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DeKalb schools unveil new, district-built curriculum

DeKalb County School District officials say a new curriculum will establish an intense instructional road map while setting a pace all children can follow.

The plan was presented during the school board’s monthly meeting Monday. Several teachers and administrators who worked on the curriculum commented they felt it would go a long way to serve the needs of all students.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Steve Green talks about his first thoughts and plans for continuing the district's turnaround under his leadership.

“We wanted to ensure our new version provided a more detailed road map, with an opportunity for us to be explicit about pacing … with components to help identify where children are (in the lesson) more readily so we’re able to provide intervention if needed,” said Lisa Martin, the district’s chief academic and accountability officer.

The curriculum was designed by school district employees in a collaboration with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which produces many textbooks.

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“This is intense and exciting work for us, by us, created by many of our own colleagues in the district,” Superintendent Steve Green said during Monday’s presentation.

District officials said about 88 teams of 228 teachers created 564 units of instruction that will be implemented for the 2017-2018 school year.

The curriculum is aligned with the Georgia Standards of Excellence in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. According to the curriculum guides, coursework also will be offered to develop the whole child, not just from an academic standpoint.

“It is essential, now more than ever, that today’s curriculum invites and encourages all students to engage in rigorous learning in various ways,” Green said. “Our students are diverse and unique; therefore, our teachers have developed a curriculum that acknowledges and complements this diversity.”

There is a focus on foundational reading skills for third-grade language arts, for example, where the students evolve from reading to understanding text, as well as making statements with more sophisticated writing.

The curriculum and its implementation will happen in several phases over three years, including analysis and development, which has taken place this year. For the 2017-2018 school year, the district will put the curriculum to use and evaluate it based on feedback from teachers, parents and students. Ongoing professional development will assist in the plan’s evolution.

The district will host informational meetings about the curriculum for people interested in the changes. Curriculum guides also will be published this summer for staff and parents to gain a better understanding of the changes and pacing involved through the school year.

THE CURRICULUM MANAGEMENT PROCESS: HOW IT WOULD WORK

  • Phase I -- Analysis (Year I): Research and review standards alignment, resources and best practices. Analyze data and identify strategies to improve.
  • Phase II -- Development (Year I): Review, revise and/or write curriculum for select content areas. Adoption by the Board of Education.
  • Phase III -- Implementation (Year II): Ongoing professional development.
  • Phase IV -- Evaluation (Year II): Feedback from stakeholders including teachers, parents/guardians and students. Review and revise curriculum based on feedback and data analysis.
  • Phase V -- Implementation (Year III): Ongoing professional development (focus on revised curriculum units).

Source: DeKalb County Schools

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