We are aware of concerns regarding the literacy curriculum being taught in Grades 3-6.
First, to clarify some of the concerns being expressed, the district has implemented Wit & Wisdom in Grades 3-6 only at this time. In the 2022-2023 school year, K-2 will then implement Wit & Wisdom. Grades 7 & 8 have not implemented the curriculum, but were given books from Wit & Wisdom to review. Wit & Wisdom in Grades 7 & 8 is not currently the expectation.
Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, any public school district that purchases a curriculum program shall choose a curriculum program from the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE) approved list of curriculum programs. The DESE list of reviewed and approved curriculum programs, along with links to additional information on each program and grade specific information, can be found here. Based on student reading levels, we knew we had a core instruction issue that needed to be addressed. Upon determining that adopting a new literacy curriculum program would be in the best interest of our students and teachers, we moved forward with the process of finding a curriculum program to best meet the needs of our students.
Throughout this process, we felt that teachers deserved not only a voice in selecting the materials, but to also be supported throughout the implementation. A literacy committee was formed consisting of K-6 teachers, building administrators, and district administrators. Three programs were selected from DESE’s approved list to review. Each program was brought into the schools for teachers to review and document any outstanding questions prior to voting on a curriculum. A rubric was used by each of the buildings to score each of the programs. This extensive process, committee members, and review of programs can be found in the presentation to the Board of Education. Please feel free to research these programs further.
As with anything, there is not a “perfect” curriculum that we can provide for our teachers and students. However, the majority of the K-6 teachers and administrators felt Wit & Wisdom was the best option moving forward. Results from the survey may be viewed on Slide 10 of the presentation linked above. While we do believe that Wit & Wisdom is at this time the best option to provide a comprehensive literacy curriculum that addresses all components of literacy instruction, we understand there are some concerns that we will have to work through together as we continue implementing Wit & Wisdom in Grades 3-6 and will have to do the same in Grades K-2 next year. It is always our goal to provide relevant and appropriate instruction for OUR students. We are currently working with teachers and administrators in the grade levels who are teaching Wit & Wisdom to perform an audit of the curriculum and texts in Wit & Wisdom to determine what should be removed and/or replaced.
Furthermore, we continue to encourage parents and stakeholders to voice any concerns over their child’s education to the district. You may submit any Wit & Wisdom related questions or concerns here, and a district representative will reach out to you to help find a solution. Board Policies 5.5, 5.6, and 5.7 explain the district’s protocols in the selection and challenge of instructional and/or library media materials. If you feel that a specific text or instructional material being provided to your student is inappropriate and should be removed, please refer to Policy 5.6.
We are so proud of the work our teachers have done to implement the curriculum, engage our students, and improve literacy outcomes. We can already see tremendous improvement in students' reading and writing skills. At the same time, we recognize that one of our most important responsibilities as educators is to ensure our students are protected against unnecessary content and/or sensitive information. We feel that by working with our teachers and administrators to perform an ongoing audit and adjust or replace sensitive or unnecessary information, we will be able to provide a strong and appropriate curriculum for our students that will help them be successful readers, writers, and citizens in the future.