State grants JCPS waiver to deviate from core content standards - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State grants JCPS waiver to deviate from core content standards at revamped Maupin Elementary

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The newly designed Catalpa Program at Maupin Elementary School will be allowed to deviate slightly in the sequence in which the Kentucky Core Academic Standards are taught, according to a waiver request granted by the state board of education on Wednesday.

Jefferson County Public Schools requested the waiver earlier this year, asking for permission to change the way in which the core content is taught at Maupin so that it aligns with the Waldorf-inspired education model.

“All of the core content will still be taught, just not in the same order,” said Jonathan Lowe, director of strategy for JCPS. “We are in no way trying to not teach the standards. We are attempting to teach them in a different way.”

David Cook, director of innovation and partner engagement with the Kentucky Department of Education, said the state recommended that the board approve the request, but in a limited way.

“The Waldorf model in its purest form still contains every single standard in the Kentucky Core Academic Standards – it will not miss a thing,” he said. “It's just going to be taught in a different sequence. For example, in our system, some content may be taught in the third grade, but with Waldorf, it may be taught in the fifth grade.”

As a result, the state board will require JCPS to have parents to sign off on two things.

The first is that they must acknowledge that their child will still take the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) assessment on the regular assessment cycle, but that their child may not have received instruction in some of the content at the time of assessment.

Cook said the state board is requiring that Maupin's instruction will have to catch up to the Common Core's subject matter sequencing at the fifth and eighth grade levels.

“That's where we drew the line,” he said. “We want to make sure that by the time a child takes the K-PREP in fifth grade, he or she will have been taught all the elementary content, and that by eighth grade, they will have been taught all of the middle school content.”

The second thing Maupin parents will have to sign off on is the acknowledgement that if their child moves from Maupin to another school, the child is likely to have missed specific pieces of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards because those standards will not have been taught at the grade level specified within the standards.

“It's important for the families to know this on the front end and so they understand what may happen,” Cook said. "The Waldorf model has all sorts of assessments that will take place during the year so parents should know where their child stands."

The Kentucky Department of Education designated JCPS as one of seven school districts in the state that would be allowed to break out of the traditional structure of public education and experiment with learning. As a result, the district was tasked with finding different ways to boost student achievement.

In October, the JCPS school board voted to transform Maupin, located on Catalpa Street in the Parkland neighborhood, into a Waldorf-inspired school – an approach that uses the arts to teach academics in a brain-based and developmentally appropriate manner. 

The school will feature a humanities-based curriculum that incorporates movement, visual art, storytelling or drama with an overall goal of boosting test scores, Lowe said.

According to 2013-14 test scores, only 24 percent of Maupin's students were proficient in math, while only 26 percent were proficient in reading.

Superintendent Donna Hargens said the Catalpa School will cost approximately $370,000 for the first four years of implementation – mainly to cover professional development and summer institutes for teachers.

PREVIOUS | JCPS school board approves creating Catalpa School at Maupin Elementary, hears two other school proposals

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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