Pasco School District pushes to improve student writing

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldApril 9, 2013 

The Pasco School District is pushing forward with efforts to improve student writing throughout the district.

Kathy Hayden, the district's executive director of curriculum and professional development, told the Pasco School Board on Tuesday that a district committee is working on re-emphasizing writing throughout all grades and subjects.

As Pasco and other districts across the state prepare to implement the Common Core State Standards, she said, student communication skills are of increasing performance.

The standards are a set of language arts and math benchmarks being implemented in most states across the country.

The committee formed this winter, Hayden said, out of concern from district administrators.

"We have noticed that writing has become an area of question," she told the board. Hayden added that the district's recent focus on mathematics might have taken some attention away from writing.

Amy Kohn, the district's literary teacher on special assignment, and Shannon Lockard, a literary coach at Ochoa Middle School, are working with other teachers and administrators within the district to look at the new writing standards and what can be done to improve student performance.

The work is expected to continue through the next school year and some of it will rely upon how new standardized testing is implemented.

Also Tuesday:

w Board members might decide in the coming months whether to seek to authorize charter schools.

The state Board of Education still is developing the rules and regulations that will govern charter schools, which were approved by voters in the fall. So far, 12 school districts, including the Sunnyside School District, have told the state of their interest.

However, Pasco district officials told the board there still are a lot of questions about the charter school law, including how it would affect district finances and whether the state will try to have it ruled as unconstitutional.

w Senior Ignacio Bayardo, the board's student representative from Pasco High School, has been accepted to Harvard University for the coming fall semester.

Bayardo said the Ivy League university also has informed him he is eligible for a substantial scholarship. He'll be visiting the university's campus in Cambridge, Mass., in the coming weeks.

According to Harvard's student newspaper, The Crimson, the university accepted less than 6 percent of more than 35,000 applicants for the coming academic year, a record low.

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