MOUNT BAKER SCHOOL DISTRICT CURRICULUM AUDIT
Finding 3.1: Curriculum Articulation and Coordination are Inadequate to Provide Instructional Congruity.
Articulation refers to the vertical communication of curriculum from one grade level to the next within schools and between the different levels of school (elementary, middle, and high). Coordination is the horizontal communication of curriculum across the same grade level or subject area within and between schools. Internal connectivity occurs when teachers are cognizant of the objectives that come before their grade level, and the concepts and skills that the students will need to know or be able to perform in the next grade level. A school system also displays internal connectivity when it ensures that all students in a grade level, or a course, are achieving the same exit outcomes in all school buildings.
The auditors reviewed board policies on curriculum, examined curriculum guides, and interviewed staff, administrators, Board members, and parents regarding the communication of curriculum in the Mount Baker School District.
Policy 2120. Review and Development of Curriculum states " 3. Curricula are to be systematically and consistently coordinated through all grade and program levels. 4. In the process of planning, developing and implementing coordinated curricula, consideration is to be included for: A. Articulation from grade-to-grade, pre-school to elementary school, elementary school to junior high school, junior high school to high school, and high school to post secondary educational opportunities "
The auditors found that board policy that required the articulation and coordination of the curriculum was not being implemented throughout the district. However, district personnel are attempting to provide articulation and coordination through a variety of means. The district is being directed by recent state endeavors, namely Essential Learning Requirements (EALRs) and state developed tests.
Examples of these attempts to provide articulation and coordination can be found in all grade levels across the district. As a result of the Boards reaction to the reorganization of time proposal (see Finding 4.4), the junior and senior high staff are studying "block scheduling" as a joint endeavor. Site Councils exist at all of the schools with representation across the grades. The elementary principals meet on a regular basis with the Director of Curriculum. They also attend staff development offerings with their teachers. The invitation to attend staff development programs funded by individual schools through their Student Learning Improvement Grants are extended to staff members of all schools. The ninth grade teachers collectively developed the "Connections" program. The high school staff collectively developed and presented the reorganization of time proposal to the Board. Regarding this collaborative working, the following statements were made:
The auditors were told that staff has requested a meeting between the 6th grade and 7th grade teachers to discuss student transition and test scores. The 1998-99 Student Learning Improvement Block Grant submitted by the junior high listed this as a specific activity to improve student learning. At the time of the audit, no meeting has been scheduled.
Even with these attempts, articulation and coordination are inadequate to provide curriculum continuity. Comments of concern made during the interview process regarding this lack included the following:
Instruction in a Junior High Class
Inconsistencies in the district demonstrate the need for a clearer and definitive articulation and coordination process. The auditors were told that common instructional approaches and pacing are not consistent at the elementary level. Some teachers choose not to use the adopted text materials. Other inconsistencies were related to the auditors during the interview process as shown in the following comments:
In summary, a clear process for curriculum articulation and coordination to provide instructional congruity does not exist. Board policy that directs coordination and articulation is not being implemented by all district personnel. Inconsistencies in the district demonstrate the need for a clearer and definitive process.
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