November 24, 2014

Districts await curriculm changes

Danedri Thompson
submissions@gardnernews.com
Kansas will seek a federal waiver from 2014 No Child Left Behind deadlines that require all Kansas students pass standardized reading and math proficiency tests, but local school districts aren’t sure what changes, if any, a waiver might bring to district curriculums.
“There’s a lot of general information that’s been put out, but until we know what we’ll be committed to, we don’t know,” said Christy Ziegler, Gardner Edgerton School District director of curriculum.
State Board of Education members made the decision to apply for the waiver at a  meeting weeks ago, but submitting an application doesn’t mean the state will get a pass. The state board requested a similar waiver back in February that was declined.
Since then, the Obama Administration announced they will reconsider such requests, because an update to NCLB legislation is stalled in Congress.
The announcement from U.S. officials contained little information on what the waivers might mean for local districts, however.
Karen Brack, Spring Hill School District director of curriculum, said USD 230 will continue to focus on existing curriculum standards for now.
“I’m really making sure we get the common core standards aligned. That’s a big job everyone has to do,” Brack said.
The state’s wavier application will not exempt Kansas from reaching 100 percent math and reading proficiency, but  it could extend the deadline another five years or allow the state to adopt a new method of accountability to meet federal requirements.
Both districts’ curriculum directors expect to learn more about the NCLB waiver request during statewide curriculum meetings this week, though they’re unlikely to have the final word by the end of the meetings.
State school board members will meet next month to examine specific waiver proposals.
In the meantime, Brack said she’ll wait until she gets potential changes in writing before altering the local curriculum.
“We know we’re doing good things and our students are excelling at what we’re trying to do now,” she said. “We’re going to have our shoes laced up and ready to go whenever they tell us what direction to run in.”

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