Monday began the 2015-2016 school year for Clarke Community Schools. Halls and classrooms are now filled with students who are back for another year of learning. After three months of sleeping in and relaxing, it’s time for students to not only adjust to early morning routines and eight hour commitments, but also what the school board has been working on all summer.
In an effort to initiate an effective “Replacement Cycle,” Superintendent, Steve Seid and the Clarke Community School Board started reviewing the entire schools’ curricula – from kindergarten through 12th grade – and making the necessary changes to bring Clarke up-to-date and enhance the opportunities for better learning and development. Past years saw overhauls in math and reading and this year the changes are being made in the science classrooms.
“The programs we need for our students must take advantage of our current technology as well as the higher-level development demands Clarke students are showing.” said Superintendent Steve Seid. “The new science curriculum will be an entirely different approach – getting away from the ‘sit-and-get’ mindset and teaching students for comprehension and retention rather than pushing information toward answers on a standardized test.”
The new science curriculum is in place for grades K-8 and encourages the students’ learning strategies to be more proficient when they reach high school.
Conversations around programs like “No Child Left Behind” focus mainly on the disconnect from what the students are learning and what is expected to pass on standardized test. The state of Iowa sees the issue and is in the process of developing a solution. Smarter Balance Standardized Tests will soon replace the current Iowa Assessments. These changes will provide a more practical approach for students who are already learning the content presented in standardized tests while offering better comprehension and retention opportunities across the system.
Seid and the School board made sure the curriculum Clarke adopted would align with core expectations from schools around the state as well as the nation, allowing a consistent level of proficiency and higher possibilities for in-state or out-of-state transitioning for colleges and businesses alike.
“This curriculum encourages a deeper thinking from the students, and it’s more of a hands-on collaborative approach. Post secondary education as well as many Human Resources departments really like when candidates show the ability to collaborate,” said Seid.
To get the curriculum, it’s infrastructure, supplies, and the proper training; the district shouldered an expense of just over $140,000. This fee not only encompassed the preparation of the students, but also the teachers at Clarke. Professional development costs were $5,000, new textbooks replaced the old ones for $98,000, and each year students will receive a their own personal notebook – an $8,000 expense. Physical science, Biology, and Chemistry departments were given a certain amount from the remainder for upgrades on technology, learning tools, and other resources.
In order to have a highly effective curriculum, the learning methods and expectations were researched based and managed by the board over the last year. The curriculum chosen includes proven, successful practices tested on students throughout academia. Clarke Community Schools preferred keeping these effective approaches while finding additional solutions that fit the district’s unique profile.
“The decision to bring on this program and initiate bigger academic change goes beyond Clarke Community School’s physical facilities, athletics and extracurricular activities.” Seid said in closing, “The focus of this whole thing is the curriculum. We want to ensure that our kids not only have a safe place to learn, but that they also have the most up to date, effective curriculum, taught by the most effective teachers.”
For more information, contact Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools Superintendent
802 North Jackson, Osceola, IA 50213 | Phone: 641.342.4969 | e-mail: [email protected] | web: www.Clarke.k12.ia.us