The Washington State Learning Standards provide essential academic learning targets for subjects taught in Richland Schools. The Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Department provides oversight of the district’s curriculum renewal process and ensures new materials align with state standards.
Impact To Sex & Health Education From SB 5395
The Washington Legislature recently approved Senate Bill (SB) 5395, which relates to standards for sex and health education in public schools. This legislation is expected to have little or no effect on how those subjects are currently taught in the Richland School District.
Here is how the new law will and will not affect our schools:
- Public schools must teach “affirmative consent” to older students: This new requirement is intended to help students recognize inappropriate behavior and their right to reject it. The law does not provide lesson plans or other details for this new requirement, meaning it will be up to individual school districts to determine how it is taught.
What’s not changing?
- The district will still have local control and flexibility to determine what best meets the needs of students and families.
- The district will still have the authority to choose its own curricula, materials, and speakers. While the state provides a list of comprehensive sexual health education curricula, the district is not required to adopt any of them.
- Students will continue to be taught, beginning in middle school, that abstinence is the most effective method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
- The district will continue to have the authority to determine what information is age appropriate.
- Parents will still have the right to review curricula and opt their children out of all or any portion. Districts will still be required to grant a parent request to excuse their child from a sex education curriculum.
- Curricula must encourage healthy relationships based on mutual respect and free from violence, coercion, and intimidation.
- The district will still use curricula aligned with past guidelines for sexual health information and disease prevention and the state’s health and physical education K – 12 learning standards. Districts are obligated by law only to teach HIV prevention (beginning in grade 5), CPR, and the use of external defibrillators.
- The district will still teach information that is medically and scientifically accurate, and inclusive for all students regardless of protected class status.
- The district will continue to teach this information once between grades K – 3, once between grades 4 – 5, twice between grades 6 – 8, and twice between grades 9 – 12.
In January of 2021, Richland School District will begin the process of reviewing standards for K-12 Health and Physical Education, including sex education, for implementation in the 2022 – 2023 school year. Part of this process will include the review and recommendation of instructional materials. Teachers and community members will have thorough opportunities to participate in and give input into the curriculum and the instructional materials during the review and adoption at that time.
Curriculum Adoption Efforts
K-12 Math Adoption
This curriculum adoption is aimed at determining a grade-level appropriate K-12 mathematics core curriculum that aligns with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
The committee’s work includes reviewing current district math data, reading research around best practice in mathematical instruction, reviewing the state math standards, evaluating current math curriculum, and identifying and field testing the top two choices.
Our district believes it is vitally important to teach students digital citizenships, or the skills and the knowledge necessary to use technology and digital resources safely and efficiently. This includes the norms of appropriate, responsible, and healthy behavior related to current technology use, including digital and media literacy, ethics, etiquette, and security. Digital citizenship includes the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, develop, produce, and interpret media, as well as Internet safety and cyberbullying prevention and response.
The Richland School District is always looking for ways to make its schools even better. With that goal in mind, the district pursued an audit of its curriculum program during the winter of 2018. This audit was conducted by an independent, third-party professional organization known for its expertise and ability to show school districts how they can use their approach to curriculum to do more to serve students.
The audit made recommendations to help the Richland School Board and district officials craft stronger policies and thorough approaches to curriculum as well as provide better curricular support to teachers. All are aimed at making sure we give every student access to high quality instruction and support.
The Board and district officials this fall will plan the multi-year process to implement those recommendations necessary to ensure our schools are truly “Educating Every Student for Success.” This winter we will begin working school staff members to put those plans in place and move our schools and students forward.