High school students get new chemistry curriculum

July 27, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School District high schoolers will come back to their science laboratories this fall with a new chemistry book.

Issaquah School Board members unanimously voted to adopt the textbook “Chemistry 2008,” by Prentice Hall, at their July 14 meeting.

The new curriculum cost about $120,000 and was paid for with money donated to the district by the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

The curriculum replaces one the district has used for more than 14 years. While the science of chemistry hasn’t changed in that time, the best methods for teaching it has, district spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.

The new books are more hands-on, she said, with more inquiry, deep-thinking problems and new laboratory experiments for students to do.

Prior to board members’ vote, a teacher-review committee vetted the curriculum, against nine others, for its connection to district, state and national learning goals. Teachers also tested the materials in their classrooms during laboratory experiments in high school chemistry courses.

The Prentice Hall book scored best in seven learning evaluation categories among teachers and students, according to a presentation created by the committee about the books.

The adoption of the new chemistry curriculum went markedly smoother than the adoption of the new high school math curriculum this spring.

That adoption took nearly two years to complete because of controversy surrounding the selected text, Key Curriculum Press’ “Discovering Mathematics” algebra and geometry books, which uses a combination of investigation and traditional practice drills to teach math.

A number of outspoken parents, residents and students formed Save Math In Issaquah, to rally against it in favor of selecting another text, “Holt Mathematics,” citing it taught math in a more traditional way.

School board members voted 4-1 to adopt “Discovering Mathematics” texts March 24.

While the Save Math In Issaquah officials threatened litigation against the district, the April 21 deadline to file a suit wasn’t met. To date, no other lawsuits have been filed.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

What do school board members do during the summer?

Like the Issaquah School District’s administrative employees and students, summer is a time to break from the business of running the district for school board members.

Instead of having regular meetings in July, the board typically only meets once to approve items on the consent agenda.

Items on the agenda include curricula adoptions that have been discussed previously, resignations or retirements of employees, donations or gifts to the district, and construction change orders. By approving the consent agenda, board members ensure important business moves forward.

Board members also spend summer months attending conferences, keeping track of political issues, meet for a retreat and partake in a book study with Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.

The board resumes normal meetings at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and 23 in the district administrative offices, 565 N.W. Holly St.

Learn more about the school board at the district website.

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