Guest column

School boards weigh-in on Common Core

By Gretchen Richards and Matthew Dailey | Apr 07, 2014

Recently there have been several articles written in the paper regarding standards-based education in the Camden-Rockport and Five Town CSD school districts. Some of the articles were sparked I believe from a series of informative articles that were written by the Assistant Superintendent of the Camden Rockport school districts. The Camden Rockport school board had asked the Assistant Superintendent to write these articles in an effort to alert and educate the community about standards-based education. It is completely understandable that parents, students and teachers are concerned about these changes and how they will affect our students.

The school board felt it pertinent that we clarify the process that brought us to where we are today and the process moving forward. In the 2011-2012 school year, the SAD 28 board and the Five Town CSD board approved a standards based education model for our district as well as adopting the Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano as a framework for instruction in our schools.

In the 2012-2013 school year, the Boards of Appleton, Hope, Lincolnville, SAD 28 and the Five Town CSD held several joint workshops regarding standards-based education and agreed to continue to work collaboratively.

This past August, both the SAD 28 and CSD board identified a goal to prepare for a standards-based diploma with a four-year plan for implementation. This goal was adopted by the board in September 2013. It is now a Maine law requiring high school students to earn a “Proficiency Based Diploma.” This law would affect our students who would graduate in 2018. I should mention that our district has every intention of applying for a two-year waiver regarding this law in anticipation of needing additional time to properly devise and implement the educational processes necessary to comply with the law.

As a board we recognize that our district needs to work collaboratively with our teachers, administrators and community members in order to achieve our goals, while every step and decision along the way supports what is best for our students.

There is a lot of concern regarding grading in this standards-based system. Many systems use a 1-4 grading scale, some schools use intervals between those whole numbers and some stick with letter grades. So the question would be what will the CSD use as a standards-based grading method? The simple answer is, we do not know. That conversation has not happened. I am sure as the teachers in our district are working tirelessly on developing their subject standards they are constantly thinking ahead about what the grading system will look like. How could they not? Again the simple answer is we don’t know all the answers, but the teachers will be the critical element in developing that system.

So moving forward, we urge and welcome parents, community members, and teachers to attend the curriculum committee meetings and board meetings. These meetings are where the discussions are happening. Other meetings between teachers and administrators are happening at the district level. There will be many upcoming meetings, public forums and opportunities to have your voice be part of these changes. The communication moving forward will be key in making sure no decision that we as a board make is made in haste and without all stake holders in our student’s education being heard. You will find upcoming meetings on line at http://fivetowns.net/board/ if you wish to be on the distribution list for any committees you can contact Darcy in the central office at 236-3358.

 

Gretchen M. Richards is chairman of the Five Town Community School District School Board and Matthew Dailey is chairman of the M.S.A.D 28 School Board.

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