Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 11:27 pm
Cambridge schools may snub state survey
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By Lisa Hammer firstname.lastname@example.org
CAMBRIDGE — School superintendent Tom Akers objects to participating in a survey of students, teachers and parents created by the University of Chicago for the Chicago school system.
Mr. Akers told board members Thursday night he was very proud of the Cambridge school system and felt the survey was the state's way of trying to take control away from local people. Mr. Akers plans to draft a letter of opposition to the survey for the board's consideration at a future board meeting.
Grade school principal Shelly Capps said examples of questions might be, "Do you feel safe going home from school?" or "How often do you communicate with your curriculum director?"She noted school staff are curriculum directors in small districts such as Cambridge.
"There isn't an answer that would apply to our kids," she said.
Board members asked of the consequences in not participating in the survey.Mr. Akers said the state might withdraw full recognition of a district, but he currently knew of no risk of financial aid. He noted an email among Henry County superintendents indicated there were no long-term ramifications.
"Withholding state aid is not on the table at this time," he said.
Board president Steve Evans wanted to know what other area districts are doing. Board member Breanna Leander noted if all districts participate and show public education does work, the state might be less likely to take action.
Also at Thursday's meeting, math teachers presented their new curriculum with common core standards.
Title I math teacher Heather Hull said second-grade students have tested between first-grade and fourth-grade levels.Ms. Capps praised Ms. Hull for her work on the program.
"I've never had a teacher show more initiative on her own," she said. "In the middle of the night, you're getting emails from Heather because she's so excited."
Junior high math teacher Pat Warren said she didn't issue textbooks this year for seventh or eighth grade math, although they might use them now and then. Instead, she said, the classes work on problem-solving and perseverance. She noted students might be asked to solve how much pizza someone ate if three-fourths of it was available, and the person ate two-thirds of that.
"I think we're improving," she said. "There's still a long way to go."
High school teacher Rob Stone also demonstrated a Lego mindstorm robot, adding students love to program them. The change to common core standards won't affect the upper grades as much as the lower grades, he said, noting, in the future, the state may change to simply having "Math I," "Math II," "Math III" and Math IV" with a little bit of algebra, geometry and other topics in each level.
"That's going to be a gigantic switch for the entire state," Mr. Stone said. 'It's going to be a lot of work to get everything in line for that. It's going to be a bear."
The board also learned the district's school policy book is now online.