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Menomonee Falls tackles best way to educate students

School officials study workforce to build curriculum

Jan. 14, 2014

Menomonee Falls — Menomonee Falls school officials have been gathering information and input on how to best educate their students and prepare them for college and careers. In doing so, common themes have emerged, according to a report presented to the School Board on Monday.

A plethora of data related to college and career readiness has been compiled by district administration that takes into account things such as the workforce, how students can be successful, job trends and what skills should be cultivated during kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

The jobs available don't necessarily require a four-year degree, Director of Curriculum and Learning Gary Kiltz said.

"The idea of pushing students to that four-year degree may prepare them poorly for the jobs that will out there, so (we're) looking at that balance," he said.

The studies revealed that academics aren't the only thing students need to be successful. Schools should also be looking at developing soft skills like communication, listening, decision-making, and the ability to effectively work in a team. These skills can be achieved through integrated projects that require collaboration," Kiltz said.

Kiltz said many employers say graduating students lack skills in math and basic reading and more of a focus should be placed on technical reading as opposed to fiction. The district plans to implement additional technical reading materials moving forward.

In elementary school, 50 percent of reading should be fiction, 50 percent technical, Kiltz said. In middle school, it should be a 60/40 split with more focus on technical text. In high school there should be a 70/30 split, with technical reading and writing being a larger focus. Kiltz said the reading is currently split with 60 percent technical reading and 40 percent fiction in high school.

School Board member Dave Noshay said the reason administrators are spending so much time researching these subject areas is so the board can make informed decisions about curriculum and career-readiness.

"We're just trying to get a really, well-rounded perspective on what this community values and what will best educate our kids in whatever avenue they decide to take," Noshay said.

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