Board discusses statewide graduation standards

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At its Thursday meeting, the Moffat County School District Board of Education:

• Approved amendments to the student record policy. Students 18 years and older are allowed to view their records, and other parties must obtain written consent from the student.

• Approved amendments to the student entrance age policy. Parents of students entering the School District must provide a legal birth certificate or other acceptable record to prove their child is old enough to attend school.

• Approved new policies outlining procedures for facilities development, facilities funding and bond campaigns. The board believed it would serve future boards to have policies outlined.

• Changed the date of its next meeting to Tuesday, Nov. 27.

• Bid farewell to board member Steve Hafey, who served eight years on the Board of Education after teaching English in the district.

The board presented Hafey with a memento for his years on the board and publicly acknowledged his hard work and dedication.

Hafey was sad to leave the board with so much work left to do, but said he trusted the other board members to keep making the school district better.

"I think the district made progress by leaps and bounds," Hafey said. "But education is an ongoing process, and it's not done. We just need to keep the philosophy of win/win: the community wins and the students win.

"We have a lot to improve. Our school board is really working toward that.

"I just love the whole gamut of education. I think we need enthusiasm in education, and I hope I've done a little bit to help that."

Also

The Colorado Association of School Boards investigated changing the state's standards and assessments for public school students.

It boils down to whether the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests are serving the students well enough. There is also a question if the standards required in the tests are the best for modern schools.

The schools should be wary of depending on CSAP scores for validation, said Jo Ann Baxter, Moffat County School District Board of Education president.

"I worry we spend too much time teaching for the test," Baxter said. "Teaching is more than knowing content. It's more than teaching 2 + 2."

Moffat County has done a reasonable job reaching out to students beyond helping with test scores, Baxter added,

The School District has an intervention program, where students who don't meet certain district requirements - requirements beyond the state's - get more one-on-one time with teachers.

— In the next year, there may be more debate in education beyond money for public schools.

While finances are difficult to change because of Colorado Constitution amendments which prevent the Legislature from raising taxes, politicians and educators have not stopped tinkering with what they can.

Colorado is one of five states without statewide high school graduation requirements, such as mandating how many years of math or a foreign language every high school student must pass.

The state congress has started a conversation on the issue.

Some congressmen think public education would better serve students if there were centrally mandated requirements instead of allowing school districts to come up with their own requirements.

Their concern is that school districts may not require enough of their students to facilitate entering higher education.

There will most likely be some form of "graduation requirement legislation" introduced in the next session beginning January 2008, said Jo Ann Baxter, Moffat County School District Board of Education president.

That is not the best thing for school districts or students, Baxter said. She believes in allowing students to choose a path that is best for them.

"Students don't always want those things," Baxter said. Moffat County School District gives "good counsel to college-bound students that they need four years of math and two years of foreign language."

At a Colorado Association of School Boards conference last week, Baxter heard legislators were looking at four years of English and math and three years of science and social studies.

Moffat County does require English every year of high school, but its requirements in the other core subjects were less than what's being discussed in Denver, Baxter said.

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