main portion of our standardized testing is complete. Individual and classroom results were available during testing, we are currently waiting on district level reports. This year we decided to establish test out points for the Reading and Language portions of the test. Why test out? The First thing that comes to mind is motivation. Students like to see a goal and achieve it and this test out score provides that opportunity. Secondly, at the level the test out scores are set we find that students have mastered the concepts of Language Usage and Reading. The students know the basic uses of language and how it works, and understand how to read. They no longer need direct instruction, however, they do need application of these skills. This type of assessment requires a different type of question from the multiple choice and the MAP cannot do this, so if we are not gathering instructional information about our students, what is the purpose of assessing them? The ITBS/ITED tests are compliance tests, we are required by the state of Iowa and NCLB to administer these assessments. The MAP test is a required test, but it also is an instructional tool. Results tie to skills, which should tie to instruction.