As you know, the Common Core State Standards were adopted in August of 2010. NS curriculum teams have worked over the years to understand the standards and the impact of the standards on teaching and learning. As part of the next steps, we are going to begin a Reading Program adoption for English Language Arts.
When the CC ELA standards were first adopted, the curriculum companies were way behind in providing materials that were high quality and they were loosely aligned at best. As time has passed, curricular materials are now available that are tightly aligned to the standards and best practices in instruction.
Quality Instructional Materials are incredibly important. High-quality instructional materials are designed to help build a teacher’s content knowledge, provide guidance to inform lesson planning and offer structures to support collaboration with other teachers. Research shows that students gain months of learning when teachers use high-quality instructional materials. This year the Reading Program Adoption Committee evaluated materials and programs aligned to the current standards to replace Treasures that was adopted in the 2006-2007 school year.
The process followed to evaluate reading programs was:
Embedded within the program is the ReadyUp Intervention which was designed to support ReadyGEN students with Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 interventions. ReadyUp! Intervention offers flexibility through multiple entry and exit. During core ReadyGEN instruction, foundational skills are taught to the whole class through Foundational Skills Mini-Lessons. For students who are struggling with a skill, instruction is differentiated during Small Group Time using the more robust Foundational Skills lessons at the back of the Teacher’s Guide. For students who continue to have difficulty with specific skills, instruction can be further differentiated using ReadyUp! Intervention lessons.
It points to accommodate students’ differing intervention needs and rates of mastery. The way students learn to read and develop critical thinking skills depends on many different factors, including age, primary language, cultural heritage, and experiences (FirstSchool 2014). To address the needs of all students, a curriculum must be flexible. The skill sequence should be progressive but integrated, with each grade’s skills building on previous grade-level instruction. The sequence for each grade makes connections and prerequisites among skills clear, within and across grades, to make scaffolding and targeted intervention appropriately flexible and efficient. To facilitate skills mastery, research supports a gradual release of responsibility. Teachers model first, and then they guide practice. Eventually, students work in groups and then independently (Frey and Fisher 2011). This approach matches the common “I do it,” “We do it,” “You do it together,” and “You do it alone” model for lessons (Fisher and Frey 2014). Readyup intervention teachers use assessment to set goals for students, monitor progress toward those goals, give feedback on that progress, and adjust teaching as needed (Allal 2010). By observing how students respond to this ongoing formative assessment, teachers can adjust or focus activities in each lesson. Research shows that effective formative assessment strives to answer the questions Where am I going? Where am I now? and Where to next? (Frey and Fisher 2011). By answering these questions, students know exactly why they are being assessed, what skills they need to address to improve, and what skills they will need for future classroom work.
We are incredibly appreciative of the time, energy and effort of the Reading Program Evaluation Committee members who volunteered their time for this important initiative: Tracy Lafreniere, Kristin Murphy, Bernadette Hawkins, Heather Ingram, Cristina Albanese, Heather Santurri, Jenn Fraioli, Jen Daigneault, Rachel Salvatore, Corinne Ferri, Kelly Hubacz, Jane Foster, Anna Piasczyk, Deana Cook, Erin Spaziani, and Brittany Robichaud.
Clare Arnold, Assistant Superintendent