By Julie Wiessner
For the second year in a row, the Holbrook Unified School District will utilize a program called Beyond Textbooks (BT), a curriculum designed and developed by the Vail Unified School District to align curriculum to what is taught in the classroom and to the outcomes of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) assessment.
Vail is one of the top performing school districts in the state, ranked an “A” performing school by the Arizona Department of Education.
Dr. Robbie Koerperich, superintendent of the Holbrook district, said, “We follow Vail’s guidelines closely; they are very successful and we want to piggyback on that success. To develop all the details of the curriculum like Vail has would take our district a tremendous amount of time, money and energy.”
The web-based curriculum can be accessed by all the teachers in the district, making it a common platform from which all the teachers can work. Not only does it help guide when and what grade level standards are taught, it aligns with common assessments to track student progress for re-teaching and enrichment opportunities.
Park Elementary School uses BT to guide staff in what to teach, but teachers deliver the lessons with the best methods for the students in their rooms. Once students are tested and the tests reviewed, teachers determine if re-teaching is necessary.
According to Park School Principal Connie McPherson, “BT provides webinars to assist teachers in delivery of lessons, transitioning to Common Core and the assessment process.”
McPherson added, “Overall, BT has proven to be effective at Park, as indicated through district and state assessments. We have seen a significant increase of students mastering standards in the area of math and reading.”
There are more than 80 districts throughout Arizona that use BT, and allows district teachers the ability to access many effective lessons.
“The BT system is designing a scope and sequence to integrate the new Common Core standards. We will fully implement the (new) math standards this year and language arts will be fully implemented next year,” said Koerperich.
According to Indian Wells Elementary School Principal Jeri McKinnon, “Students are taught according to the BT curriculum map, are assessed and must score 80 percent to achieve mastery. Re-teaching or enrichment activities follow according to students scores.”
Quarterly assessments are given; the results indicate whether students need after school tutoring to help them gain mastery.
Hulet Elementary School Principal Michael McClellan agreed with McKinnon, adding, “We also utilize a Daily Math Skill program that’s purpose is to strengthen the students’ basic fact knowledge, which is crucial for mathematical success.”
Holbrook High School Principal Lance Phaturos noted, “It (BT) provides our English and math teachers an efficient platform to internalize and implement the newly defined rigor associated with the Common Core Literacy and math standards.”
It is also an open sharing tool and allows anyone to add, delete or revise lessons in order to improve them.
Any teacher may come up with a better, more effective way to teach a certain standard and share it, improving the effectiveness of teaching that lesson.
By Julie Wiessner