State officials are examining the Paradise Valley Unified School District’s curriculum after the district failed to meet certain standards under the No Child Left Behind Act four years in a row.
Paradise Valley is one of 19 districts to face state intervention because it failed to meet the same goals with English language learner and specialeducation students over multiple years.
This is the first time the state has stepped in regarding districts that need help.
Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C., said it would make sense to change the areas in which the schools are struggling.
“The way the law was written, it was assuming these districts were dysfunctional districts,” he said. “But in districts that are generally doing well but not making the grade for all of its students, that doesn’t call for dramatic overhaul. It means the district needs more work in serving its (Englishlanguage learner) students, for example.”
Paradise Valley will work with a coach from the state Department of Education to revamp parts of its curriculum, said Robert Allen, director of assessment for the district. The district had a choice of changing the curriculum or reallocating funding to make improvements, he said
“If the goal is to help kids improve, then our target and our focus has to look at how our curriculum is designed,” Allen said.
That means looking at teacher training, techniques teachers use to instruct students and making sure the district’s curriculum aligns with state standards, he said.
The district is also making sure individual students who are struggling on state tests get the extra help they need, said district spokeswoman Judi Willis.
“I hope part of the message is that we’re not giving up on anybody,” Willis said.
Paradise Valley has already started talking to its coach and working on its improvement plan, Allen said.
“Aspects of the plan are being drafted,” Allen said. “They get submitted to the Department of Ed and they give us feedback, but it’s not a finalized plan yet.”
Tribune writer Andrea Falkenhagen contributed to this report.