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Saturday, September 26, 2015

The new ELA curriculum off to a slow start. (rough draft)

When the district decided to go away from books and go with hand outs employing an outfit named Engage NY I had my reservations. Engages reputation was less than sterling and I thought the districts plan to provide materials to all of its ELA elementary classrooms was ambitious to say the least especially considering the districts track record.

Not wanting to be that guy who hates puppies just because the district likes them I decided to wait a few weeks before I wrote about it. Such an ambitious plan would undoubtedly have bugs and need some time to work out, especially here in Duval where we can never seem to hit the ground running.

So last week amonth into the school year I started asking elementary school teachers what they thought and most answers started with well let me tell you, and then they would go into talking about how sometimes the lessons were to complex or not complex enough, while other lessons were inappropriate and how the entire curriculum didn't leave a lot of room for flexibility, reteaching and exploring outside materials. 

They did say however that the district had been fairly good with getting teachers materials, though often there weren't enough to send home and two separate fourth grade teachers complained they were missing materials, so maybe there is a fourth grade glitch but overall at least that part was working much better than I expected. 

I felt the initial consensus was somewhere between not that great and ugh, we're working through it.

Then in the last few days I received the following two notes.  

I teach third ela and am on the verge of quitting. The new curriculum is horrible. I have several teachers willing to talk to the media so long as they can be anonymous. The public needs to know that our new curriculum is HURTING our students. They aren't learning anything. Any idea why this isn't on the front page of the paper?

We are all at a loss! The new Duval Reads curriculum is horrific, and now we are told that the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments are not aligned to the FSA. In 4th grade we have four Social Studies Lessons and they are at the end of the 9-weeks. We have Social Studies standards to teach, and I can't quite figure out why the district feels they can overlook that fact. In addition, there is a Florida Statute that states our elementary children are to have 30 minutes of continual exercise per day. Recess is mandated by the state.

I think teachers are willing to try new things, even radical new things but thier ability to teach what they know to be contrary to their students needs is limited. I suspect that many teachers willingness to give the new curriculum a chance is running out. 

I have a feeling as the year goes on I will be getting a lot of notes like above and just for the record, I love puppies.


  1. We are committing academic malpractice as termed by one of my colleagues. But must or suffer the district's consequences....very sad.

  2. The Duval Reads curriculum is horrific. It is terrible and treats veteran teachers like they are brand new to teaching. It is insulting to all teachers. Especially those who have proven to have an excellent record of producing gains and FCAT scores that prove their previous students are proficient or higher. Also, why do we need such controversial books in 3rd grade? This curriculum provides very surface level thinking and work. However, the lessons are poorly written and is not user friendly. I tried my best to implement with fidelity. Now, I'm doing what is best because for my students because I am an educator and I refuse to provide a substandard education.

  3. I thought that it was just in urban schools that struggled with the curriculum. But I learned that this is occurring in suburban schools as well. Schools that are traditionally A schools. The district does not care as they send there henchmen to ensure that it is being taught without any questions. Where is the union or the school board? This district is in shambles and no says anything. We need help! Someone! Anyone! HELP!!!

  4. Where is the Teachers Union? I have heard that DTU's silence has been bought which is the reason why the almighty Terri Brady hasn't spoken up in over a year. If teachers are paying for the union to support them and they are not doing their job, all of them need to be voted out of office!

  5. The pacing of the new curriculum is horrific. I have spoken to veteran teachers who got in trouble simply for spending more than one day on a lesson because their students needed more time with the concept. Teachers are being punished because they are doing what's best for their students. They are being treated as anything but professionals. As a parent, I would be very upset knowing that this district is setting up my child to fail in the name of fidelity.

  6. The curriculum guides are impossible but who could do better? Given the impossible demands of the state, the curriculum writers had to cram it in to the published schedule. Fortunately for me, in my subject area at my school, I have a supportive principal who would rather I teach so the students understand even if that means I cannot keep to the pace of the curriculum guide. It is better, even on the BIG TEST, for students to understand much of the content than to have rushed through all of the content and understand none of it.

    1. Our students are going to continue to have huge gaps in reading and math. Why? Primarily because the district are going on hunts to see if teachers are on pace with lessons, instead of allowing teachers time to reteach or seek other resources to supplement such a horrible, developmentally inappropriate curriculum.

  7. Don't worry everyone, I just heard in my common planning meeting the message sent to principal's regarding where we should be with our lessons. It was stated that "if teachers would just really buy into this and really read and prep, we should have no problems with implementation." Ahhhhhh that's what it was. We needed to buy in. Now, I know. Forget all of my years of teaching experience!