The Rossford school board last week adopted a new reading curriculum for the district's kindergarten through fifth grade students that will be implemented in the 2014-15 year.
The school system is committed to using Success for All for at least three years, at a cost of $137,534 the first year, $46,026 the second year, and $37,080 in year three. Superintendent Dan Creps said after the board meeting that he expected the program to be used beyond that initial period because a good evaluation of its effectiveness probably would take longer.
"We're looking at a minimum of three to five years to get a valid assessment," he said. "We'll have to establish benchmarks and other criteria in the program to see how our students are doing with it."
The vote to adopt the curriculum was 4-1, with board member Jackie Brown dissenting because she believed the program was overpriced, and because she had doubts about its effectiveness.
The board has been considering Success for All since last year. It heard a presentation from a representative of Success for All, and authorized a committee of teachers and administrators to research the curriculum and make a field trip to see it in use.
The committee's positive report carried weight with the board and Mr. Creps, who recommended that Success for All be adopted. The program's methodology includes organizing students into teams under the watchful eye of teachers, along with assessments and rewards for achieving objectives. It also has an opportunity for one-on-one instruction if needed.
Ms. Brown, however, expressed doubt that the board had an accurate picture of the program's efficacy and said the district was spending too much.
"At this time, if we add up all the dollars we are going to be spending, it's not cost effective," she said.
She said that other districts were dropping Success for All and certain studies showed it did not work as billed.
Mr. Creps stood by his recommendation and the legwork done by the committee, which he said "looked into this extensively and did a thorough job." The superintendent said the results of other studies contradicted the research mentioned by Ms. Brown, and that he was "very confident" recommending Success for All for board approval.
Other board members said they had heard good and bad things about Success for All.
"In some school districts it worked and in others it obviously didn't," Board President Ken Sutter said.
He added that he believed adopting a new, common curriculum was appropriate given that the district would be consolidating its elementary education with the closing of Indian Hills Elementary School at the end of the current academic year. The curriculum was "a scripted program," but should allow teachers some leeway, he said.
After the meeting, Mr. Creps said learning to read well at an early age was critical to future success.
"You need a solid program, and at this point we're confident that Success for All is that program," he said.