Columbia School Board to Vote on New Curriculum Materials Monday Night
COLUMBIA- The Columbia school board votes Monday night on new curriculum materials, but not everyone's on board. The language arts curriculum hasn't been unified throughout the district since 1992. A special committee spent the past year evaluating and revising the current elementary language arts curriculum for kindergarten through third grade.
The board approved the revisions this summer. Then, committee members chose the "Good Habits, Great Readers" program from Pearson Education based on how well its lessons aligned with the revised curriculum. Now, some board members say research shows the materials have a negative impact on minority students. But, the district curriculum director said this is inaccurate. She said the research shows all students improved, however some improved more than others.
"The difference was the Caucasian students and those students who were labeled as other, meaning they were either Asian or multi-racial, had higher gains than African-American students or Hispanic students," Janet Tilley said.
Katie Hanney is a kindergarten and first grade teacher in a mixed-age classroom at Ridgeway Elementary. She was on the committee that tested the possible curriculum materials. She said she hopes the "Good Habits, Great Readers" program is voted on because she'd like to use it in her classroom.
"We need to find something that's going to make these children feel successful, and the more they feel successful, the more they're going to want to learn," Hanney said.
Hanney also addressed the concerns that the material has a negative impact on minority students.
"We would never choose something that had a negative effect," Hanney said. "I believe that we have the professional integrity to know better than that."
Hanney said real success will only come from working one-on-one with students.
"Kids come in every grade level with varying abilities and we meet those kids right where they are with those abilities so we can move them forward."
"It's not materials that are going to be able to close the achievement gap," Tilley said. "It's teaching and it's practice and that responsibility belongs to all of us."
KOMU reached out to the board members who oppose the new materials for comment, but they refused on-camera interviews until after the vote takes place tonight. If the vote doesn't pass, Hanney says the committee will have to start the year-long process of selecting new materials over again.