Skip to main content

Improving Our Curriculum

REI: Improving Our Curriculum

We are committed to ensuring that our curriculum reflects the students we teach and that the messages, lessons and themes within our curriculum serve as a counterbalance to the systemic racism within our society.

Our long term work toward these ends is grounded in the idea that students will build their understanding of anti-racist ideas over time if we construct a coherent set of resources and ideas over multiple grade levels.  Most of this continued work will take place in English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies coursework.

  • 2022-2023

    1. 4th grade ELA teachers and district administrators reviewed the Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) unit on the American Revolution. The team identified the essential learnings for this unit and selected supplemental materials to go with the existing CKLA content. Supplemental reading material was added on Black Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War. This unit will be field tested by fourth grade teachers this spring.   

    2. Grade 5, grade 8, and grade 9 ELA teachers and building and district administrators are currently reviewing possible novels for addition to the grade 5, 8, and 9 ELA curriculum maps. Members of these review teams are working on selecting one or two novels, per grade level, which will help to diversify the curriculum. The teams are looking for novels written by diverse authors and/or that contain diverse content, diverse characters, etc.   

    3. New English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum was adopted and purchased for 6th and 7th grade ELA. The curriculum was reviewed, in part, for diversity and bias. The new ELA curriculum (SpringBoard ELA) was found to include more diverse authors and more diverse texts than our prior ELA curriculum.

    4. The Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) reviewed and voted to approve curricular materials that were selected as supplements in U.S. History for grades 5 and 8 and novels in grade 6 English Language Arts. Materials that were reviewed and approved by the IMC include the following:
    a. supplemental materials for the grade 5 Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) Native American Unit, including materials from Since Time Immemorial (OSPI’s tribal sovereignty curriculum), Smithsonian, and Native Knowledge 360;
    b. novels for grade 6 ELA, including: The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis and Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd;
    c. supplemental materials for the grade 8 U.S. History unit titled: Sectionalism and the Civil War, including primary source documents (letters) for the Fugitive Slave Act and letters from Black soldiers and their family members.

    These supplemental materials were adopted by the UPSD School Board in 2022, making them part of each grade level’s adopted curriculum.

    5. More than 480 books were purchased for review and possible addition to our school libraries last school year. Our goal is increased and equitable access to non-curricular resources that are more representative of our students and those that include the perspectives and experiences of all peoples. About 60% of those books went through an initial review by classroom teachers and members of the Equity Advisory Committee. Books that have been through the first stage of review are going through a second stage of review. Books that are approved in this second stage will be purchased for school libraries. We’ll also continue reviewing the 40% of titles still left.

  • November 2021-June 2022
    The 6th and 7th grade ELA teams are field testing ELA curriculum for adoption in the spring of 2022. Parameters for equity and bias are part of this initial review/field test.

    December 2021
    The Equity Advisory Committee identified a subcommittee to work alongside teaching teams who are evaluating and modifying courses to be more equitable in accordance with Policy 2020. This subcommittee will rotate members according to their ability to serve and expertise in specific content areas. Members of this subcommittee will also review materials alongside the Instructional Materials Committee (IMC).

    November 2021
    The Grade 8 U.S. History Team began reviewing their unit on the Foundations of the Constitution.  The team identified places where supplemental student tasks and resources were needed.  A student task was selected from the Choices curriculum to supplement the content in this unit. 
    August 2021
    The Grade 11 U.S. History Team met to determine a plan for equity curriculum review.  The team will meet in second semester to identify units from their U.S. History curriculum that need revision and to work together to identify supplemental resources to fill gaps.  

    August 2021
    The Grade 8 U.S. History Team began reviewing their unit on The Southern Colonies.  The team identified places where supplemental resources were needed.  Additional resources were added to the unity, including an excerpt by Olaudah Equiano which gives a narrative account of what it was like on a slave ship.  

  • Upcoming Happenings

    1. Review continues for 5th, 8th and 11th grade U.S. History course maps and in English Language Arts, particularly for grades 2-12. This will be ongoing work.

    2. In 2023-2024, the Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) will review and vote to approve curricular materials that have been selected as supplements in U.S. History and English Language Arts. 

    3. At least 26 staff members, including: classroom teachers, librarians, building administrators, and district administrators, participated in the review of potential books for our school libraries. This review is one step in the district’s long term work of evaluating and improving our curriculum to be more representative of our students, to include the perspectives and experiences of all peoples, and to more accurately reflect the history of racism and discrimination in our country. As of May 2023, about 60% of these books have been reviewed and feedback has been provided about each book’s readability, grade-band/age appropriateness, and quality. A team will be recruited to continue this work, with the goal being to finish this entire review by August 2024.