Schools in Kent to be put to the test in national project

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Kent school district is one of 15 in the United States recently selected to participate in a national school reform project that will help the district evaluate its curriculum.

The Standard-Bearer project focuses on system-wide standards to ensure quality education for children. The Center for Leadership in School Reform is heading the pilot project in partnership with both the North Central Association, which is the accreditation organization for midwestern states, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a similar organization for southern states.

The three-year project, which will kick off in March, involves an internal and external evaluation of the district's curriculum, said Kent Superintendent Marc Crail.

"The external evaluation will be done by people from the other 14 districts, and we'll be the external evaluators for some of those districts," he said. "This is a huge undertaking."

Kent was asked to join the project, organized by educational guru Philip Schlechty, president and CEO of CSLR, after being nominated by Summit County Superintendent Denny Buzzelli, Crail said.

"They came to us and said, 'We think you have the component of being a Standard-Bearer school district,' and so we were invited. It was very flattering," he said.

"I think at the end of the three years, the information that we gain from taking a good look at ourselves and our programs means that we are going to be able to serve the kids better," he said. "We'll know what we're doing well and what we want to concentrate on. It's time to streamline and get down to what is important and effective."

Kent will join districts from Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, California, Florida and Michigan at a meeting in Louisville, Ky., in March. The other Ohio districts participating are Hilliard and Deleware schools.

Crail, along with Board of Education President Janet Rusnack, Holden School Principal Timothy Dortch, and teachers Janice Hutchison and Jessica Burkey, will represent Kent at the meeting.

Crail said the entire project for all 15 districts will cost nearly $1 million. The money is expected to come from foundations such as the Ford Foundation, Bell South, Kellogg and the Jennings Foundation in Cleveland, although Crail said much of the funding hasn't yet been confirmed.

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