By Mitch Evans
Superintendent Jon Sills advised the School Committee at its meeting on May 6 that he is preparing to implement changes to the curriculum program review process. Since 2006, curriculum review has been broad in scope and typically takes two years to complete the entire review cycle. The existing process includes a period of curriculum reflection and surveys culminating with a team of teachers from other school districts visiting our schools over a three day period. While the indepth nature of this review has been beneficial, the benefits need to be carefully weighed against the amount of time taken by staff to carry out the analysis and then develop an action plan. Sills is now proposing a series of new, more targeted measures which would reap the same benefits, but in a shorter time frame.
The new review process will start with the generation of two or three essential questions, based on existing school improvement plans and key focus areas. These questions will then prompt a multi-layered approach across all Bedford schools, creating opportunities for interdisciplinary planning and learning. A team of teachers will also visit other school districts to gather information on how they approach these specific questions. Parental surveys are expected to still feature in the new process but will be more specific in nature, so as to yield more useful data and a greater number of responses. The resulting report will be generated in just 14 months using this new process and the action points will focus on measures for the betterment of our school system.
School Committee Member Mike McAllister expressed his approval of the proposed changes, noting that a more targeted approach reduces workload on teachers while preserving the core of a thorough program review and assuring better implementation.
Sills also announced that he has given Dr. Claire Jackson, Assistant Superintendent, responsibility for heading up a new committee which will examine the nature of our schools’ curriculum materials with regards to our multicultural community. Members from the existing Equity and Diversity committee and leadership teams, along with curriculum coordinators , will make up this new Curriculum Diversity committee.