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Curriculum proposal up for vote in Dist. U-46


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education is expected to vote on a secondary science electives curriculum proposal at its next scheduled meeting on Monday, April 6. The item was presented on March 16.
  Little information, like estimated costs, were provided publicly while there was no formal presentation or board discussion.
  The meeting was held electronically with all board members calling in, board member Donna Smith was absent, as a precaution to COVID-19. U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders and Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, were the only ones present in the board room.
  Sanders told all other administrators to “stay home for this meeting.”
  “Typically, you would be able to address the full team of teachers and the coordinator” who developed the proposal, Sanders said. He said the proposal includes “new frameworks, rubrics and online access resources for multiple elective science courses.”
  The only public information provided on the agenda item were answers to questions board member Melissa Owens submitted prior to the meeting. Debbie McMullen, coordinator of K-12 science and planetarium, provided answers in a memo.
  Asked how the courses align with the career and educational pathways model and if they’ll be available at all five high schools, McMullen wrote: “All of these courses will be on the registration sheets for each of the comprehensive high schools. These courses will also be utilized as we build out our pathways to provide our students well-rounded exposure to scientific thinking. Some of these courses may become requirements of specific pathways.”
  Owens wrote that the proposal eliminates honors physics as it is similar to Advanced Placement (AP) physics. She asked how the courses are different between AP, honors and regular classes including biology and chemistry as well.
  All three are similar, according to McMullen, in that they incorporate three dimensional learning which include “eight science and engineering practices, seven crosscutting concepts and hundreds of disciplinary core ideas.”
  “The Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) is the distinct scientific content we want to expose students to,” McMullen added. “When we create our summative assessment and rubrics regardless of the level a student must provide evidence in all three dimensions to earn a 3 (proficient).”
  Owens asked about professional development (PD) and if there were any conflicts between Standards Based Learning and Assessments (SBLA) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  McMullen said the science office educates administrators, parents, students and teachers. There are two instructional coaches available to teachers along with PD programs including web based PD including two SBLA online courses and virtual meet ups wile there is also administrative PD.
  “Very few of our teachers, administrators, or parents experienced learning science in this way,” McMullen said.
  Asked how long it would take for full implementation of resources with fidelity and how it will be tracked, McMullen stated full fidelity is “our absolute goal” and “this year will be common assessment and resource focused and then next year we will expand to unit planning and instructional practices.” She said quantitative and reflective data will be tracked.

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