2017-01-06 / Community

SVUSD to adopt new English books

Parents may review materials at Jan. 11 meeting
By Michael Aushenker

Simi Valley Unified School District is on course to purchase new English-language arts textbooks and materials in February that will be used starting with the 2017-18 school year, if all goes according to plan.

All grade levels at SVUSD’s 26 elementary, middle and high school campuses will adopt new textbooks in English.

District officials have yet to determine the exact cost of the new books, but they expect the price tag to be somewhere “in the millions,” district spokesperson Jake Finch said.

“We have teachers who volunteered to pilot the materials in their classrooms to see if they work for the students,” Finch said. “Recommendations are then made and the chosen materials are then shown to parents and the community.”

Publishers of the materials under consideration will have representatives on hand to answer questions at a public meeting from 1 to 4 p.m. Wed., Jan. 11 at Monte Vista School, 1220 Fourth St.

Terri Leon, SVUSD coordinator of curriculum and assessment, is one of four people overseeing a 55-teacher adoption committee to select the new English books and accompanying materials. She said the district started the process in early 2016 after learning from the California Department of Education that a new English curriculum would be made available for adoption.

The committee pored over the state’s 300-page publication of available materials and chose a handful of books that were used in a pilot program that began in August with the 2016-17 school year.

Leon said that last semester 62 teachers across all grade levels used one book for the first quarter and a second book during the second quarter as part of the pilot program.

Elementary teachers used National Geographic Learning materials in the first quarter and Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt in the second quarter.

At the middle schools, teachers used McGraw-Hill during the first quarter and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt during the second quarter.

And at the high school level, teachers used Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the first quarter and Bedford materials for the second quarter.

Adoption process

After the Jan. 11 public meeting, the adoption committee will meet Jan. 12 to decide which middle and high school books to adopt. The committee will select books for the elementary level on Jan. 19.

After those decisions are made, the committee’s recommendations will go before the SVUSD Board of Education in February for final approval.

If all goes according to schedule, the new materials will be implemented at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Leon said the final cost of the new materials will depend on what the committee decides.

The curriculum coordinator added that the acquisition of the new books does not mean SVUSD’s former English materials were lacking in some way.

The previous curriculum “was usable, but we will be using something better,” she said.

This is the first time Leon, who taught for six years before becoming curriculum and assessment coordinator just over a year ago, has overseen a curriculum adoption.

“We have stuck so closely to how the state has done an adoption,” she said, adding that history materials will become available for adoption in 2018, followed by science in 2019.

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