Instruction, curriculum must be a focus

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If you have been paying attention to the ICCSD, it might not be news that the district has a disappointingly large and persistent achievement gap. We have said we want to see improvements in math and reading proficiency.

To address this ongoing problem, we have talked about school attendance boundary changes to pursue demographic balance, weighted resource allocation models, implicit bias training, preschool, class sizes, and the Facilities Master Plan.

What we are not talking about — at least not publicly, as a community — is curriculum and instruction.

If we want to see better reading results, we should be discussing how to directly improve our approach to early reading instruction. This approach is supported by the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support framework we are using in the district.

The idea is to support student achievement by starting with ensuring we are using evidence-based curriculum and instruction in the classroom so that fewer children will require instructional interventions. Improvements here are an opportunity to reduce the need for and importance of outside tutoring and parental help, and thus, improve equity in our educational programs.

To talk about curriculum and instruction is to talk about the purpose of our schools, about our educational values, about what we hope the children of our district will gain from attending our schools. The curriculum and instruction offered by public schools — publicly funded and publicly governed through an elected school board — is, inescapably, a matter of public concern.

Facilities issues have dominated much of the public debate in our district in recent years. Our children need a school board that can work on improving facilities and, at the same time, work on improving the programs that take place in those facilities. I hope that by running I can help make that happen.

• Karen Woltman of North Liberty is seeking a four-year term on the Iowa City school board

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