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Curriculum and instruction boost schools to next level

It sometimes surprises students and parents to learn that in education, we constantly seek improvements to our practice. Like doctors who do research and executives who attend conferences, teachers and principals, speech pathologists and directors look for books to read and training opportunities to get better at what we do: teaching and learning.

That's where the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment comes in: our job involves identifying what training is needed and finding trainers and classes and workshops for our staff. We also look at grades and test scores of students, we survey staff, and we evaluate programs. Then we look carefully at all of that data to make decisions about materials for the classroom, staff development, and programs for kids. Research on what works in schools and the collective wisdom of teachers and staff in Forest Grove guide us. Supporting our district in becoming the highest performing school district it can be and focusing our energies on proven strategies remains our goal.

The chosen theme for 2006-07 comes from the Model Schools work: rigor, relevance and relationship. Staff heard this from Superintendent Jack Musser at our all-staff in-service session and I often echo the mantra myself. Our commitment to providing the students of Forest Grove a world-class education took principals, teachers, facilitators, district office staff and instructional assistants to training sessions over the summer and during the past few weeks. Identified areas of focus included curriculum alignment K-12.

What this means is that all students completing fourth grade, for instance, are guaranteed the same curriculum regardless of the school they attend. All schools in the district are involved in activities to make sure this alignment occurs. Teachers and administrators representing the seven elementary schools recently attended a two-day workshop at the Northwest Regional Educational Service District to begin this work.

A team from Tom McCall, Neil Armstrong and Forest Grove High School will begin a similar process with meaningful action planning at the end of October.

In addition to aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment with a focus on college and career, other areas the schools have chosen to improve include writing instruction, math articulation and English language development. On-site workshops and teacher collaboration with facilitators are ongoing.

Finally, ensuring that all students have opportunities to meet standards and accelerate learning led the curriculum office to a week-long workshop in strategies for highly capable and talented-and-gifted students. Teachers have already implemented strategies learned in that weeklong institute.

The challenge of taking an already top district higher requires a laser-like focus on best practice, but we know we can do something more, something different or something better to get all students to high levels of achievement. The Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment will work hard to support this effort.

Jennifer Frentress is the new director of curriculum and instruction for the Forest Grove School District. You can -email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..