Literacy Curriculum Task Force Narrowing Options

March 5, 2024

The ad hoc committee reviewing options for a new elementary grades literacy curriculum was scheduled last Thursday to narrow the choices down from six to three.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tricia Clifford said by email that she will withhold comment until she can “present the outcome at my next update to the School Committee,” scheduled for March 12.

Clifford reported to the School Committee last Tuesday that intense reviews of the three program finalists will continue until the second week of May.

The curriculum change for students in Davis and Lane Schools was approved by the School Committee after parents and teachers expressed widespread dissatisfaction with the current program. 

The proposed fiscal 2025 education budget includes start-up and annual expense estimates of more than $450,000. Superintendent of Schools Cliff Chuang has said actual costs won’t be known until the final choice.

Last week Clifford said the District Literacy Leadership Committee, composed of 30 administrators, teachers, and parents, broke into six subgroups, each reviewing one literacy program.

The three selected programs will be “reviewed intensely, using a very comprehensive rubric that Hill created,” Clifford told the School Committee. She was referring to Hill for Literacy, which specializes in identifying optimal literacy plans and is advising the panel. The committee will interview publishers and users from other school districts, she said. 

Meanwhile, “There are times when I meet with groups of teachers and different folks to hear concerns and make sure they can connect with the literacy leadership team,” Clifford reported.

Asked by School Committee member Brad Morrison when there will be an implementation plan, Clifford said the details will be developed in discussions with the publisher of the selected program, as well as input from other school districts.

In answer to a question from committee member Sheila Mehta-Green, Clifford said she is keeping Kelsey McCarthy, English language program administrator at John Glenn Middle School, in the loop for familiarizing sixth-grade teachers with the new curriculum. 

“This has been a tremendous amount of work that people are taking very seriously,” Clifford told the School Committee. “We have had some really good conversations about what is important to us, what we want to have in the program, something teachers will have a voice in implementing, and what is best for students.”

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