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Table of Contents

A. Student Performance
B. Curriculum Development and Evaluation
C. Staff Development
D. Compensatory Education
E. Bilingual/English as a Second Language
F. Career and Technology Education (CATE)
G. Gifted and Talented Program
H. Special Student Populations
I. Instructional Technology

CURRENT SITUATION

Prior to 1991-92, MPISD's instructional program involved homogeneous groupings of students, or the grouping of students by their achievement levels. Gifted and talented students were grouped together in a class and lower achieving students were grouped together in a class. In 1991-92, the district decided to restructure its instructional approach to accomplish heterogeneous groupings of students: mixing high achievers in with low achievers. The primary reason was an increasing gap in performance between high and low achievers, especially the district's at-risk student population.

Research discussed in Closing the Gap: Acceleration vs. Remediation and The Impact of Retention in Grade on Student Achievement (1993) demonstrated that "when minimally-achieving students can watch, learn, grow, and contribute to classes of moderate as well as high achieving students, research shows tremendous gains." The same research showed, however, that homogeneous grouping best facilitates academic learning for the truly gifted students.

Heterogeneous grouping of students, according to the same research, is "challenging (and) stressful." MPISD teachers said that workload and lesson planning has increased dramatically since the shift. At the same time, many teachers said that overall student achievement increased dramatically, and they would not advocate a return to homogeneous grouping.

To accomplish the transition, MPISD invested heavily in training for teachers, including cooperative learning strategies, identification of students qualified for Section 504 accommodations, New Jersey Writing Project strategies, brain research, thematic instruction, and Reading Recovery.

Curriculum and instruction was designed on each campus to meet the needs of all students. Programs used at the elementary, intermediate, and middle schools include:

  • Reading Recovery and Literacy Support Strategies for first and second grade students.
  • Saxon Math, kindergarten through 6 grade.
  • Rebecca Sitton Spelling, kindergarten through 6 grade.
  • Dr. George Gonzalez's Reading and Writing Strategies for ESL and Bilingual Students, kindergarten through 6 grade.
  • New Jersey Writing Project, offered to all teachers as a supplemental strategy, kindergarten through 6 grade.
  • Cooperative Learning.
  • Integrated Thematic Instruction.
  • Identification and implementation strategies designed to address learning styles.

Exhibit 2-51 through Exhibit 2-53 list all programs by elementary, intermediate, and intermediate campus within each grade level.

Exhibit 2-51
Curriculum and Instruction Programs Used at MPISD Elementary Schools
1998-99
School Grade Subject Program
Sims Kindergarten Reading Scholastic Early Childhood
      Phonemic awareness
      Extrellitas (*)
    Math Saxon Math
  1st, 2nd Reading Passports Learning System
      Scholastic Voz Del Lector System
      MacMillian Basal Reading (*)
    Handwriting D'Nealian Handwriting
    English Houghton Mifflin English
      Hampton Brown English Partner-ESL (*)
      Extrellitas (*)
    Math Saxon Math
      Mathematics in Action
      Matematicas in Accion (*)
    Science Discover Science
      Windows on Science
      Descrubre Las Ciencias (*)
    Social Studies Stories in Time
      Realtos Historia (*)
    Spanish as a Second Language Rei, Amigos
    Health Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Health
    Music Music Connection
Brice Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd Math Saxon Math
      Marilyn Burns
    Spelling Rebecca Sitton
    Language Arts New Jersey Writing
      Balanced Literacy
      Levelled Books
      Extrellitas (*)
    Drug awareness Education for Self Responsibility
Fowler Kindergarten Math Saxon Math
    Language Arts Scholastic
  1st Math Saxon Math
    Spelling Rebecca Sitton
    Social Studies Harcourt Brace Johanovich
    Reading Silver Burdett
    Bilingual Reading MacMillian, Hampton Brown English Partner-ESL, Wright Group, Rigby (*)
    ESL Hampton Brown English Partner-ESL (*)
    Writing D'Nealian Handwriting
    Science Scott Foresman
  2nd Math Saxon Math, Marilyn Burns, MacMillian
    Spelling Rebecca Sitton
    Reading Silver Burdett, MacMillian
    Writing D'Nealian Handwriting
    Science Scott Foresman
    Social Studies Heath
    English Houghton Mifflin
    ESL Hampton Brown English Partner-ESL (*)
    Spanish Reading MacMillian
Source: MPISD.
(*) Indicates bilingual curriculum

Exhibit 2-52
Curriculum and Instruction Programs Used at MPISD Intermediate and Middle Schools
1998-99
School Grade Subject Program
Corprew Intermediate 3rd , 4th Math Saxon Math
      MacMillian
    Spelling Rebecca Sitton
    Social Studies Harcourt Brace
    Science Discover Science
      Scott Foresman
    English Houghton Mifflin
    Reading New Discoveries in the World of Reading
      Silver Burdett
    Drug awareness Education for Self Responsibility
    Math  
Wallace Middle 5th, 6th Math Saxon Math
    Reading Silver Burdett
    Handwriting D'Nealian
    English Houghton Mifflin
      Shurley Method
    Spelling Rebecca Sitton
    Science Scott Foresman
    Social Studies HBJ Stories in Time
    Health Being Healthy
    Drug education Education for Self Responsibility
Source: MPISD.
(*) Indicates bilingual curriculum

Exhibit 2-53
Curriculum and Instruction Programs
Used at MPISD Junior High and High Schools
1998-99
School Grade Subject Program
Junior High school 7th English Scope English, New Jersey Writing, Making Connections (ESL)
    Literature Adventures in Literature I, Star Walk, Voices (ESL), Noble Pursuits
    History Texas Our Texas
    Science Science I
    Mathematics Saxon, Mathematics in Action, Merill Pre-Algebra
    Spanish I Dime
    Art II A World of Images
    Career Investigation Your Career Adventure
  8th English Scope English, New Jersey Writing, Making Connections (ESL)
    Literature Adventures in Literature II, Worlds Beyond, Voices (ESL), Lofty Achievements
    History American Journal
    Science Science II
    Mathematics Saxon, Mathematics in Action, Merill Pre-Algebra, Algebra I
    Spanish I Dime
    Art I Images and Ideas
    Career Investigation Your Career Adventure
    Health Health
High School N/A English Basic English Composition and other materials, Writer's Craft, Adventures in Reading, Adventures in Appreciation, Adventures in American Literature, Adventures in British Literature
    Mathematics Mathematics (MacMillian), Number Power, PLATO, Practical Mathematics - Consumer Application, Graphics Calculators, Advanced Mathematics (Houghton Mifflin), Calculus: Graphical, Numerical, analytical (Addison-Wesley) and other materials
    Science Fearon Biology, TEKs for Science, The Class Computer Program, Web of Life, Biology Alive video series, Biological Concepts, Biological Simulations, RESC VIII video selection, MD Anderson videos, Universe, Elementary Modern Physics, Health Physics, Astronomy, and other materials
    Spanish Paso a Paso, Dime, Mundo 21, Galleria de Arte y Vida, and other materials
    French Various textbooks and accompanying reading
    ESL Teaching English Through Action, Sing-a Rhymes, D'Nealian Handwriting, Write Track, Writer's Express, Merill Pre-Algebra, Essentials for High School Mathematics, and other materials
    World Geography, World History, US History, Government, Economics World Geography (Glencoe), Patterns of Civilizations (Prentice Hall), The Story of America (Prentice-Holt-Rinehart-Winston), Magruder's Government - Texas Edition (Prentice Hall), Economics - Principles and Practice (Glencoe), and other materials
    CATE Included in Exhibit 2-65
Source: MPISD

FINDING

District staff, principals, and teachers appear diligent in their efforts to address program and student needs, but there is no district curriculum plan to assist them by providing a coordinated process through which district priorities can be addressed. There is no district plan for program development nor evaluation established by the board that would provide a framework for addressing district priorities.

District staff have expressed concern over the lack of coordination and articulation throughout the system. This concern could become more important to the teaching staff as they seek to address the needs of a changing student population.

Curriculum guides serve as work plans for classroom teachers and blueprints for student success. Quality curriculum guides clearly state learner goals and objectives, evaluation methods, prerequisite skills, instructional resources, and teaching strategies, and establish minimum teaching and learning expectations. In addition to these basic elements, however, the guides should drive teachers and inspire students to critical thinking and accelerated learning.

In the written survey, teachers were asked to grade the curriculum guides. Fifty-one percent gave grades of "A" or "B," but 43 percent gave a "C" or less. Curriculum guides usually facilitate lesson planning, but more than one-third of all teachers responding to the survey either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, "I have sufficient time to plan and deliver curriculum for my classes." This was particularly true at the intermediate and junior high school campuses where 47 and 75 percent of teachers, respectively, either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

To be effective, a school curriculum must reflect district educational expectations as well as state educational goals in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and tested by the TAAS. TEKS spells out specific skills, learning, and abilities (SKAs) that students must demonstrate at certain points during their schooling to be incorporated into each district's curriculum. The SKAs must be well-documented in curriculum guides that clearly describe the scope of content by grade and subject as well as the sequence in which subjects will be taught as students progress through the grades.

TSPR found a broad variation in the quality of MPISD's guides and, consequently, varied relevance to educators. The MPISD deputy superintendent for Curriculum has been hesitant to develop such guides for MPISD without teacher support.

In many districts, guides created by former educators in isolation from teachers in the classroom become work efforts without meaning. When Houston ISD used campus-level administrators and teachers to work on the guides under the tutelage of curriculum experts, however, it experienced a dramatic change in the curriculum's approval rating among teachers. More importantly, teachers started using guides.

Some districts in Texas and other states with established curricula and guides use the Curriculum Management Audit (CMA), a curriculum management process including five standards, each with a number of measurable indicators. The process examines the district as a whole to see how its curriculum is developed, tested, and taught. Texarkana ISD completed a CMA review marketed through Phi Delta Kappa, International and the Texas Association of School Administrators.

During 1998, the MPISD deputy superintendent responded to growing teacher comments regarding the need for a vertical alignment of the curriculum by establishing a districtwide committee of teachers and principals, which recommended a process for developing a K-12 curriculum through Curriculum Designer, a software product created by Tudor Publishing Company. Not all program areas, however, were represented in the committee evaluation process,

Recommendation 11:

Include all education program areas in designing a new curriculum.

In order to develop a K-12 curriculum, program personnel would ideally provide input about the learning objectives for the types of students they serve, whether they be gifted and talented or at risk. Also, since MPISD has only one school for grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12, respectively, it could be important to make sure that each of the grades is represented. Without comprehensive involvement from all areas, there could be gaps in the curriculum for some or all groups of students, undermining the consistency sought by a sequencing effort.

After the curriculum has been in place for two to three years, the district should consider conducting a CMA review to determine how well the curriculum has addressed TEKS and other district priorities.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The deputy superintendent for Curriculum convenes a committee made up of a broad range of teachers to be trained to work with the Curriculum Designer software. February 1999
2. The committee works with the software to develop a curriculum to cover all grades, subjects, and learning levels. February - May 1999
3. The committee recommends the results to the deputy superintendent for review, modification, and approval. May 1999
4. The deputy superintendent for Curriculum recommends the results to the superintendent for approval. June 1999
5. The deputy superintendent for Curriculum implements the program. July 1999

FISCAL IMPACT

The district has purchased the software and arranged for the training of teachers and administrators. A provision for a monetary stipend ($20/hour) for each teacher who participates is included in the budget. Adjusting the range of participants so that all program areas have representation should have no impact on the total amount expended.

FINDING

MPISD examines the results of new programs or the process by which new programs are implemented through constant monitoring of student performance, responding to individual teacher concerns about student learning, and responding to identified needs of key, at-risk segments of the student population.

The process also involves informal methods such as conversations with parents and students.

In focus group meetings with parents, teachers, and principals, concerns were raised that there was no continuity to the program evaluation process and that programs were added without evaluation of the impact on other programs. Additional concerns were raised about the effectiveness of programs and a concern that "quick fixes" were often employed when parents voiced concerns. For example, the Accelerated Reading program at the high school was originated as a voluntary program to encourage reading; then, it was changed to a mandatory program; and, after a number of parent complaints, it reverted to a voluntary program.

According to the deputy superintendent for Curriculum, program evaluation is not very effective in MPISD. There is no ingrained discipline and no regular interval of evaluation. The deputy superintendent and principals vary widely on how they implement a particular program on their campus and there is no method for ensuring consistency or determining the need for modifications.

Effective program evaluation processes in school districts describe standards to be applied to the evaluation of all district educational programs. In Waco ISD, district staff developed a What Works process permitting schools to use discretionary funds to implement a program if it meets one of three conditions:

  • It is listed in the What Works compendium, which was developed after a comprehensive review of educational research.
  • The campus site-based committee can provide documentation showing the program has produced desired outcomes under similar circumstances.
  • It is a pilot project for which a research design is developed and used to measure results for a period of time not to exceed three years. The principal and site-based committee must agree to discontinue the program if results are not achieved.

Spring ISD also has an effective, structured program evaluation process. According to the district's manual, it is the intent of these processes "to establish program evaluation as an expected, systematic, and continuing process integrated with an organized program development cycle."

An effective process gathers information useful to improving, revising, and determining the worth of programs. Two types of evaluation are included for these purposes: an evaluation designed to improve the implementation of programs in progress, and another designed to measure the merit of new programs.

According to the Standards for Evaluation of Educational Programs, Projects, and Materials produced by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, a national panel of educators, the variables to consider during program evaluation include:

  • degree of program implementation;
  • student performance;
  • quality of teacher preparation and development;
  • teacher satisfaction and concern;
  • use, quantity, and quality of materials and resources;
  • unintended effects;
  • student, parent, and community satisfaction; and
  • adequacy of staffing, facilities, and equipment.

These measures identify both strengths and weaknesses. Instructional and administrative staff can then use results as a basis for program planning and revision.

Recommendation 12:

Develop an ongoing educational program evaluation process.

All program areas should be included in the evaluation cycle including: language arts, mathematics, science, art, health, CATE, special education, foreign languages, music, counseling, library, physical education, pre-K, and the Child Development Center. A timetable should be developed that identifies when each area will be reviewed.

The program evaluations should have discrete measures that identify both strengths and concerns. In addition to the evaluations, MPISD should consider evaluating programs periodically through surveys of parents, teachers, students, and graduates.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The deputy superintendent for Curriculum and the deputy superintendent for Instruction and Technology select a group of teachers for participation on a committee to establish program evaluation methods and measures. March 1999
2. The committee reviews evaluation methods used in other districts and appropriated information from other sources. March - April 1999
3. The committee recommends a series of measures to address the various program evaluation variables and reviews these with the deputy superintendents. April 1999
4. The deputy superintendents make changes as necessary and present them to the superintendent for approval. May 1999
5. The deputy superintendents develop an evaluation schedule for each program over a three to five year period. June 1999
6. The evaluation program is implemented by the deputy superintendents. Ongoing

FISCAL MPACT

The district should pay a one-time stipend of $500 to each of 10 teachers selected to participate on the committee to establish program evaluation methods and measures, or a one-time cost of $5,000.

Recommendation 1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004
Develop an ongoing educational program evaluation process. ($5,000) $0 $0 $0 $0