Education is an evolving field. Every day we discover new and better ways to foster and promote student learning. Add to that new insights in science and technology, the explosion of exciting new technology applications and constantly changing global political boundaries and it’s easy to see how student curriculum quickly becomes outdated.
That said, replacing it is a huge, labor intensive and expensive undertaking, paid for largely by supplemental levy funds.
In the Nampa School District, the process takes a full year per subject adoption (a little more time if we are battling a pandemic), beginning with the creation of a committee of parents, teachers, administrators and, sometimes, community members.
Their first task is to identify the guiding values that resonate with our community. Next is the creation of ways to compare and vet different options. One key factor is how materials have been used successfully and effectively in other districts to build student learning. The committee also looks at the balance between print and digital materials, and how that affects delivery of instruction and the ability to stay relevant for longer.
Once the field has been narrowed to two or three best options, the curricula are piloted in selected grades or schools before the committee’s recommendation is brought to the board for final approval.
The Nampa School District is working through an eight-year adoption cycle. Subjects recently tackled include social studies, science, ELA (English), reading intervention, mathematics, art and more. Physical Education curriculum is currently being reviewed.
While many people connect curriculum with textbooks, it also can include digital resources, academic magazines, student practice books, novels and manipulatives or classroom kits. For instance, elementary reading curricula include placing multiple books in kids’ hands as their reading levels progress.
For both choral and instrumental music courses, costs include not only methods books but also sheet music and copyright permissions. Theater arts includes multiple copies of scripts and production royalties.
Without support from voters, the district could find itself in the same situation it was a decade ago, when many textbooks were years out of date.
“Keeping our curriculum updated and relevant is a key component in reaching our goal of ‘Inspiring excellence – every child, every day,” said Director of Curriculum Laurie Maughan. “It is essential that our students have the right curricular resources to succeed."
Find information on the March 8 levy election at nampa.school/levy.