Our goal as a district is always to give our students the most rigorous, engaging, and equitable education possible.
With that in mind, our High School Science Material Review Team began meeting in December 2018 to study the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and pick the best science curriculum for our students.
In 2013 Governor Jay Inslee officially adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which aimed to “provide consistent science education through all grades, with an emphasis on engineering and technology.”
Our Science Material Review Team had teacher and administrator representation from all of our high schools. Over the past two years the team has participated in professional development, training, and reviewed materials using nationally recognized rubrics and a rigorous, collaborative vetting process.
Before making their final recommendation, the team reviewed eight publishers, looking for ones explicitly designed for the NGSS. They also wanted an iPad compatible digital/print platform that promoted student interaction and included virtual and hands-on labs.
After all that work, the team recommended the adoption of McGraw Hill’s Inspire series for Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Next, the district’s Instructional Materials Committee looked at that recommendation and approved the Inspire series, which was then approved by the School Board in April.
Several classes took part in a pilot program using the Inspire series, and feedback from both teachers and students was exceedingly positive. The majority of students surveyed found the digital platform to be easy to navigate, and teachers praised it for its support for special education and English language learners.
Middle School Math
High school science isn’t the only subject getting a makeover in Bethel. With the six-year license of our previous middle school math material expiring, a committee was brought together to review available curriculum and find the best one.
The 22 person committee consisted of 13 teachers representing all middle schools, as well as six building administrators, two district administrators, and a secondary math TOSA. The committee reviewed 10 math curriculums using nationally recognized rubrics and a rigorous, collaborative vetting process.
After thoroughly reviewing each program, the committee decided to pilot Open Up Resources with all math teachers in the 2019–20 school year.
Among many other things, committee members agreed that Open Up Resources had the strongest professional learning support, the best print and digital platforms, and had the highest rated Common Core State Standards aligned middle school curriculum.
The committee was also impressed with Open Up’s support for equitable opportunities-to-learn, including strategies for supporting English Language Learners and support for absent students.
“I think Open Up Resources provides an excellent platform to transform classes into student-centered classrooms,” said Liberty Middle School teacher Makayla Henry. “Students are talking, plain and simple. They are interacting with the math in a different way, and that is amazing to see.”
In May, our School Board approved Open Up Resources — and its digital platform Kiddom — as the core resource for middle school mathematics instruction.
Both curricula will be supported with professional development for teachers during Summer Institute. We will also be monitoring multiple data points (student surveys, assessments, state test scores) for evidence of impact of the new curriculum.