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Germantown School District eyes aggressive standards

District to bring in expert from University of Arkansas

March 11, 2014

Germantown — The School Board voted unanimously Monday to fund the travel expenses of a Common Core, English language arts expert to visit the district.

An ad hoc committee, established to investigate solutions to the development of the district's more intensive Common Core standards, introduced Sandra Stotsky, a professor at University of Arkansas who is credited with developing some of the strongest academic standards (in English language arts) for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Further, she is nationally renown for her in-depth analysis on identifying problems within Common Core's English language arts standards.

The district hopes to use her language arts knowledge to guide them in instituting academic standards that are more rigorous than Common Core.

Stotsky could be a "perfect resource for us to maybe develop the best standards in the country," said board member Brian Medved, during the committee meeting that took place immediately before the School Board meeting.

The board did not specify how much it would pay for her travel expenses, but rather agreed in concept to bring Stotsky here for a visit.

Superintendent Jeff Holmes relayed to the board the importance of finding someone with ample experience in standards development. He stated "teachers are having a tough time grasping how the district can move away from Common Core to going down its own path."

The district approved funding her travel expenses for April 9, so she can meet with Germantown High School faculty and board members to discuss a potential template for the development and future launching of newly adapted Core standards within the district.

The committee also tackled another obstacle on the path to new Core standards adoption, namely the district's ability to communicate its plan with parents and the community.

"Another thing we are working on is our website," Medved said, "to have our standards online for everyone to see. … We will be able to show the direction the district is heading."

The district plans to roll out the new website in late April.

School Board President Bob Soderberg attested the district is "heading in the right direction" in regard to rising above the floor of Common Core.

"Germantown continues to lead the pack in a leadership role in developing our own standards," Soderberg said.

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