Wednesday, November 30, 2005
At a meeting Tuesday night, the Graduation Requirements Committee took its largest step toward creating the curriculum recommendations it plans to make to the Steamboat Springs School Board in January.
But that step did not go very far forward.
What: Community forum to discuss graduation requirements
When: 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: To be announced early next week
Although committee members discussed for the first time concrete recommendations about the Senior Odyssey program and the district's foreign language curriculum, several of the recommendations contradicted one another, especially when it came to Odyssey.
Committee member Robin Crossan, president of the Education Fund Board, proposed a two-year moratorium on Odyssey as a graduation requirement for seniors. Instead, she proposed offering the yearlong course as an elective "while we figure out how to do it right."
"The district's mission statement says 'all students,' and I don't think we are currently satisfying all students (with Odyssey)," Crossan said. She suggested students be able to complete both aspects of the program -- the first-semester class and the second-semester project -- during any of their four years in high school.
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Kneze--vich requested that the project remain as a requirement for the second semester of a student's senior year to provide a capstone for students.
Other committee members suggested leaving Odyssey as it is, making it a permanent elective or toughening the requirements of the final project.
"The elephant in the room is Senior Odyssey," Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said.
Similar dissension was apparent with proposed recommendations for the school district's foreign language curriculum.
Ann Sims, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, proposed requiring one foreign language credit for high school graduation. Other committee members proposed requiring two credits or adding an emphasis in conversational Spanish to the curriculum.
Veteran educator Lynn Kelley facilitated the meeting's discussion and said that although the sharing of ideas was good, work needs to be done for the committee to reach consensus.
"I don't think they're close at all right now -- there certainly are considerable differences of opinion," said Kelley, a retired educator with 32 years experience and a doctorate in educational administration and curriculum development. "People are really beginning to get down to their core beliefs."
For recommendations to be effective for next school year, they must be presented to the School Board in January. The committee has only two more meetings before January.
Sims said Wednesday that the time crunch could not be avoided because of the amount of background information that committee members -- who began meeting in September -- had to digest.
"I don't think this could have been done any quicker," she said, adding that numerous questions about requirements in other academic fields, such as physical education and mathematics, were resolved during the past two months.
The committee will host a community forum Wednesday to discuss curriculum issues with the pubic. Kelley will moderate the forum, during which members of the public will have three minutes to state their views about changes to curriculum or graduation requirements.
- To reach Mike Lawrence call 871-4203 or email email@example.com