The Viking Vision - A Message from the Superintendent
New ELA Curriculum Holds High Promise for Improved Student Literacy
Posted by Marcus C. Robinson on 8/6/2020
Earlier this year the Normandy Joint Executive Governing Board entered an agreement with Attuned Education Partners to develop a five-year strategic plan to build upon the progress the Collaborative made when receiving its provisional accreditation in 2018. Leadership saw the need to become more streamlined and strategic in its approach to improve the academic achievement of students, and the district overall.
As a result of surveys and meetings with students, parents, staff, and members of the community, Attuned developed a plan that focuses on several critical moves that will help the Collaborative achieve ambitious, yet attainable, goals. Strategic Planning Goal #2 is College-Ready Teaching & Learning. To support this goal, Normandy is launching a new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum, EL Education. (The full strategic plan is posted on the Normandy website: www.normandysc.org.)
I’ve worked with our Curriculum & Instruction team, principals and administrators to examine where we can make changes for the most significant impact when it comes to improving student academic outcomes. Based on our academic data, our students have struggled with one of the most fundamental skill sets – literacy. Literacy is the base for which all other subject matter mastery is built. When students have deficits in literacy (reading, comprehension, spelling), they will have difficulty mastering other subjects such as social studies, science, and mathematics.
This year we are introducing a new curriculum for our students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The EL Curriculum is a comprehensive K-8 solution created by teachers for teachers. At grades K-2, the curriculum centers on foundational skills and phonics. The curriculum also incorporates character education, social-emotional learning and a social justice perspective. EL is a top-rated program that provides extensive online resources and support.
EL is the result of a partnership between the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound. The three dimensions EL focuses on for student achievement is:
Mastery of Knowledge and Skills
Habits of Character
High Quality Work
Later this month, teachers and principals will undergo rigorous professional development to learn about this new curriculum and how it will improve the teaching and learning for English Language Arts. The PD session will span three weeks targeting the ELA and general education teachers serving grades K-8.
Other districts have seen significant success when implementing EL in their schools. All students, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, have made large gains. Conway Elementary School in Escondido, Calif., began a Literacy Curriculum Partnership with EL Education in 2014-2015. Just two years later, Conway students posted a 27-point gain in ELA results. Simultaneously, this school also reported the lowest suspension rate in the district. We look to have similar outcomes with our students and teachers.
In the coming weeks, we will meet with principals, teachers, families and community members to share more information on this new and rigorous offering we believe will put our students on the right path to academic success.