The Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction periodically reviews curricula to determine how well they meet established grade-level expectations. Relevant Strategies has completed multiple curriculum reviews for the state in a variety of subjects, including mathematics, science, English language arts, and sexual health education. Relevant Strategies developed a standardized approach, and analyzed data from review teams who evaluated instructional materials on hundreds of criteria. The challenge was to collect, synthesize and present the data in a way that was meaningful, valuable to school districts, and statistically sound. We took special care to design an approach that would result in statistically valid outcomes and be flexible enough for use in future curriculum evaluation projects. The final reports give school districts a comprehensive review of selected curricula, and identified how well they aligned with state standards. Recent reviews have used an entirely virtual approach, with web conferences for training reviewers, surveys and electronic forms for collecting the data, and an interactive online database for publishing the results.
Support for school districts
The Lake Washington School District is one of Washington’s largest, serving more than 23,000 students in Seattle’s eastern suburbs, including Redmond, home of Microsoft. The district’s intention to adopt a new elementary math curriculum brought intense scrutiny. Relevant Strategies advised the district in creating a robust and inclusive process for curriculum review. We assessed and improved data collection tools, taking special care to design an approach that would result in statistically valid outcomes. We described the results of a statewide instructional materials review; identified key steps and potential pitfalls for the district’s review; and advised on statistical analysis protocols. In short, we helped the district create an objective, comprehensive, and statistically sound process that resulted in a decision that the larger community could support.
Better help for students
Washington State invests almost a half billion dollars annually in interventions for struggling students. Unfortunately, outcomes were highly variable. The legislature directed OSPI to convene expert panels for mathematics, English language arts, and reducing disruptive behavior to identify best practices, in conjunction with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. The expert panels reviewed existing research and current practices, and identified a menu of best practices from which school districts can select interventions, using state funds. Relevant Strategies provided facilitation, overall project coordination, report writing and analysis services.
Increasing cultural sensitivity
We provided facilitation for the team responsible for creating the state’s new health and fitness standards, and led the bias and sensitivity review of the standards. Notable accomplishments include integration with national health and physical education standards, an updated approach to physical education, renewed focus on nutrition, and integration of sexual health education standards.
We also performed a bias and sensitivity review of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics, the Next Generation Science Standards, and advised on the process for reviewing the sexual health education standards.
Financial literacy for all
The Washington Legislature was concerned that residents needed greater personal financial literacy to be successful workers and protect their own financial interests. Accordingly, it created the Financial Education Public-Private Partnership, administered through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Relevant Strategies coordinated the efforts of the diverse partnership, facilitated the group, and researched financial literacy education standards, reviewed curricula, and wrote the annual reports to the legislature. The result was a collection of standards and resources that educators could easily use to teach financial literacy in their classrooms. It also resulted in a broad coalition of private sector companies and public agencies, working together to create a comprehensive network of financial literacy tools.