Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu is moving forward with plans to bolster one key department and revamp another in hopes of improving the district’s poor academic standing.
Neu said the district’s curriculum department is too small to be effective and lacks leadership in several core subject areas.
“There is very little curriculum support here,” he said. “I knew that we were not heavily staffed, but I did not know the degree to which we were understaffed.”
Neu said the district is in the process of building a curriculum department to rival that of his former school district in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way.
That district is about half the size of the Oklahoma City district but had two to three times the staff dedicated to course development, according to Neu.
Aurora Lora, the Harvard-educated administrator Neu hired to develop, implement and supervise district curriculum, said she was surprised at how poorly staffed the department was.
“I have never seen a district with such a small curriculum department,” she said. “I definitely think it (has) contributed to the lack of support for teachers and principals in terms of curriculum help.”
Lora previously worked for school districts in Seattle and Portland that were comparable in size to Oklahoma City.
“They had much larger curriculum departments and had all the core areas covered,” she said
To counter the deficiency, Lora said the district is seeking to hire a secondary literacy coordinator, elementary and secondary math coordinators, elementary and secondary science coordinators and a K-12 social studies coordinator.
Lora, the district’s associate superintendent of student achievement and accountability, also wants to add an advanced academics coordinator to oversee programs for gifted and talented students that include advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs.
“We’re also interested in adding someone for world languages,” she said.
Also in the works are new pacing guides for teachers that are aligned to state standards for every grade level, Lora said.
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