Sunday, February 23, 2014

But My District Cannot Afford To Offer More Than The Multidisciplinary Endorsement!

Now that House Bill 5 has defined the five endorsements that a district can offer, we all face the challenge of how to best do so.  The feeling, and sometimes the argument, by the boards and administration of many districts is that they can offer only the multidisciplinary endorsement.  So how do they (and we) address this concern?  How do we strive to exceed the minimum requirements to best drive student success?

It is clear that there is no consensus on how to approach the analysis and determination of the endorsements that an individual district can offer.  And that is a fundamental change from how we have approached curriculum development in the past.  Over the past several years, the State Board of Education has told us what we need to offer (i.e., the 4X4 curriculum) without any regard for the needs of the students in our communities or the workforce demands in our communities.  We were simply told that we must offer the 4X4!

Under HB 5, we now have the flexibility at a local level to determine what is best for our student population.  In conversations with superintendents and board members across the state, there is a significant divergence of opinion on how to approach the challenge.  Of course, the smaller the district, the greater the challenge.  Or is it?

Boards and district administration must weigh a number of factors when making a determination on which endorsements to offer the students in their districts.  They must look at the courses required to fill out an endorsement, and they must assess the staffing implications associated with delivery of new courses; in many cases, this brings about a certification challenge for our teaching staffs.  Depending on the endorsement and the specific course(s), there may be technology needs that need to be met before a particular course can be offered.  And there may be facility issues associated with the new course offerings.

In Part 2 of the discussion on considerations that will perhaps lead a district to offer multiple endorsements, especially smaller districts, we will share with you some of the ideas, and more importantly the actions, being developed by superintendents  These range from simply conducting a curriculum review and slotting specific courses under a particular endorsement, to developing partnerships with neighboring districts and institutions of higher education, to building cooperative relationships with local businesses.  Clearly, we will be faced with challenges on how to address these requirements.  But the reality of HB 5 is that we each have an opportunity to weigh in on how best to do so.

Join us in Part 2 as we discuss these varied ideas and approaches., and let us know how you are approaching the challenges of HB 5.  We would love to hear from you and to share what you have learned works well in your district.

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