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A focus on 21st century communication skills is one aspect of Senate Bill 1 that is bringing changes to Kentucky school curriculum, according to Pam Williams, Elementary Instructional Supervisor for Carroll County schools. Local school officials have already implemented a number of those changes ahead of time, Williams told the members of the Carroll County Board of Education Thursday.
Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, addresses many areas – what will be tested, how subjects will be tested, when tests are given, what should comprise the public school accountability system and more. Implementation of new assessment and accountability requirements for public schools is to be complete and in use by the 2011-12 school year.
“One of the big changes that is in place currently is that there’s no longer a portfolio that’s part of the accountability system,” Williams said. “You still have to maintain a portfolio, it’s just not the old type of portfolio. They call it a working folder.”
Schools will be required to maintain a folder for each student in Kindergarten through 12th grades which will contain evidence that follows each student from school to school and demonstrates their growth over time, Williams said.
Senate Bill 1 will require that schools have a literacy program in place, a plan that includes more than writing, Williams said.
“You have to have reading, writing, speaking, listening, communicating in every content area,” she said. “We’re actually in a pretty good spot right now because last year we did a program review of literacy in our elementary schools, and because of the findings we put together a literacy team district-wide that included all of the different schools.”
Literacy is now defined more broadly with the addition of creating a blog or a website. Students will be required to learn 21st century communication skills, Williams said. All of the communication components will be embedded in each school’s curriculum and instructional practice.
“You have to have a wider program that is monitored,” Williams said. “Your leadership has to define exactly what the monitoring is going to look like. You’re constantly assessing what students know and how they’re thinking through various forms of writing. You have to demonstrate that you’re getting feedback from students and maintaining some sort of documentation.”
Williams said a key part of the new instructional process will be to teach students to be self-evaluating. Once the criteria is in place for students to evaluate themselves they can “speed forward their learning. 21st century skills have to be in place using technology as a key piece of this bill.”
A team of Carroll County school officials worked for a year developing plans that were specific to Senate Bill 1, according to Williams. Team members looked at instructional practice and identified how that should be defined in documents. Assessment practices and leadership were other areas that were studied and addressed. “These pieces of criteria” listed under literacy requirements established by Senate Bill 1 have already been implemented at Carroll County, Williams said.
“We feel pretty good about the initiatives that we have in place for our schools,” Williams said. “We feel like we’re on the right track. Right now we’re currently working on finalizing the literacy review at each school that’s a little bit different than what we did before.”