Community Education

Peninsula schools seek parents’ input on update of reading and writing curriculum

Posted on April 16th, 2024 By:

Peninsula School District is updating its English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum across all grade levels, and encouraging parents to complete a survey by April 22.

One of the district’s primary goals is to have all students meeting state standards in reading and writing by the end of third grade. The most recent data posted on the state’s education website show nearly 40 percent (37.2 %) of third graders performing below grade-level expectations. In K-12 districtwide, only 65.3% met the ELA standard.

ELA survey

The update of materials used to teach reading and writing stems from findings of PSD’s Literacy Task Force, which in June recommended the district adhere to an evidence-based framework to teach essential literacy skills, including phonics.

The district’s goal is to select a curriculum aligned with the Washington State English Language Arts standards, which are based on a body of research that has come to be called the “science of reading.”

The district’s efforts are part of a nationwide movement away from “balanced literacy,” a methodology widely used for decades that downplayed phonics. Through its research, the task force found that literacy instruction should be “systemic and explicit,” according to its presentation to the school board in June.

The Literacy Task Force also recommended that all elementary teachers and administrators be trained in the science of reading. That initiative is already underway.

The curriculum update, which will take place between now and fall of 2025, is being rolled out with varying timelines for different grade levels. District administrators, teachers and specialists will screen potential materials, measuring each curriculum against the district, state and national educational standards and goals. Parents’ input from the survey will be used as part of the evaluation process.

“Your active involvement in this process is crucial to ensure appropriate and effective reading programs meeting the needs of all students are adopted,” said Kelly Perrow of the Gig Harbor Peninsula Dyslexia Parent Group, which has pressured the district to update its ELA curriculum.

Some changes coming soon

The district will pilot recommended materials in selected classrooms. An ELA Adoption Committee will evaluate the results and forward final recommendations to the district’s Instructional Materials Committee before formal adoption by the school board.

For elementary and middle schools, the district’s goal is to introduce the newly adopted curriculum in all classrooms in September 2025.

At the high school level, the district began piloting two curricula recommended by high school-level ELA Adoption Committee members in the second semester of this school year. Based on the current timeline, the district will roll out new high school ELA curriculum in fall of the 2024-25 school year.