This past summer, 30 Evanston Township High School classes underwent curriculum reviews in the annual rotating review process.
“Summer curriculum projects are important for a variety of reasons, particularly curriculum development, assessments, writing standards alignment and professional development,” Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Development told the District 202 School Board at its Sept. 11 meeting.
The process involved 85 teachers and came in on budget at $65,140. The funds were a mix of District funds and an IDEA grant.
New and Revised Courses
Several of the projects supported curriculum development for new and revised courses including 3 English and Geometry. The Health Sciences and Careers course was shifted from the CTE department to the science department and also required curriculum development work.
Writing Common Curriculum and Assessments
Geometry, Advanced Placement (AP) Government, and Civics courses were among courses that went through revision that focused on developing common syllabi and assessments.
The College Board revised its exam for AP Government, “and our team followed suit and revived the assessments for that course,” said Dr. Bavis. He also noted the “rigorous geometry assessment profile, which means we now have learning target assessments and what are called FR cues, which are more comprehensive assessment questions, and those are being rolled out in real time. That was a substantial curriculum assessment.”
Alignment to Standards
Each year ETHS adds to the number of courses that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This past summer that included Geometry Assessments and Chemistry NGSS.
“We really embraced the next generation science standards in our chemistry department this this summer,” Dr. Bavis told the Board. “The cookie cutter lab which we are all familiar with as students has now shifted to more inquiry-based labs. We’ve created a menu of opportunities for our teachers to go in and look at various inquiry-based labs where the results aren’t always as clear, but it’s engaging in the scientific process.”
Contemporary Adult Life Needs At Least Ten Cents
Board Member Gretchen Livingston said one course recently came up on a parent list serve, the “really unfortunately named course ‘contemporary adult life’” which counts as a consumer education requirement. “At least three School Board and student representative members raised the prospect of revising this course to turn it into something that looked more like a financial literacy course. I thought we had a little traction around the idea.” Ms. Livingston suggested a summer curriculum project could look at that course and, “probably for about 10 cents you could come up with a better name and then perhaps more importantly could come up with some substance that would be more relevant to our students.” She said the current course is, “not particularly contemporary and not particularly relevant.”
“I’ll work with the department chair to really see,” responded Dr. Bavis. “What I know is that the content has been revised over the years and that there are financial aspects, but we’ll certainly look at that, and next summer hopefully I can report back on the progress we’ve made on that revision or on at least updating the name.”
The cost of summer curriculum reviews has steadily decreased, as presented in a chart during the meeting. In 2013, the cost of reviewing 27 classes was $125,294. School Board member Mark Metz asked if the projects are being adequately funded. Dr. Bavis explained that a per-project cap has helped reduced costs.