School board ponders how to teach ‘life skills’ |

School board ponders how to teach ‘life skills’

Eben Harrell

Aspen schools produce students who perform well academically and on state tests, but how can district officials ensure those students grow into competent adults and involved citizens?That’s the question the Aspen School District board will consider this month as it meets with teachers to discuss how to teach “life skills and citizenship” to students. Aspen students are required by state law each year to take standardized tests to assess academic achievement. But while these tests provide concrete feedback, it’s much harder to assess students’ grasp of life skills and citizenship, according to board member Fred Peirce. “I’m interested to see where [the teachers] see this in their curriculum,” Peirce said. “We need to come up with mechanisms to assess these [goals].””If we are going to say we want kids to be good citizens, what does that look like?” board member Laura Kornasiewicz asked.Life skills and citizenship are two of four “ends” policies laid out by the board to guide teachers. The other two are the board’s mission statement and academic achievement. Each year, Aspen schools coordinate experiential education programs for students. These programs, such as week-long outdoor education trips for high school students, are designed to instill life skills and nonacademic learning.Later this month and into December, the board will sit in on faculty meetings at the district’s various schools to discuss the experiential education programs, as well as how to teach life skills in the classroom. Later in the school year, the board will meet with Aspen alumni to gain further input on the issue.”We are using these forums to link us with the staff. That’s always been the idea, to increase communication,” Peirce said.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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