Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2004

State standards foundation of new math curriculum

January 22, 2004

Revisions to the math curriculum at schools in the Basehor-Linwood School District won't be fully integrated into classroom lessons for another two weeks, administrators said.

Last week, the Basehor-Linwood School Board unanimously approved overhauling the kindergarten through 12th grade math curriculum, a project teachers and administrators across the school district have worked on during the past year.

Bill Hatfield, school district assistant superintendent, said the math curriculum revisions use Kansas state math standards and assessment testing benchmarks as the foundation.

The revisions also ensure students will have reviewed areas covered during assessment tests at least three times before taking assessments, Hatfield said.

An example: fourth-grade students are tested in math each year; with the new math standards, students will be introduced to skills needed for the test in second grade, develop them in third grade and, ideally, master those skills in fourth grade.

Students will take Kansas state assessment tests in March and April. Students in the fourth, fifth, seventh and 10th grades will take the state assessments.

Students in every grade level, beginning with first grade, will be administered national standardized tests.

The importance of assessment testing has heightened in the last two years with the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The act uses student performance on assessment tests as a barometer for overall school performance.

A loss of funding or accreditation could occur for schools not showing adequate yearly progress as required by the bill.

The bill has drawn criticisms from educators, some of whom argue schools will be forced to teach to the test rather than the subject and the student.

Hatfield said the school district is not using that approach. Teaching students the fundamentals of subjects will foster not only positive testing results but also improved student learning, he said.

"We don't look at it as helping them pass assessments," Hatfield said. "We look at it as improving learning and with that, assessments should improve as well."

In the next two weeks, educators and administrators will familiarize themselves more with the new math curriculum and prepare for its teaching in the classroom.

The school district has placed revitalizing the curriculum in core subjects at the forefront of its instructional agenda in recent years. The district revised the science curriculum last year, and the math curriculum this year. Next year, educators will study the language arts curriculum for revision.

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