The New Hope-Solebury School District’s educators selected a new literacy program and the school board approved it at its March meeting. The American Literacy Company Core program instruction will begin next fall for K-5 students.
Fifty percent of the district’s elementary teachers spent the trimester piloting the program, which emphasizes thematic, project-based learning.
“I have never seen a process like this,” said Dr. Andrew Ordover, chairman of the Curriculum Committee. “Getting all the teachers who will be implementing the program to touch it, see it, talk to people using it and vote on it.
“When the kids are motivated, the teachers are excited, and the administration is working hard, it’s pretty incredible,” added board President Judeth Finn.
The vote to adopt ARC Core was unanimous, but the final decision was not made without a rigorous process. More than 100 hours of committee meetings, site visits and training were involved in determining which one of seven initial programs to adopt.
“The team spent seven months conducting research and (we) implemented our own pilot program to assess student outcomes and engagement firsthand,” Dr. Amanda Benolken, director of education, said in an email. “Our teachers are excited to adopt the new program, which showed heightened student-driven learning.”
The use of ARC Core, plus the foundational skills program, Fundations, aligns with the practices of structured literacy and the tenets of the science of reading movement. The cost of the full program is $333,000, to be paid over two years and within the curriculum budget for next year.
“I just want to emphasize the work that the leadership team has done here to work from the ground up, to give agency to the teachers and to get them invested in the decision making and the research,” said Ordover. “It is their school and it is not just a series of mandates from the mountaintop.”
The next school board meeting is scheduled for April 27.