Tuesday, August 07, 2001

School, parents settle on curriculum

By Scott Wartman
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — The Ockerman Middle School Council and concerned parents of seventh- and eight-grade students reached a compromise on a proposed curriculum change Monday.

        The old proposal, which would have taken effect this fall, called for full year of science courses in seventh grade and a full year of social studies in eighth grade.

        It was designed to match curriculum with state testing. Kentucky students are tested in science in seventh grade and in social studies in eighth.

        Many parents at the Boone County school, however, had concerns about focusing on one subject for a whole year and about current eight-graders being caught in the transition.

        In the compromise, the first semester of seventh grade will have two classes in science and the second semester two classes in social studies. In eighth grade, it reverses: two social studies classes the first semester and two science classes second.

        Ockerman Principal Mel Carroll said focusing intensely on a subject will boost test scores — and funding for the school.

        “Let there be no mistakes about it,” Carroll said. “Test scores are driving how schools run and are how the state holds schools accountable.”

        At Monday's meeting, more than 20 parents expressed distaste for the original proposal and said they thought children were being short-changed.

        “I think science is very important to my daughter,” said Mike Grogan, father of an eighth-grader. “Over the course of time, as a child grows, their maturity level grows, and so does their retention level. I think they should have a continuing opportunity to experience these subjects each year.”

        Richard Ingraham, a school council member and Ockerman Middle School teacher, argued that focusing on one subject, which he called “immersion learning,” can be helpful in retention and be an effective way of teaching.

        Parents also said they were angry at how little notice they were given of the changes. School starts in a week.

        “We should have addressed this in the spring,” Mr. Carroll said. “It was an oversight.”

        The five council members — Mr. Carroll, two teachers and two parents — passed the compromise unanimously.


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