A more experiential, hands-on approach to education will be one of the items discussed at the upcoming Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board meeting taking place in Malibu on Thursday, with staff reporting their findings and recommendations for Inquiry-Based Learning.

Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) is essentially an occupational education, getting students to “engage with the work that matters to them, their teachers, and the world outside them.” Fieldwork, community service, internships, and consultation with experts will craft the core of inquiry-based learning.

Examples of IBL in action include Goleta’s Dos Pueblos High and the school’s Engineering Academy. In this program, Dos Pueblos High students still participate in general school classes while also participating in Engineering Academy, a curriculum at the high school that provides students within their first three years a “standard laboratory science physics course a standard visual and performing arts sculpture course, and an engineering elective course.” The fourth year for students includes a class structured to act as “a robust internship experience in an engineering company,” giving students college and career-ready experience.

At a previous board meeting late last year, staff presented the Board initial concepts and recommendations for inquiry-based learning. The school board asked staff to come back to the Board once staff visited campuses succeeding with IBL, gathered more information, detailed resources, and gauged interest with teachers ready to incorporate IBL pathways.

 Other items in Thursday’s dais include the reduction or elimination of child development program permit positions, revising independent study, and a presentation of Student Achievement Lead Data.

Student Achievement Lead Data is data tracked throughout the school year to gauge success with students within the district. The data provides transparency, creating “a culture of accountability, focus, and coherence, with clear and intentional expectations of learning among all stakeholders.”

According to the report, the district has improved in many areas, including decreasing D and F letter grades across all groups in mathematics, as well as decreasing chronic absence rates for all races/ethnicities. However, in areas of need, English Learners were considered at “high risk” within reading as well as receiving a D or F in math.

Consideration for the district’s next steps in attacking the noted deficiencies includes emphasizing “culturally relevant content and instruction” as well as “ensuring access to core curriculum for English Learners and Special Education students.”


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