District 11 to gear middle school technology education curriculum toward business needs

The Anoka-Hennepin School District will alter its seventh-grade technology education curriculum to better suit the needs of local businesses.

To better prepare students for local careers in technology, curriculum will be adjusted to incorporate more of an emphasis on manufacturing and applied engineering, as well as “soft skills,” according to Ellen Delaney, director of secondary curriculum, assessment and instruction in the district.

Many businesses have expressed a desire for students to be trained more specifically for manufacturing and applied engineering occupations, while others are more concerned with soft skills, like collaboration, communication and perseverance, Delaney said. Ideal curriculum will find a balance.

In addition to helping students become career-ready, a change in curriculum would cut costs.

The current software seventh-grade students use costs $67,000 annually. There are programs available that cost significantly less or are free, Delaney said. So, the district’s plan is to build its own modules from one of these less costly options.

In a presentation to the school board Jan. 27, Delaney estimated the cost would be close to $35,000 annually – within budget.

The board gave its approval for work to continue on new curriculum.

Next year, teachers at Anoka Middle School for the Arts and Oak View Middle School in Andover will pilot the new curriculum.

“By doing it in only two sites, it allows us to field test it in relatively different environments, [while] also making it financially feasible to do,” Delaney said to the board.

The hope is that by 2016 all district middle schools will use the new curriculum.

“We’re excited to see how this develops going forward,” Board Chairman Tom Heidemann said.

A clearer picture of the curriculum should be available by the end of June.

Olivia Koester is at
[email protected]