Put that curriculum on the website!

MRH high school
As part of my mission to make schools more transparent and accessible to parents, I searched several random area school districts’ websites for curriculum information. Some of them presented detailed information in an easy-to-use format (Rockwood, Mehlville and Maplewood-Richmond Heights), some had partial information (Clayton, Ladue) and some none (Ferguson-Florissant and St. Louis Public Schools).

Rockwood: detailed information on curriculum by content area, info on curriculum development, easy-to-use website
Mehlville: pdf of each grade and high school
MRH: pdf of each school level (elementary, middle, high) and content area, assessment report, easy-to-use website

Clayton: info on curriculum development including names of curriculum coordinators but not information on content level or grade level objectives
Ladue: info limited to elementary math under the district curriculum section

Ferguson-Florissant: no information on district site that I could find via browsing or by search, no info in at least two elementary schools (Airport Elementary, Bermuda Elementary)
SLPS: no information that I could find via browsing, no search available; no info in at least three elementary schools (Adams, Ashland and Cote Brilliante)

Since curriculum drives education, I applaud Rockwood and MRH for having comprehensive, easy-to-use curriculum sections on their websites. Clayton and Ladue have some catching up to do. Ferguson-Florissant and the SLPS are embarrassingly lacking in this area. While I didn’t look at every district’s website, I encourage educators to think about what they include and emphasize on their websites and the message that sends to their parents and broader community.

Need for more transparency, participation in education

Photo by GPTwisted

As quickly as the financial bailout rescue bill was passed (for Congress anyway), it was remarkable in that legislators attempted an announced public markup period, as short as it was. I hope that all legislation will eventually go through this process.

School districts can learn from the Sunlight Foundation and involve the community earlier in the process. Some St. Louis County districts use BoardDocs to post agendas, minutes and supporting documents in an easy-to-access manner. (See Rockwood for an example)

I would like to see them go one step further and open up documents for a public markup period before they make it to the board presentation stage. For example, if a committee is going to recommend changes to content area’s curriculum, posting the proposed changes before the board presentation allows for more parent involvement than the one or two parents selected to be on the committee. This encourages buy-in or at least allows for time to work on consensus.

Openness and transparency can go a long way to bring our schools into the 21st century.