Changes to English curriculum underway


photo by Lukas Goodwin

Sophomore Aracely Perez reads an article on Newsela. Her class comes to the media center to complete assignments every week.

Starting in the second quarter, every Wednesday, underclassman English classes are using instructional programs Achieve 300 and Newsela for reading practice, and Write Score for writing practice. County and school administrators have implemented these tools to improve students’ FSA scores.

With Write Score, students submit essays that are graded online, and then the results are sent to the English teachers with feedback. With the edits, teachers can then help students focus on improving the missed criteria.

“What is important is making sure these tools are used effectively enough by the teachers and students,” assistant principal Gisela Cotto said. “Our goal is to improve the FSA writes scores.”

In the reading programs Achieve 3000 and Newsela, students are graded on their reading skills by analyzing articles. In turn, they receive Lexile scores, a system that measures their reading levels.

“As long as the students stay motivated, [these programs] should help boost their test scores,” Cotto said.

Most students do not mind these adjustments to their curriculum. Although they are relatively new and still need to be tested, students like sophomore Ashley Munro believe that the programs have been able to enhance their learning experiences. Munro has already begun to utilize the website Newsela in her classroom.

“I think it is really helpful,” Munro said. “Plus, it is more interesting, because we get to learn about relevant, modern topics.”

However, the system still is not perfect, leaving some students wishing there was more to it.

“There are a good selection of articles to read, but I feel like it would be better if there were more to choose from,” Munro said.

Despite these problems, administration acknowledges that these implementations are still new, and they will try to perfect them as much as possible to make the experience easier and more interactive for the students.

“We will eventually regroup and look over the instructional plans,” Cotto said. “We want to figure out where students’ strengths and weaknesses are, so we can help them practice more.”