Curriculum audit results to be presented

CHAMPAIGN – A team of experts who have reviewed the curriculum in Champaign schools will report what they've found at two public sessions this week.

Results of the study will be presented to Champaign school board members at a special meeting at 7 tonight. Community members and district employees are invited to attend that session, and they're also invited to attend a meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday for the community, including business and community leaders. Both meetings are at district headquarters at the Mellon Administrative Center.

Team members will talk to teachers and other district employees at several other scheduled sessions.

When the audit began in March, lead auditor Larry Frase talked about the business at hand.

"We believe curriculum should be the focus that drives the district because curriculum defines what children learn," said Frase, a San Diego State University education professor. "We examine and analyze a district against five standards and offer our findings to show discrepancies between where the district is and where it should be."

Frase is also vice president of Iowa-based Curriculum Management Systems Inc., and he and seven other educators who are part of that system reviewed Champaign's curriculum. The study cost $50,000, and it's one part of a comprehensive review of district systems and buildings to give administrators a clear picture of how the district is working and educating and what needs to be done to make it perform better.

Equity is "a huge part of what we do," Frase said of one key part of the study. He said the auditors also look at what's being taught in the classroom, and review district policies, budgets and other key components of the educational system.

The five standards by which they measure performance are control, direction, connectivity and equity, feedback and productivity.

"It's valuable for making good decisions about the direction we need to move," said Dorland Norris, deputy superintendent of achievement and equity, who had experience with the auditing process in Texas.

"Schools' business is teaching and learning, and if transportation's a barrier to that, we need to change it," Norris said. "If facilities are a barrier, we need to improve them. It tells us what we need to do to embrace students' achievement."

You can reach Anne Cook at (217) 351-5217 or via e-mail at acook@news-gazette.com.

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