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Oswego School Board Approves New English Language Arts Curriculums

Apr 28, 2015 10:04AM ● Published by Steven Jack

Despite the objections of two of Oswego School District 308 board members who serve on the board’s Teaching and Learning Committee, the board Monday night approved by a vote of 4-3 the implementation of new English Language Arts curriculums to be used throughout the district.

With Board members Bill Walsh, Brent Lightfoot, Danielle Paul and Greg O’Neil voting yes, ReadyGen 2.0 and SpringBoard will replace current curriculums in the district’s elementary and junior and high schools respectively next year. The total cost of the new programs will be $3.6 million, and will not increase the district’s current budget.  

Board and Teaching and Learning Committee members Alison Swanson and Mike McDowell both expressed concerns over the SpringBoard program, asking that it be piloted at the high school level before it’s fully implemented.

Swanson said the committee had more questions than answers when it came to SpringBoard, and a significant number of staffers on the district’s 90-member ELA curriculum review committee did not support the recommended program. 

According to a Monday report on parent blog 308 Watchdog, staff concerns with SpringBoard include that it was never tested in any district school, it requires almost daily typing and the district does not have enough computers to support that and only one novel will be taught to students per year. 

“My concern is that this is being rushed a little bit without a pilot,” McDowell said. “A lot of money is on the line that is being spent for this.”

Swanson made a motion to delay the vote, but that failed by the same 4-3 margin. Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Judy Minor said delaying the vote or implementation of the new curriculum would set the district back an entire school year in making a change. 

Superintendent Matthew Wendt said he understood the concerns of those that don’t support SpringBoard, but pointed to the fact that just 48 percent of District 308 seniors graduate at a college readiness level for reading. 

“We’re not going to get 100 percent agreement when we’re upsetting the apple cart the way we’re upsetting it,” he said. “… There is no possibility that 100 percent of English teachers in this district will agree with the recommended curriculum. That won’t happen.”

Wendt also cautioned against undermining the year-long work of the curriculum review committee that recommended SpringBoard.

Board member Lightfoot agreed. 

“We have to trust the administrators and teachers on this committee that this is the best program,” he said. 

Matt Bauman, who like Swanson and McDowell voted no, asked how long it would take for the district to detect if SpringBoard was not effective. Wendt said the district would evaluate the program after three years, but that changes would be made along the way to parts of the curriculum if needed. 

“I’m confident in our staff that they will make adjustments as they’ve done in (the new) mathematics (curriculum),” he said. “I don’t know why this would be any different.” 

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