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Albion School Board approves spending nearly $70,000 on new English Language Arts curriculum


By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot

The Albion School Board approved implementing a new English Language Arts curriculum for the district Tuesday night, hoping to improve state standardized test scores.

The new curriculum will cost the district $65,000 to $70,000, meaning the board will dip into the general fund, and it will focus on creating continuity and accountability to teaching all of Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) in grades K-12.

In other business

Also Tuesday, the Albion School Board:
• Voted unanimously to appoint Derrick Crum as the new Albion High School principal. He will replace contract employee Stan DeVoir, who vacated the post for medical reasons.
• Appointed Shawnette Spicer to the school board seat vacated by Chris Mullen on April 13 by beating out three other candidates reviewed by the board.
• Passed a resolution that allows Superintendent Frederick Clarke to gather information on survey companies for possible future bonds.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to suffer more and we’ll have to dip further into our fund balance — we won’t have a fund balance next year — but when you weigh that against not having a solid aligned curriculum in place, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Superintendent Frederick Clarke said.

Albion’s reading results on the 2009 Michigan Educational Assessment Program test were mixed. While 80.5 percent of the district’s third-graders met or exceeded the state average, 54.5 percent of seventh-graders and 62.5 percent of eighth-graders did.

After Albion voted down a new curriculum last year, the Calhoun County Intermediate School District began an assessment of the district last summer. In January, a committee was formed with ISD members, teachers and administrators.

Harrington Elementary School Principal Craig Wilson said it became clear that what the district was doing wasn’t working, and teacher consultant Viveca Skean said wholesale changes should have a tremendous impact.

“We believe that reading, writing, speaking and listening are all part of the process … and the needs of the students will revolve around hitting GLCEs,” she said.

Approximately $59,000 will be spent on the new K-6 ELA curriculum.

Teachers will be provided with curriculum maps and pacing guides specific to each grade, which are essentially teacher-friendly calendars that show what needs to be taught and how it benefits students.

That money will also cover more extensive professional development and subscriptions to programs that allow teachers access to worksheets, texts and resources.

The seventh- to 12th-grade curriculum will be based on the Macomb County Genre Units program, which provides teachers everything from rubrics to writing prompts.

The district already has many of the needed resources to implement it, thanks to contributions from the ISD, and the board agreed to pay about $6,000 plus the cost of textbooks for the curriculum.

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About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.

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