Re-1 school board affirms support for Moving On | AspenTimes.com

Re-1 school board affirms support for Moving On

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The new Roaring Fork District Re-1 school board supports the basic concepts behind the district’s Moving On approach to standards-based education and wants to see it continue, the board affirmed in a unanimous vote at its Wednesday meeting.

But some board members are worried that teachers might not be getting the support they need in implementing the new curriculum, grading and student-placement system.

“It is a huge concern for teachers,” said Daniel Biggs, one of three new members elected to the school board this fall. “The implementation thus far is very concerning to me.”

Biggs said teachers have expressed concerns to him about the extra time it takes, including weekend hours, to enter information into the new online grade book.

The grade book is a central database used to determine where individual students should be placed in reading and math, the two areas where Moving On comes into play.

The new system places and advances students based on their level of proficiency in meeting state standards rather than their grade level.

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As with any new computer program, there have been some bumps in the road as far as getting people used to it and making the necessary adjustments along the way, said Brad Ray, Re-1 assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“It’s a little like building an airplane while it’s in the air,” he said during a requested presentation to the board about the Moving On system and how it has evolved.

His job is to work with the principals at Re-1 schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt to address questions and concerns and make appropriate changes, Ray said.

Biggs said the board discussion wasn’t meant to be a referendum on the merits of Moving On but rather an effort to make sure teacher, student and parent concerns are addressed.

And teacher burnout is a major concern, he said.

“There is a point where you can’t hang on to people through that kind of intensity,” Biggs said. “We have to be real careful from a human-resources standpoint. We don’t want to lose good teachers.”

School board President Matt Hamilton said he shares that concern, calling it a “morale challenge.”

“If we have to wait a couple of years to address some of these issues, it’s going to result in a loss of educational capital,” he said. “I can see tremendous brain drain coming down the line.”

Carbondale Middle School Principal Rick Holt said there’s always going to be “angst” in implementing any new educational approach. But the systems are in place to manage that, he said.

“It’s always difficult to get past what’s structurally important to keep and what’s emotionally painful,” Holt said.

At the urging of Holt and a handful of other school principals who attended the Wednesday meeting, the school board crafted a motion in support of Moving On, which passed, 7-0. It includes an endorsement of the program’s three basic tenets, where students:

• Must demonstrate success before they move on to the next level of learning.

• Are placed at their learning levels for math and reading.

• Chart their own progress and set goals.

At the same time, the board’s motion mentions the issues and concerns it would like to see addressed during the second semester. District and school building administrators plan to meet in the meantime and are to have an action plan to present to the board by the end of January.

“We were jumping out of the chute with a lot of changes this year,” school board member Bob Johnson said. “I think we will all become smarter about it with the evolution of this process.”

jstroud@postindependent.com