The process: RBUSD seeks new curriculum for English/Language Arts

Dr. Susan Wildes. Photo courtesy of RBUSD.

by Garth Meyer

New curriculum for the Redondo Beach School District is coming for English and Language Arts (ELA)  in grades K-5. 

The process began Sept. 30 with a day-long workshop for a 30-member group assigned to make a recommendation to the school board next spring. 

Dr. Susan Wildes, committee leader, spoke to the school board last Tuesday. 

“ELA is our greatest area of need,” said the RBUSD assistant superintendent of educational services.

The “non-biased stakeholder group,” as described by Wildes, is made up of representatives from the teacher’s union, school board, district administration and parent-teacher association.

The new curriculum is to be designed to meet state benchmarks — for elementary school and beyond.

“College and career can’t be the work of our high school. It’s the work of K-8,” said Wildes. “If this is what reading success looks like in college, that is what it looks like in fifth grade, fourth grade and down. Curriculum is the vehicle to get the kids to make the standards.”

Updating materials includes choosing textbooks as well as novels. 

First, the committee will review existing research, state standards and student data. 

“We are looking to make sure everyone is very knowledgeable of the best practices of (teaching) literacy,” Wildes said.  “What makes for high-quality literacy instruction? … We always have to be rooted in the research.”

Estimated time of completion for the RBUSD project is February or March of 2022. A public hearing is to be held in the late stages, after which the committee makes their recommendation to the school board. 

“It’s a very intense and laborious process, and we want it to be. It’s necessarily slow,” said Dr. Steven Keller, RUSB superintendent. 

COMMUNICATIONS

This is the first curriculum update that Wildes has led. She joined district staff in 2019 after serving eight years as principal of Alta Vista School. 

What is the toughest part of this process?

“Making sure all stakeholder groups are clearly communicated with,” Wildes said.  

The Sept. 30 kickoff workshop included each committee member writing and practicing an “elevator speech” about what they are doing — a 60-second explanation to someone who asks about the curriculum project on the sideline of an athletic field or in the aisles of Target.

At its next meeting, Oct. 21, the agenda includes seeking advice from the group’s parents’ representatives on the best way to communicate with all parents of the district.  

“This is very, very new,” Wildes said last week, of the state of the process. 

Hard copies of the draft curriculum will be available at schools and online. 

Along the way, information will be updated to the district website — click on “Departments,” then “Educational Services,” then “2021-22 Elementary English/Language Arts Adoption Committee.” 

“Our goal is to be very, very transparent,” Wildes said. 

 

 

COMING UP

The next RBUSD curriculum update will be for History and Social Sciences, to commence sometime in the next three to four years. The previous update was done in 2019 for K-8 science. 

The cost of the science curriculum update was more than $1 million, Wilde said, which is why these happen at irregular intervals, depending on the ebb and flow of district budgets.

“There’s never a predictable price,” said Supt. Keller, noting that materials involved in teaching science are particularly expensive. 

The average curriculum is taught in a district for eight years. ER

 

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