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Schools set high goals this year

by Merrie Leininger

The Douglas County schools will be pushing on in their attempt to make set high goals for their students this year.

The elementary school competencies will be piloted in some classrooms, enabling the teachers and students to get a feel for what is required of them.

Curriculum Coordinator Cris Etchegoyhen said the elementary teachers this week will have the draft of the competencies in their hands. They are expected to go through the lists and mark areas they already teach and areas they will need to improve on.

Parents will also have a chance to review the competencies and give feedback to the school.

“The goal is to get all the competencies piloted at several schools,” Etchegoyhen said. “The more sources of feedback the better.”

The next step would have all the teachers of each grade level get together to compare notes and come to agreements about what parts of the competencies they will have to introduce to their curriculum.

Then at an inservice training, all teachers will decide who will pilot which objectives.

Each teacher will have to pilot about 12-15 objectives within a subject. Each teacher will have at least one subject to focus on and one teacher in each school will have to pilot all the competencies.

The final revisions will be made by March, Etchegoyhen said.

Elementary competencies are just the basics to the subjects expected to have in later grades.

They will have to have beginning reading comprehension skills and some workplace-orientated skills such as reading directions and following them.

They will also learn how to critique fiction and nonfiction and learn the writing traits such as idea development, voice and capitalization.

Editing skills is broken out specifically to emphasize finding error in others’ work, and finding error and fixing errors in their own work.

They will also have to start public speaking by practicing speaking and listening skills and working their way up to oral interviews and oral presentations.

For kindergarten through third grade it is a little early to do much with employability competencies, but Etchegoyhen said they will be able to think about setting goals and what types of things they enjoy doing.

Foreign language requirements include listening and speaking back basic words.

At the end of third grade they will be expected to add, subtract, multiply and divide. They will also have to understand fractions and decimals, and do the work with and without a calculator. Etchegoyhen said all the basics will be taught will a few problem-solving ideas thrown in.

“More and more we find even if they can do the basics they struggle with problem solving, so we tried to build it in early on,” she said.

Students will get an overview of all the sciences early on: health, life sciences, physical sciences, earth sciences, scientific inquiry and history of science.

The students will have keyboarding requirements and have to learn how to access the school’s computers, including learning the Microsoft applications and the library computer system.

n Secondary competencies. Middle and high school students will be piloting the assessments this year after two years of piloting the competencies.

Written tests in reading, grammar and math will take place from April through June, depending on the school.

The assessments don’t only include tests, she said. Many of them are checklists of the areas the students have to keep in mind while completing a task. The checklists can be used as a tool by the student and the teacher; helping the student know what is expected of them.

The assessments will help the schools know what the students’ strengths are and what teachers need to focus on, Etchegoyhen said.

“They will be held accountable for more to graduate, but they are going into the world with more,” she said.

She said she doesn’t want students and parents to focus on the tests as road blocks, but rather as guides to help them along the way.

The tests have all been cut down to minimize the time spent taking tests and maximize the information teachers can get from them.

“The whole point is to help the kids do more and better – it is not all about testing kids to death,” she said.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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