Magazine article District Administration

Illinois District Selects New K5 ELA Curriculum: Champaign Community Unit School District #4 Chooses Reading Wonders after Rigorous Two-Year Research Effort

Magazine article District Administration

Illinois District Selects New K5 ELA Curriculum: Champaign Community Unit School District #4 Chooses Reading Wonders after Rigorous Two-Year Research Effort

Article excerpt

The Champaign (III.) Community Unit School District #4 serves more than 9,600 students at 18 school sites, and includes more than 1,400 staff members. Trevor Nadrozny has been the director of curriculum for the last three years and was an elementary school principal in the district for 11 years.

When Nadrozny first came to the position, of primary concern was the district's K5 English language arts curriculum. "We had struggled with reading, where we are dealing with a significant achievement gap," says Nadrozny. "We had accumulated a number of different reading programs and curriculum resources over the years," he says, which had become confusing and difficult for teachers to implement and use effectively. None of the existing curriculum resources provided adequate professional development. As a result, Nadrozny saw a clear need for implementing a new, unified K5 ELA curriculum in the district.

Nadrozny formed a K5 ELA task force in 2011-2012 to lead the effort of researching options and selecting a curriculum. Among the criteria identified by the task force were that the new curriculum be highly engaging and culturally responsive, be both easily integrated and easily differentiated, have adequate professional development support, and be aligned to the Common Core. It was also vital that the curriculum emphasize writing, as well as the five literacy components of phonemic awareness, phonics/word work, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

The task force, led by Nadrozny, identified four different curriculum options, which were piloted at nine different schools in two stages--the first in 2012-13 and the second in 2013-14. Nadrozny also hired an independent research firm to provide analysis of each curriculum option, as well as analyze the survey data gathered from the pilot schools. The district's curriculum department conducted site visits and gathered feedback from grade level teams, and then compared the results with the conclusions reached by the research firm. …

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