MPS spotlights early literacy with new curricula

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) are not only adopting a new elementary literacy curriculum but will also be looking to a new vision for literacy in the district. The road getting to a new literacy curriculum has been rocky.

In 2015 the school district purchased a new reading series from a company called Reading Horizons. That turned out to be a very controversial decision. Some of the teachers who were at a training session noticed that some of the books that went with that Reading Horizons curriculum were pretty racist. After a public outcry about that reading series, the school district canceled the contract and in the fall of 2016 started the process to find a new literacy curriculum all over again.

At the end of 2016, literacy curriculum vendors submitted proposals and a MPS steering committee identified three finalists. During the first few months of 2017, 12 Minneapolis schools piloted materials from those three vendor finalists. Three Northside schools piloted the three curriculums; Cityview, Hall and Bryn Mawr. In March and April the community was given opportunities to provide input. Then the administrators looked at literacy best practices, community input and evaluations of pilot materials to decide which curriculums to adopt. The selection process was committed to finding culturally relevant and responsive materials. Also, the new curriculums would need to focus on the “Big Five” of literacy acquisition– phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. On June 13 the Minneapolis Board of Education approved adopting Houghton-Mifflin curriculum for pre-kindergarten students and Benchmark Education Company curriculum for kindergarten through 5th grade students.

The Minneapolis Public Schools literary vision:

MPS students will become productive, inspired and literate global citizens through the development of effective reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. MPS students are engaged, independent and critical readers, writers and researchers. We believe in implementing explicit structures to support students and educators in building life-long literacy skills.