Re-1 rolls out ‘next steps’ in standards-based education

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – While headlines around the country have referred to the move toward standards-based education in public schools as a “revolution,” the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 views it more as an “evolution.”

That was the distinction made by district officials at a recent Re-1 school board meeting, as schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt continue the trend toward a standards-based system.

But, with terms like “commonly grouped kids” or “flexible grouping” now a part of school vocabulary, and a more blurred line between grade levels in some instances, there’s also a recognition that parents need to be included in the loop.

Continuing this week and throughout October, individual schools will be hosting meetings for parents to weigh in on the work the district is doing with regards to adopting standards-based learning.

“Moving on to the next steps in standards-based education is a major focus for the 2010-11 school year,” according to an article in the weekly RFSD Community Update.

In that pursuit, the district is encouraging parent involvement and ideas, “if we are to succeed in making our schools the best they can be for your children,” the article states.

A standards-based approach involves making sure students achieve a certain degree of proficiency in a subject area before they move on to the next level.

The shift locally began a few years ago when students began receiving report cards measuring students as “unsatisfactory,” “partially proficient,” “proficient” or “advanced” in different subject areas, rather than issuing letter grades.

While a student may be performing at their grade level in one subject, they could be performing below or above that level in other subjects. As a result, students may be grouped with their peers a grade or two up or down based on common ability, rather than grade level.

“Grades are given by instructional level, rather than grade level,” Re-1 Assistant Superintendent Brad Ray explained to school board members. “If the tools aren’t in place for a school to make that jump, we won’t do it. And there are a lot of tools.”

The upcoming presentations will include specific information about how the new approaches are designed to ensure students succeed.

“There will be processes in each building designed to increase communication and input from teachers as we go through the change process,” according to the Community Update article.

Among the “next steps” in implementing the standards-based approach that will be discussed include:

• Making sure clear expectations for each learning segment for staff, students and parents are provided.

• That staff, students and parents know what “proficient” looks like.

• That students are involved in setting goals and charting progress of their own learning.

• That students move to the next learning segment when they have met the district criteria for proficiency

Following is the community-based meeting schedule to discuss the standards-based education model and goals:

Sopris Elementary, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

Glenwood Elementary, Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m.

Glenwood Middle School, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.

Basalt Elementary, Oct. 11, 5:30 p.m.

Basalt High School, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m.

Glenwood Springs High School, Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m.

Roaring Fork High School, Bridges High, Carbondale Middle, and Crystal River Elementary – Joint meeting to be held at Carbondale Middle School, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m.