A preliminary outline for a course in family life and sex education to begin next fall was presented to the Alexandria School Board last week at the board's first meeting of the new school year.
The outline strongly emphasizes the role of the family in the human life cycle, and includes topics ranging from fetal health to the sexual responsibilities of young adults. The course proposal also includes a section on birth control methods and their side effects.
The proposal, endorsed by Superintendent Robert W. Peebles, was prepared this summer by two teachers appointed by the school board, and developed with the board-appointed Family Life Education Advisory Committee.
Although the outline summarizes a one-year course to be called Family Life Education for 9th or 10th graders, it includes suggestions for course work from kindergarten to 12th grade. The basic course would be required of all students, except for those whose parents ask that their children be excluded.
The list of student reading materials in the current proposal includes selected chapters from the following books: "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives" by R. Bell, "Facts About Sex for Today's Youth" by Sol Gordon, "Family" by Rita Hansen and Murray Rockowitz, "Sex: Telling it Straight" by Eric W. Johnson and "Our Bodies Ourselves" by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective.
No action was taken on the preliminary proposal. The board is expected to discuss the course content at its meeting Sept. 23, in addition to designating in which grade the course will be taught and whether it will be a semester or full-year course.
There was some discussion at last week's meeting on how the class would fit in with the current credit requirements and whether it would be classified as a requirement or as a required elective.
In other business at last week's meeting, the board heard a report on student achievement scores for the last eight years.
James P. Akin, assistant to the superintendent for research, planning and evaluation, said he was "generally pleased" with the results of the 1981 scores on the Science Research Associates Ability/Achievement Profiles for grades one to six, noting that nearly all grades had scored above the national average.
Akin said scores for seventh and eighth graders had improved over last year, although they were slightly lower in the national percentiles than the lower grades. Parents were sent a report on the test scores last May.
Akin says test results are helpful to teachers in pinpointing individual student problem areas. "We are pleased because last year's scores really represent the culmination, in terms of grades one to six, of some long-range goals that we had to get most of our schools above the national average," Akin said.
A review of Alexandria's testing program will be part of a systemwide examination of curriculum and instruction for all grades, the school board's top goal for this year. At its annual goal-setting meeting last Saturday, board members set six priorities for the coming year. Among the top concerns of school board members were the need for improving guidance counseling at all grade levels and developing long-range plans for the school system.