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U-46 Board to vote on curriculum proposals

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on four curriculum proposals at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 17. The items were presented on June 3.
  Included is a world languages proposal for a curriculum framework and resources for French, German and Spanish levels one through four classes at all five high schools which will eliminate honors world language courses. The standards used for the curriculum come from the American Council on Teaching Foreign Language.
  “The rationale is to provide a guaranteed and viable standards-based curriculum at all of our schools that is well resourced and that meets the needs of our students,” said Jacob VandeMoortel, coordinator of world languages.
  The district hopes to fully implement levels one and two in the 2019-2020 school year and all four levels by 2020-2021. The resources are projected to cost $628,862, and professional development will cost $5,900.
  The text for French is “D’Accord” ($150,288), for German is “Prima Plus” and “Neue Blickwinkel” ($50,773) and for Spanish “Entre Culturas and Tejudos” ($427,801).
  VandeMoortel said the courses will teach three language modes: interpretive, interpersonal and presentation.
  “These three modes are assessed in these proficiency benchmarks… from novice-low… and they work their way up to distinguished,” said VandeMoortel who said students are expected to reach the intermediate-low level for interpretive and interpersonal and intermediate-mid for presentation by the end of the courses. He said students will be able to seek the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy through the courses.
  Hallie Furtak, the student advisor to the board, said she’s taken four years of Spanish which was reading and writing focused, and she asked if these courses will be speaking focused. VandeMoortel said it will be a “balance.”
  Furtak noted that middle school students can take Spanish 1 and asked if they can receive high school credit and Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said no because the middle school teachers aren’t high school credentialed.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked why the Spanish resource was the most expensive to which VandeMoortel said the company is a “relatively new player in the field…. I think the newness allows them perhaps to charge a little more.”
  Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked if these courses will be designated as honors and VandeMoortel said it’s “not designated as such, but we do believe these are more rigorous.”
  “I’m a little concerned that could cause certain students to take less language if they’re interested in honors options and this is no longer one of them,” said board member John Devereux and Kerr said “monitor it I guess.” U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the instructional council was not concerned.
  Kerr said the instructional council encouraged “more job-embedded professional development,” and Shrode said the plan is to have ongoing, in person and online, professional development.
  “We have to be mindful that they have to have ongoing job-embedded professional development…. This isn’t just a tweaking of the old, this really is about changing practice,” Shrode said.
  A resource proposal for the district’s current Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish language and culture course is projected to cost $93,816 for the Temas and Supersite resource which includes six-year licenses for online resources. According to the proposal, the College Board changed its AP test for the course in 2014, and U-46’s current resources predate that.
  Another resource proposal, mostly coming from McGraw Hill, is expected to cost $105,972 to purchase Spanish edition textbooks for current civics, AP U.S. government and politics and macroeconomics courses as the dual language program expands to high school.
  “Our outcomes would be that every 10th grade dual-language social studies student would receive high quality curriculum support in Spanish for their civics, AP gov and AP macro courses,” VandeMoortel said.
  Included are some free online sources and board member Veronica Noland asked if those resources are downloaded in case the websites go down and VandeMoortel said they already have been downloaded onto a hard drive.
  Board member Kate Thommes asked if the courses will be at all five high schools. VandeMoortel said it’s an option at all five but they project running just two courses at Elgin High School.
  Another resource proposal is for English as a second language (ESL) classes. The projected costs are $194,147 for My Perspectives textbooks and $77,188 for Life by National Geographic Learning Cengage texts.
  Owens asked if there were ESL resources for math and science courses. Annette Acevedo, ELL director, said those subjects are taught by ESL certified teachers and Patricia Makishima, ELL coordinator, said its hard to find ESL math resources.




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