Battle Ground Public Schools is taking another stab at implementing state-required comprehensive sexual health education in the district, as it got the OK to explore new curriculum at both the middle and high school levels from its board of directors
During its Nov. 22 meeting, the BGPS board gave general consensus that will allow staff to continue with a process to determine the new sexual education curriculum. The district is revisiting both its middle school curriculum, which has been under consideration this year, and existing high school curriculum over the next semester, with implementation planned for fall of 2022.
In the spring, the district assembled an adoption committee for middle school sexual health with teachers, administrators, parents and community members who reviewed curriculum specifically for middle school grades. The committee initially recommended the HealthSmart curriculum, but the district became aware of another curriculum, Check the Facts, which was suggested by other community members, and took the time to look at the other program.
Check the Facts ended up scoring the least on metrics the committee used to determine an adequate curriculum.
During an October board meeting, Allison Tuchardt and David Cresap, the district’s co-directors of curriculum, presented the board with other issues identified by the planned middle school adoption. Any curriculum in front of the board for middle schoolers was not “coherent” with lessons at the high school level, and the high school-level curriculum didn’t fit current legal requirements for parental review, either.
For those reasons and a lack of “scope and sequence” to help the community members understand what would be taught at each grade level in middle school, the curriculum directors presented the new process to the board.
According to a timeline from staff, a new committee will be selected in December, and a request for proposals by the district would go out to different publishers. The committee will have 16 members, according to a staff proposal, including six parents or community members.
As laid out in the timeline, the committee will review the proposed curriculum before the board makes a final decision on whether to adopt what was recommended in May.
For the committee, Cresap said it was staff’s goal to select community members who could advocate for a position but also move to a place of “common ground” among other members.
“In reality there’s probably not going to be a unanimous sort of view on this topic,” Cresap said.
Tuchardt said during the upcoming process, staff members want to allow community members to review all of the curricula under consideration, if the publishers allow it. Cresap said the committee will likely consider three programs, including HealthSmart, in recognition of the previous committee’s work.
Staff presented a draft scope and sequence, which showed sexual education will be taught between four to six days per grade level in fifth through eighth grades. High school curriculum would include about three weeks of instruction. The draft scope will be refined following a selection from the committee on a curriculum.
The draft scope laid out specifically what would be taught each day for middle school grades. Board Member Mary Snitily appreciated the process that put the scope and sequence of the curriculum at the forefront of the discussion even prior to choosing a final program.
Having that scope and sequence, based on what the state requires, “might bring a little bit more clarity” to the process, Snitily said. She also supported the professional expertise of the curriculum directors, as well as greater community input on the process.
BGPS Superintendent Denny Waters said he appreciates the composition the committee will have. Waters said he’s heard criticism about past efforts having bias, especially among parent and community member representatives.
“When we choose representatives to be part of anything that we do, there’s no agenda in mind. We’re looking for true community representation,” Waters said. “I just truly want people on this committee who … want to help us move forward, because that’s really what we need to do. We have to move forward on this.”