Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GCISD middle school curriculum changes postponed to 2013-14

In order to better inform parents about the middle school curriculum changes approved in the January 2012 School Board meeting, GCISD adjusted the timeline to eliminate the on-level course track and create the new College Readiness course offering. Instead of starting with new 6th graders in the 2012-13 school year, GCISD will implement the changes for both 6th and 7th graders during the 2013-14 school year. There will be no changes to the GT/Accelerated course tracks. As originally proposed, current middle school students will not be affected by the new program of studies. All students currently in middle school will continue to have the on-level, pre-AP and GT/Accelerated options.

These changes were approved in order to better prepare all our students for their post-high school education. The key is to prepare all students for all the options available, including trade schools, community colleges and universities. A well rounded and challenging public school education benefits all kids, even if they decide not to pursue a bachelor's degree. The issue we currently have is that many students taking on-level courses were not pursuing any degree after high school. We have to do a better job preparing and encouraging all students to continue their education once they leave the GCISD.

I received comments from parents that were concerned about pushing this curriculum change as quickly as we first envisioned. I also received feedback from elementary school parents stating their lack of trust in our ability to effectively differentiate class content at our middle schools with a more diverse student body inside the College Readiness courses.  On the other hand, our middle schools principals were very confident in their ability to implement this change for the next school year because current pre-AP classes already have a very diverse student body.

In addition to the benefit for middle school students, eliminating the on-level track will also have a positive effect in our elementary schools. As we align the middle school goals with our elementary schools, it is critical that we strengthen our elementary school curriculum. Improving the learning experience at the elementary level will prepare our students for a more challenging College Readiness course track at middle school. Instead of working the elementary school changes first to then implement changes at the middle schools in a few years, as suggested by some parents, we wanted to impact incoming 6th graders in order to accelerate meeting our college readiness goal proposed in our new LEAD 2021 district strategy.

As a member of the School Board, I understood the challenges this change would bring to our district. However, I have full confidence in the ability of Dr. Robin Ryan and his staff to implement this plan. In order to fulfill our mission to be the best school district in the state, we have to change the way we prepare our students. Close to 25% of our students do not pursue any degree after graduating from our district. That needs to change, and strengthening our middle school curriculum is an important step to improving those numbers.

For more information about the middle school curriculum changes, please visit this link

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