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Times They Are A-Changin' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bret Miles   

Last week’s column focused on the impacts of changing standards with the adoption of our new Colorado Academic Standards. While there are good reasons to update our old standards from 1993, new standards have created a domino effect for new work to be done. Changing what is expected of students means that it is time to change curriculum.

Curriculum writing is a complex and lengthy process. It is also overwhelming in rural school districts where the classroom teachers are doing the curriculum work rather than a team of people in a district office somewhere like in the large districts. Teachers in rural schools have to keep their classes going while writing curriculum and doing whatever odd job is asked of them, including being a sponsor or coach.

Needless to say, when the new Colorado Academic Standards were adopted, the teaching staff in Holyoke was not exactly thrilled at the prospect of writing curriculum again.

When new curriculum is written, the assessments change too. Our state assessments are changing. Our good old CSAP has been turned into TCAP, the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program.

The next version is in the works now. Classroom assessments also need to be adjusted or recreated when the standards change. Teachers will be looking at creating new assessments for their new curriculum.

Faced with new curriculum and new assessments, our districts had some options in front of them. First of all, we will be adopting new curriculum that has been created by the Department of Education based on the new standards. This curriculum has been created by teachers from across the state, including teachers from Holyoke who were selected to be part of the process.

Holyoke is not the only district that will be using the new state sample curriculum. In fact, 11 districts in northeastern Colorado will be working together to implement this new state sample curriculum as a whole group.

This collaborative effort of implementing the new curriculum was just a start. We will also be creating time to get teachers together from our districts for unprecedented collaboration. We believe that our teachers can do a better job of implementing the new curriculum and standards if they are working together.

We also believe that our teachers can do a better job of creating classroom assessments when they are working together.

When you are the only chemistry teacher in a school or one of two fifth-grade teachers in a school, you are somewhat limited in any opportunities to brainstorm new lesson ideas, create alternate assignments for struggling or gifted learners or how to integrate technology in ways that engage students.

Working together with teachers in our area presents a wonderful opportunity to implement the new standards and to have more creative options to find the best way to reach every student.

Collaborating means compromise will be necessary, but the trade-off will be greater. Not only will we be working together on curriculum, instruction and assessment, all of the districts in our region will also be using a new teacher evaluation instrument.

And that is where we will pick up next week on our tour of changes in public education in Colorado.

Miles is superintendent of Holyoke School District Re-1J.

Holyoke Enterprise March 7, 2013