The 2017-18 school year will bring many updates and improvements to our current curriculum frameworks. In early August I was able to attend, along with three North Reading teachers, a full-day workshop on the changes that are coming to our frameworks in Massachusetts. At that workshopg several documents were shared that are posted here: http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/ and I’ve included some of the highlights below.
English Language Arts and Literacy (ELA)
The new 2017 frameworks include revisions that were gathered from a multi-year process that included feedback from teachers and other educators. These changes incorporate some of the standards that were “Massachusetts only” standards that exceeded the Common Core standards, further improving upon our frameworks. Below is a selection of the highlights from the document.
ELA/Literacy Anchor Standards
· Reading Standard MA.8.A: deleted; content adapted for integration into other standards, primarily Reading Literature Standards 4 and 5, for coherence and flexibility. Affects grades PK–12.
· Writing Standard 3: edited to encourage more flexible and nuanced approaches to narrative writing and to incorporate expectations from 2010 Writing Standard MA.3.A. Affects grades PK–12.
· Writing Standard MA.3.A: deleted; content adapted for integration into other standards, primarily Writing Standard 3, for coherence and flexibility. Affects grades K–12.
· Speaking and Listening Standard 4: new expectation of appropriate vocabulary use reinforces Language standards. Affects grades 1–12.
Grades 6–12 Literacy in the Content Areas
· Reading in History and Social Science and Reading in Science and CTE Subjects Standard 1: added references to quoting and paraphrasing to reinforce Writing standards. Applies to grades 6-8.
· Reading in History and Social Science and Reading in Science and CTE Subjects Standard 4: edited to emphasize academic (tier 2) along with domain-specific (tier 3) language.
· Writing Standards 1 and 2: edited to encourage wider variety of writing tasks and products.
· Writing Standard 7: expects more sustained research as well as shorter projects. Applies to grades 6-8.
· Speaking and Listening Standards 1–6: new for Literacy in the Content Areas.
Our curriculum leaders and teachers have been well informed about these changes and have provided feedback on these revisions. Teachers will use time this year during our professional development and department meeting time in order to unpack the standards in teams in order to best understand the best ways to implement them in the classroom.
The changes in mathematics are similar to the changes in ELA and also do not represent a major reworking of the 2011 frameworks. However, there are many improvements and shifts that reflect the feedback from educators in order to continuously improve the document.
At the elementary and middle school levels, in addition to some grade level shifts, there are changes to the language at all grade levels to provide further clarity around the standards. At the high school level there are some significant updates to all courses, with some standards moving from one course to another and some additions to the courses as well. These will be reviewed in detail by our Mathematics teachers in order to ensure that our curriculum continues to be aligned to the frameworks.
Other changes include updates to the Mathematical Practices to incorporate language that is appropriate for the grade level. Each grade still has the same 8 Mathematical Practices, however, language at the elementary, middle, and high school levels is now differentiated to include more clarity on how those practices look for students in those grades. I anticipate that these changes will be embraced by the educators as they provide more opportunities to clarify and communicate the vital practices in language that is even more accessible to the students.
A final update to the new Mathematics frameworks is the inclusion of some documents that were previously supplemental, including guidance on multiple pathways to Calculus for students.
Overall, the updates to the Mathematics and ELA Frameworks also include many of the elements of the previous frameworks prior to 2011 that many educators requested, including more examples of the standards in action. It is our hope that these revised frameworks will continue to hold students to the rigor and high levels of accountability as the previous iterations but with many improvements to benefit everyone.
In addition to these updates, educators and students in North Reading will continue the transition to the new Science, Technology, and Engineering frameworks this year, with our grades K-8 fully aligned and additional focus this year at the high school.
Furthermore, the Digital Literacy and Computer Science frameworks, first introduced in 2016, continue to be unpacked by all of our teachers and implemented with the help of our Digital Literacy specialists at every building.
And coming soon: updates to the Arts, Social Sciences and History, and more!
The 2017-18 school year will be a very engaging one for our educators who will tackle the best practices for incorporating these standards into their classroom practices, curriculum, and instruction. Having reviewed these documents I am confident that these changes represent a step in the right direction for improving student learning outcomes for all students in North Reading and look forward to unpacking these documents with our teachers this year.