Eastern Washington University has been awarded a $149,995 College Spark Washington Community Grant to partner with Community Colleges of Spokane and K-12 school districts in the greater-Spokane region to improve the alignment of curriculum and assessments with each other and to the Common Core State Standards.
The annual, competitive statewide Community Grants Program focuses on building the effectiveness of grantees working with low-income students in middle, high school, and college by funding new and promising practices that help students be college-ready and transition successfully to college. "We are supporting organizations across the state working hard and making progress on postsecondary access, persistence, and completion rates for low-income students," said Christine McCabe, Executive Director at College Spark Washington.
Participants in this grant project will work to decrease the number of students who require remedial education in college and increase the number of students who earn their first college-level credit in English or math. The project will bring faculty and administrators together from Eastern Washington University, Community Colleges of Spokane, and participating k-12 school districts to develop a deep understanding of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and the English language arts. "The College Spark grant will allow high school teachers and college professors to align curriculum around the rigorous expectations of the Common Core State Standards," said Wendy Watson, Director of the Secondary Curriculum at Spokane Public Schools. "The goal is for students to transition seamlessly from high school to postsecondary coursework without the need for remediation."
This project builds upon work already done or in progress in the area of aligning curriculum and expectations. These faculty leaders have identified a highly effective approach for working across sectors. The purpose of the project is to take this work to the next level; we plan to significantly expand recent efforts by engaging a much wider group of faculty. New high schools will join our work, and each partner institution will involve more instructors. Expansion of our work to include more schools and more instructors at each institution will lead to a greater regional impact than would be possible without the expansion.
Participants will engage in the systematic study of selected curriculum materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards and will work to gain a shared understanding of the expectations for students' performance. Course activities and assignments will be designed jointly (or when adapted from elsewhere, will be explored and studied jointly), and faculty will collaborate on the review of samples of students' work. In this way, faculty from high schools, community colleges, and the university will better understand the expectations placed on students. Collaboration on this work will inform participants of differing expectations, facilitate identification of gaps in the curriculum, and allow faculty to work together to better understand common student difficulties and ways to address those difficulties.