Thursday, July 20, 2000

Kings students out hour early

Wednesday program gives teachers time

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TWP. — Kings Local Schools students will get out of class one hour early on Wednesdays again this year to allow teachers time to work on curriculum.

        The early release program began last year as a way to provide teachers for grades kindergarten through 12, as well as coaches, with a uniform meeting time to brainstorm, said Superintendent David Query.

        “We and most districts realize there's not any time built in the school day where teachers can collaborate with one another,” Mr. Query said. “The whole philosophy is that we weren't doing this to benefit the teachers — we were doing it to benefit the students.”

        Various group meetings are already set up. For example, all second-grade teachers might gather to discuss curriculum, or second- and third-grade teachers might meet to collaborate on sequence courses, Mr. Query said.

        Topics include realistic fiction options, team planning, computerized report card training, use of technology, phonics awareness and alternative scheduling for the high school.

        The first-year evaluations from teachers were positive, according to a report presented by assistant superintendent Dick Bell to the Kings Local Schools Board of Education Tuesday night.

        One curriculum change resulting from the early release program is more consistency in teaching critical objectives, especially in the areas of math and science, Mr. Bell said.

        Mr. Bell used some of the district's Ohio Proficiency Test results to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

        The 21-percentage-point increase from 1999 to 2000 in the sixth-grade science proficiency test can in part be attributed to the additional collaboration the program afforded teachers, he said.

        Other reported improvements were: improved use of technology tools for teaching at all grade levels, additional training and implementation of literacy assessment tools by elementary teachers, and development of a second-grade Competency Based Education science assessment.

        A change teachers would like to see this year during the early release hour is more time for questions and discussion to address topics they think are timely, Mr. Bell said.

        All in all, teachers found the program helpful, he said.


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