Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith has set some big goals for district schools, including a 90 percent graduation rate goal in 2013 and pay increases for teachers that will be significantly tied to merit.
The new superintendent is trying to shake things up in the Ogden district. And we've urged teachers and other education professionals to give him a chance to implement some ideas that have met resistance. The results of a recent district audit will provide Smith the opportunity to walk the talk and effect some change.
The recent audit, conducted by RMC Research of Denver, showed that classes in the Ogden district have curriculum that is roughly a year behind the assigned grade levels. That's bad. It means that too many students are not receiving the amount of education necessary to succeed in the future. It also indicates that educators and administrators have less confidence in the learning abilities of the students they are assigned to educate.
It will be Superintendent Smith's responsibility to make sure that the curricula the district provides meets the grades it's intended for. It will be his first major challenge as leader of the Ogden district.
To his credit, the superintendent is aware of the result's importance, describing it as a "serious" problem that needs to be corrected. He opined that the drop in curriculum standards could be the result of over-emphasizing children's wanting to feel successful in the classroom. He said, "I suspect that, gradually, over the years, our children struggled; we wanted to make them feel successful and, bit by bit, allowed the standards to be lowered, so children could feel successful."
According to Smith, there will be changes in curricula that add more rigor to current education. Another suggestion from the report that should be considered is to develop a strong strategy toward improving educational standards and investing in more staff to coordinate and implement a core curriculum that meets appropriate standards.
How successful Smith is at improving the current curricula will serve as a marker of how effective he will be as a leader in Ogden's district who can implement positive change.