Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dorathy has close eye on district curriculum

August 23, 2007

With the financial duties off his plate, Supt. Paul Dorathy has been spending much of his time working on the district's curriculum.

Dorathy took over curriculum duties last year after former curriculum director Connie Wehmeyer resigned. Since then Dorathy hired Cyndi Frick as the director of financial operations.

He can now spend more time working on the district's curriculum, which he also did at his former district, Southern Lyon County.

"I was the curriculum director for that district," Dorathy said. "It was one of the many hats I wore in that district. This is not brand new to me, although it is a bigger job in this district than it was in the district I was in previously."

The extra time to work on curriculum has allowed Dorathy to restart the textbook adoption, discuss assessment exams and align the science curriculum with the state. Dorathy gave his curriculum report last week at the school board meeting.

The most recent news was the textbook adoption. The district did purchase social studies books that were supposed to be here last year. The $300,000 budget shortfall last year forced the district to stop all textbook purchases. Those books have been bought and are in the classrooms now, according to Dorathy.

"We have started working ourselves into the rotation that we had before," Dorathy said. "I am very pleased to get ourselves back in a position where we are going to try and rotate those, as we have budget for them.

"We have so much money each year to do accomplish those tasks and that's all we have to work with," Dorathy said. "We will use the money that we have, which most of that comes from the textbook rental fees. That's what we use to buy new textbooks with. Without those fees we can't purchase textbooks."

At last week's meeting, Dorathy also reported the district is considering purchasing the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) assessments. He said the MAP tests would replace other assessments that students take during the year, which is one reason the district staff is looking into them carefully.

Another reason is the information that the exams provide to parents about what areas their child is good at and where they need help.

"At this time we are studying the MAP assessments," Dorathy said. "Many school districts in the state of Kansas are already utilizing those. The former district I was in made they transition to those the last year I was there. The key thing that the staff is now examining is whether we want to go that direction and what assessments will it replace.

"It's a little more money for the MAP assessments," Dorathy said. "In the long run it could replace enough other assessments that we do, our kids might be assessed less and we'll probably get better information back, not only for our staff to use but also for our parents. We are looking at this from all angles."

Another advantage to the MAP assessments, compared to other tests like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, is that it resembles the Kansas State Assessment exams.

Dorathy said teachers can give the MAP assessments early in the year, get results back and teach what is necessary for their students to improve in certain areas.

"The key thing about the MAP assessments is that they tie very closely to the state assessments," Dorathy said. "How you do on the MAP assessment is a good pre-curser for what you do on the state assessment."

He also said the district should be receiving results from last year's state assessments this fall. He is hopeful the results will arrive soon.

"We're hopeful that we have those this fall," Dorathy said. "Usually it takes them a while to go through a process of verifying the results, making sure it's the right student and verifying the answers."

In other curriculum news, Dorathy said the district is trying to align its science curriculum with the state standard. He said that process began last year and should be finished this fall.

"Last school year the science teachers worked very hard at developing the curriculum and aligning it to state standards, so that teachers knew what the main issues were to be taught," Dorathy said. "We were kind of held up a little bit by the fact that the state board of education had to make a final decision on what the state curriculum was going to be. In the fall this year, we are going to finalize that and then bring a product to the board for approval."

Dorathy will again give his curriculum report at the next regular board meeting Sept. 10.

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