The following is an e-mail that was sent to administrators of school districts that have either adopted CHART or are in the process of doing so. The message gives you a sense of where MDE’s curriculum review process current stands, along with the developments that have taken place over the past week.
I’m writing to give you an update regarding the ongoing sex ed curriculum review process being conducted by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools (OHS). Last week, OHS announced the second round of approved curricula, the results of which we found to be disappointing.
For the second time, none of the CHART-recommended curricula were approved, in spite of the adaptations made to each of them in order to comply with the guidelines of HB999. Two of the curricula, Draw the Line/Respect the Line (middle school) and Reducing the Risk (high school) made the minimum score, but were still not approved because there were concerns about whether the condom demonstrations would actually be removed from their programs. MDE wants to see the final written version of the modified curricula before approval.
While the CHART-recommended choices weren’t approved, MDE did approve two curricula for abstinence-plus that are not evidence-based. In fact, the two curricula approved for “abstinence-plus”, WAIT Training and Choosing the Best, were the same two that were approved for “abstinence-only”. This was a very disappointing outcome of a process designed to approve high-quality programs. Since neither WAIT Training nor Choosing the Best are included on the list of evidence-based curricula recommended for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), these curricula cannot be included as no-cost options for districts that adopt the CHART policy.
This past Friday, my Executive Director met with Dr. Lynn House, the Deputy State Superintendent of Education. Dr. House supervises the Office of Healthy Schools, and she was aware of the challenges presented by this recent review decision.
During the meeting, the following decisions were made:
- Draw the Line (MS) and Reducing the Risk (HS) would be allowed to immediately re-submit a copy of their full curricula with the necessary modifications. Having already earned the minimum approval score, this should be enough to get these curricula approved.
- Vendors of the CHART recommended curricula not approved this round will receive more-detailed information explaining why they weren’t chosen. This will help vendors make the right adaptations to get approved.
- Other curricula will be submitted on our behalf before the March 30th deadline.
- It’s Your Game: Keep it Real – Middle school curriculum
- Becoming a Responsible Teen (BART) – High School Curriculum
- Promoting Healthy Among Teens (PHAT) – Middle and High School curriculum
As a result of these decisions, we all must suffer a further delay in curriculum selection, teacher training, and other implementation tasks your district must complete before August. We’re sincerely sorry that the process will be delayed even longer. While we wish evidence-based curricula would have been approved this past fall, we believe the decisions made in the past few days will help ensure that your district will have high-quality options in the coming weeks. I will continue to update you as the process continues. In the meantime, thank you for your patience and your understanding.
Deputy Director, Mississippi First