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story.lead_photo.caption The Fayetteville School District has begun a search for two executive directors.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The search has begun for two executive directors to focus on curriculum and principal evaluations for the School District.

The executive director of secondary education and the executive director of elementary and middle level education will work for Steven Weber, associate superintendent for teaching and learning.

Fayetteville School District Leadership, 2016-17

Superintendent: Matthew Wendt

Associate superintendents

• Kim Garrett, associate superintendent for administrative services

• Steven Weber, associate superintendent for teaching and learning

• John L Colbert, associate superintendent for support services

• There is a vacancy for chief financial officer

— Staff Report

The recently created positions are part of a greater focus on what happens in classrooms across the district, Weber said.

"The system we're putting in place will help student growth," Weber said. "It will also improve our instruction. We'll have timely data."

The system includes a curriculum review cycle and brings back a testing system to provide students, teachers and parents with ongoing feedback about student progress throughout the school year, he said. Weber also plans to shift the focus of some campus employees from coaching teachers to supporting struggling learners.

The additional leadership positions will give Weber more opportunity to lead curriculum and instruction, he said. He plans to be more visible in schools.

The directors will earn a salary in the range of $100,000 to $110,000, Weber said. The elementary and middle level director will work with teachers from pre-kindergarten through middle school. The secondary education director will focus on educators for the seventh through 12th grades and will work with vocational and higher education institutions.

"As we focus on supporting teaching and learning, these leaders will support teachers, administrators, students and families," Weber said. "The growth of our principals and assistant principals is critically important. The executive directors will support leadership development."

They also will be involved in curriculum development, he said.

Weber will ask the School Board to approve a curriculum review and development cycle at the March 30 meeting. If approved, curriculum review will begin in the fall for mathematics and music education, with implementation of new curricula for those subjects in the 2018-19 school year.

"Math was the weakest area," he said. "This is something we know we need to improve."

Other content areas that will be part of the review cycle in subsequent years are science, guidance counseling and college and career readiness, English, health and physical education, social studies, world languages, visual arts, career and technical education, preparation for ACT and SAT, and performing arts.

Managing curriculum has grown increasingly complex for school districts, said Richard Abernathy, executive director for the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators. Schools have to abide by state and federal rules and regulations affecting curriculum, he said. Many large districts now write curriculum. It's a function regional education service cooperatives provide for smaller districts.

District-level curriculum administrators keep teachers and principals informed and trained on curriculum and curriculum requirements, Abernathy said.

In public education, standards tell teachers what to teach but not how to teach, said Sarah McKenzie, executive director of the Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Curriculum refers to what teachers are using to teach the standards.

Research has shown teachers and principals have the greatest impact on student learning, but it's harder to know whether one curriculum will make a greater difference than another, she said. One gauge of the impact of curriculum is comparing a district's performance on state tests with other districts of similar demographics.

Graduation rates and the rate of students going to colleges are other pieces of information for evaluating whether students are learning what they need to know to prepare for the next step, she said.

"It's important to look at how it's serving all the students in a district, not just the average student," McKenzie said.

McKenzie also suggests districts seek feedback from parents on curriculum.

Teachers will have more information on how their pupils are growing in understanding next school year, Weber said. Principals, teachers, leaders and parents have asked to bring back the Measures of Academic Progress tests from the Portland-based Northwest Education Association, Weber said.

The tests are given three times a year, provide immediate feedback to teachers, and give recommendations for each child, Weber said.

Weber also wants to provide more support for struggling learners. He intends to have 19 academic interventionists by shifting the focus of instructional facilitators, who primarily focus on assisting teachers, he said.

"We want to consistently be able to give interventions to students at every school," Weber said.

NW News on 03/25/2017

Print Headline: New positions in Fayetteville part of focus on learning system

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