Tuesday, March 29, 2011

OPEN COURT OUT, TREASURES IN: New elementary reading curriculum is expected to improve learning.


EDUCATION: School board votes to replace Open Court program

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/enF3XB

03/29/2011 06:34:53 PM PDT - Los Angeles Unified officials on Tuesday approved a new reading curriculum for all elementary schools, replacing the long-standing Open Court program.

While Open Court was credited with improving reading skills, district officials said it was time to replace the 11-year-old program, which was also criticized as too scripted and rigid.

The program was also ineffective for LAUSD's English language learners, who make up one-third of the district's student population.

The new Treasures program - which like Open Court is published by McGraw-Hill - was described as more cost-effective and flexible, allowing educators to improve classroom learning.

Treasures also has a stronger focus on writing and theme-based learning, and includes a website for parents.

"This will allow us to go to the next level of ability and skills for both our students and our teachers," said John Deasy, who will take over in April as superintendent.

The Treasures program was adopted for six years at a total cost of $10 million. The district also expects to save $50 million over the same period - the cost of reproducing out-of-print materials for Open Court.

Some teachers have been skeptical about the district's decision to launch a new program at a time of declining resources. But officials said educators will receive training this summer so the Treasures program can be launched in the fall.

"The ultimate litmus test will be the results we see with our kids," said LAUSD board member Richard Vladovic. "We will sit back and expect those results."


L.A. Unified School Board approves new reading curriculum

Matthew Harang | LA City Buzz Examiner | http://exm.nr/eVWJT1

March 29th, 2011 7:34 pm PT - Decision-makers in the Los Angeles Unified School District met Tuesday to vote on important curriculum that will be used in the city’s elementary schools. The board voted to suspend the use of the current lesson plan, known as the Open Court program, in favor of the Treasures reading curriculum, L.A. Daily News reported. LAUSD has used Open Court for the last 11 years, but many felt that it was time for change.

This was an important decision for many reasons. First of all, considering the budget crisis, local school districts must learn to economize while maintaining and increasing the quality of education. The Treasures program is said to me more cost-effective, and the District estimates that it will save approximately $50 million over the next 6 years by changing the curriculum. The decision-makers should be applauded: the more that LAUSD can save on materials, the less faculty they will be forced to lay-off.

Another reason that this change is an important one is the quality of education in L.A. public schools. California and Los Angeles in particular have many schools that are sub-par, and it is essential that improvements are made to the systems. The new reading curriculum promises to be more flexible and effective for elementary-aged children; it is also designed to help teacher better instruct new English learners, who make up one-third of LAUSD students.

John Deasy who will become the newest superintendent of the district in April, hailed the decision to adopt the new program: "This will allow us to go to the next level of ability and skills for both our students and our teachers.”

Time will tell if the new reading program is more effective than the last. Nevertheless it is promising to see that the school board understands the need for changes, for budgetary reasons and for efficacy. Hopefully, this will be just the first of many alterations to the flawed public school system

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