Summit School District board revises curriculum policies with goals to be more equitable

The Summit School District Administration Building in Frisco is pictured on Nov. 12, 2020.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Summit School District officials hope new curriculum policies will improve teaching and learning for students in local schools.

The Summit School District Board of Education gave initial approval for revisions to curriculum policies during a special meeting Thursday, April 7. The meeting served as a first step in an overhaul of curriculum and instruction policies to better meet the goals outlined in the district’s strategic plan.

“This is a really necessary set of shifts in what does curriculum look like and how are curriculum practices shifting,” said Ben Lausten, a curriculum specialist for the district.

In the strategic plan, the district identified strategies to improve academic and personal success for students. One of those strategies was to provide high-quality instruction by implementing professional development, or trainings, for teachers as well as ensuring that curriculum matches district standards.

Lausten said there have been “several domino effects” in addition to the new strategic plan that have led the district to the point of needing to revise its policies. Last year, the Colorado Association of School Boards rescinded several policies, leaving districts without much guidance around curriculum.

“What that left us with, with curriculum, was only policy around textbook adoption, no other instructional materials, no other support resources, only textbook and program adoption,” Lausten said. “That’s not what education looks like at this point.”

Because online learning and other forms of instruction have become so popular, the district needed to revise its curriculum and instructional resources and materials policies to include other types of learning materials.

Policy IJ, which informs how the district picks instructional materials, now includes supplementary materials other than textbooks, such as newspapers, models, diagrams, maps, charts, slides, electronic recordings and computer applications. The revised policy allows the board greater flexibility when approving materials for the next school year.

The board also approved revisions to Policy IG, which guides the district’s curriculum development. The revisions include an addition to the policy which outlines goals for the district to be more equitable with its curriculum.

“The district will ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum where each student has an opportunity for a comprehensive, equitable, rigorous, standards-based education across all grade levels and in all subject areas,” the revised policy said.

The new policy also states that the district needs to look at local data on student populations when revisiting curriculum standards each year.

Thursday’s meeting served as initial approval of the new policies. The board will still have to give final approval by voting on the policies in second reading at its next meeting Thursday, April 14.

The board will be reviewing a number of other policies during upcoming meetings as well, all with the goal of better aligning to the district’s strategic plan.

“Increasing teacher effectiveness and increasing student outcomes, that’s always where we’re trying to go,” Lausten said.

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