Leia Gluckman staff writer
The fourth floor textbook room is filled with books that have been described as “old” and “antiquated” by students and staff members, many of which are to be updated in the near future. The condition of many textbooks pose a variety of issues in and outside the classroom.
On the shelves there are multiple editions of the same book coming from different publishers which are to be used in the same classroom. Having several interpretations of books circulating throughout a classroom creates problems when students need to follow along in class.
In addition to this, some versions of these books are so “old” that “teachers [said] that they found a book with Angelina Jolie’s name in it,” textbook room manager Lesa Woods said. The frayed binding and missing pages also give way to the antiquity of the books which, in many cases, get in the way of being able to read all of the assigned material.
After working in Compton for 20 years, Woods moved to Beverly at the start of this school year and immediately began noticing discrepancies between the districts’ systems beyond the ages of the books.
“Working here is different because they use only a computer system and their system is very old,” Woods said. “Working at other schools, they use paper and computers and their system was up to date.”
Woods also notes that “it’s really kind of hard for the teachers if you run out of one edition and students have different editions.”
Dustin Seemann, the assistant superintendent of educational services, is currently working to address the problems with offering up to date resources and prioritize the adoption of the California Department of Education’s newly approved curriculum for science classes.
“Over the last year, Jesse Bond, one of our new librarians at the middle school, has been working with our Director of Technology to be able to not only put all of our [classroom] resources online, though Aeries, but all of our instructional materials as well,” Seemann said. “The benefit of being able to do that cataloging is that it allows us to then start to prioritize and catalog those instructional materials that now have become either outdated or antiquated and need to be replaced.”
To accomplish cataloguing and get the district on the same page, Seemann plans to have all department chairs across the district “prioritize their instructional material within their department” in preparation for his presentation to the Board of Education. This will push the Board to “start prioritizing our 2020-2021 budget financially to focus on replacing and replenishing some of the damage or antiquated material [in the district].”
Shifting to an online system for students to utilize when accessing textbooks provides new opportunities for both teachers and students in the classroom.
“Where [physical textbooks become] antiquated very quickly,” Seemann said, “the online components of the book stay updated by the manufacturer.”
The new system that Seemann is working to implement “is going to ensure that all students have access to the same materials, but also that they have access to it in a variety of ways.” The timeline to administer the changes is dependent on the State of California’s changes in curriculum – these changes occur on a rotation meaning that each year allows for a different subject’s standard curriculum to be assessed.
“We have ensured that there is an electronic component to it which helps adjust reading levels for students,” Seemann said. The ability to adjust the reading levels remotely helps teachers accommodate the individual needs of students to prevent them from falling behind. In addition, this “electronic component” also makes textbooks and other materials accessible at home so that students don’t have to carry them around.
“Now that we now have a better and clearer understanding of what is sitting on our shelves and what is being taught to the courses,” Seemann said, “we can start chipping away at being able to replace things and find really great educational resources, online options for students.”
“Gone are the days that we are only going to have the physical textbook available to students,” Seemann said. Seemann is committed to increasing student learning opportunities through the expansion of the textbook network.