"Students in the Clay Community School Corporation are receiving an education that is current with the Indiana Department of Education course descriptions and state adoptions," Director of Curriculum and Grants Kathy Knust told The Brazil Times.
With class sizes growing, parents have raised concerns that students are not receiving the best possible education.
"We understand the concerns of parents and the large number of classes, especially for the younger students," Knust said. "But the administration and teachers are doing everything they can for the students."
Guidelines that are released by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) have been met in every classroom, Knust reaffirmed.
"All classroom instruction has been aligned with the Indiana Learning Standards," Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Kim Tucker told The Brazil Times. "Teachers have spent a great deal of time reviewing the curriculum framework and power standards, and 'unpacking' those specific indicators to determine what students 'should know and be able to do' at the conclusion of the course or grade level."
Both Knust and Tucker have explained the work that has gone into the meeting the levels set forth by the state.
"Clay Community Schools have gone to great lengths to operate on a data-driven basis." Tucker said. "Data from assessments such as ISTEP+, NWEA, and DIBELS, gives administrators, teachers, parents and students real time information to help modify classroom instruction to better meet the dynamic need of each child."
"We do not make instructional decisions on only certain areas," Knust stated. "We want parents to know that we look at all of the data and we work with all the teachers to make sure that all students meet the adequate standards set forth by the IDOE."
Knust produced a report showing students in kindergarten classes with more than 25 students were still meeting, if not doing better, than some students in classes with less than 25 students.
"We as an administration want everyone to realize that the needs of students are being met," Knust said. "Students are receiving an education based on the guideline of the IDOE and they are succeeding, even in larger classes."
"Teachers take advantage of on-going training in standards alignment, data dissemination, differentiated instruction and curriculum development to ensure that their classroom instructional technique is modeled on best practice research," Tucker said.
For older students the options in courses increase.
"For high school students in the county, a handbook is offered to explain the classes that are available," Knust said. "The students will list the classes that they would like to take, knowing the requirements for each diploma as well as the GPA that is needed, students and parents can make informed decisions based on the guidelines and requirements."
Certain classes are combined to see that all students receive their required credit for the diploma of their choice.
"There are some classes, such as language classes, and trades classes that have multiple levels in them," she added. "This is to provide the student, who can work independently from the classroom, to have the opportunity to talk to the teacher and ask questions."
Knust was also able to explain the cost benefits of combining classes.
"By combining certain classes, that still meet the requirements of the IDOE, the corporation is able to provide students with the necessary instruction to prepare them for post secondary education, and saving money by filling the classroom," Knust said. "Students are also given the opportunity in these classes to mentor other students."
She was adamant when talking about teachers and classroom sizes.
"We have never paid one teacher to teach just one student," Knust said. "Teachers are allowed to volunteer their time at their discretion."
Tucker went on to explain one of the goals of the corporation is to provide more dual credits with area universities.
"Giving students the opportunity to take classes now while in a smaller classroom setting with an average of 25-30 students, before they go to a possible university where a classroom can have anywhere from 20-100 students, will save them time and money, is huge," Tucker said. "This opportunity already exist, but we really want to expand on this and go further."
Tucker explained how officials are currently in the process of planning a summit.
"School leaders are in the process of planning the Clay Community High School Summit to bring together business and community members, post-secondary partners, teachers, parents and students," Tucker said.
"The purpose is to begin dialogue about school to work preparation in the two high schools and to gauge employer satisfaction with graduate academic and job skills," she said.
"The ultimate goal is to provide high school instructional leaders with information, resources and support from the business community to reframe and retool their instructional programs and practices and better prepare graduates for their post-secondary pursuits," she said.
Knust explained how the corporation students in the county compared to students in different corporations with the same socioeconomic levels as those in Clay County.
"The numbers show that students are still learning and they are showing the growth that is expected by the state for each age range," Knust said. "When compared to other schools of our socioeconomic area we are average, but we want to do better."
"The job of the Clay Community School Corporation is to provide a foundation for the future of the children and to help make them into well rounded characters for the future of our community," she said. "We believe that through the hard work and dedication of the staff and teachers we will accomplish these goals."