Highland Park ISD will start the 2022-2023 school year with new English language arts materials for grades K-8.
Highland Park ISD trustees on June 23 picked replacements for the Units of Study materials published by Heinemann for teaching reading and writing in grades K-8, which had been in place since 2019.
They approved the adoption of the Open Court Reading Foundational Skills Kit materials from McGraw Hill for K-3 phonics, Open Court Reading materials from McGraw Hill for reading and writing in grades K-5, and SpringBoard ELA materials from CollegeBoard for grades 6-8.
“In multiple conversations we had with the consultants, we talked about the fact that a resource is just a resource, and we’re writing our own curriculum, and they are going to peruse the resource carefully this summer,” trustee Bryce Benson said.
Benson serves on the district’s ELA subcommittee with trustees Stacy Kelly and Maryjane Bonfield; Lisa Wilson, assistant superintendent for education services; and Superintendent Tom Trigg.
“For example, if there is a text for third grade that’s not as rigorous as the consultants think it should be, then we’re going to identify another text that’s appropriate, so I feel very comfortable about rigor and our own curriculum writing process,” Benson said.
Trustees in April agreed to phase out the Units of Study materials, and the district hired consultants Robyn Hartzell and Dr. Thea Woodruff.
Hartzell, a former teacher, has experience as an instructional coach, interventionist, trainer, consultant, and program coordinator at the campus and regional levels. Woodruff, a professor at the University of Texas and Meadows Center researcher, is the principal author of the Texas Reading Academies.
School district officials estimated the cost of implementing the materials at between $1 million and $2 million, not including the costs of the services of the consultants. However, Trigg said the price would likely be closer to $1.5 million.
HPISD will primarily use a portion of available Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) supplemental funds to cover the costs of the new materials, and the purchase will not impact the district’s year-to-year budget.
“One-time revenues like ESSER funds help the district fulfill this type of need without taking away from recurring expenditures like salaries,” Bonfield said.
As for the consultants, district spokeswoman Tammy Kuykendall said a total of $42,000 was encumbered to cover the initial costs of their services as the district worked through the materials selection and review process. Trigg said they will likely continue working with the district at least through the 2022-2023 school year.
HPISD English Language Arts teachers in grades K-8 will receive targeted professional development on the selected materials in preparation for use with the start of the new school year.