The Community School District board considered the progress made on the development of a Marine Studies Pathway by high school principal Todd West and other parties on Wednesday, November 7.
The pathway, under development to pilot next year with full implementation in the 2014-15 school year, would use standards-based, hands-on learning to meet the education requirements for graduation. The Marine Studies Pathway would be as rigorous as current coursework, said West. Further down the line, other pathways will also be developed, including a healthcare studies pathway and a third pathway which is still in flux but may be arts-related.
Also in development is the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, which would be similar to an “honors program” or supplemental program for those students who are pursuing a career in commercial fisheries.
As the Marine Studies Pathway represents what Superintendent Mark Jenkins termed a “fundamental curriculum change,” the board will vote in December whether to officially approve of the shift toward standards-based education and the multiple-pathways approach.
Board member Stephen York suggested speaking with the town boards of selectmen about the shift as well.
The board discussed the need to improve communications practices and “public relations” with the community, particularly in light of the upcoming budget season. Board member Vicki Zelnick said a part of the solution is to create a vocabulary and use it consistently so the public can follow the progress and developments in the schools.
Community member Suzanne Ruch said that public perception of what is going on in the school is a problem. The majority of people don’t necessarily understand the acronyms used, like DIBELs (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, a test for reading) or RTI (Response to Intervention, a method for providing academic intervention and support).
“What they see is that the school hasn’t made AYP,” said Ruch.
“AYP” stands for Adequate Yearly Progress, which is a measure of how well schools are progressing according to the No Child Left Behind law. Nationwide, 49 percent of schools did not make AYP last year, and in Maine, 67 percent of schools did not make AYP, according to data from the Center on Education Policy.
The board also approved (5-0) a memorandum of understanding with Head Start, which will move into the elementary school over Thanksgiving break. See story on page 1.
The board’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. On Monday, December 3, the Union 76 board will meet at the Sedgwick Elementary School at 6 p.m.