Carroll ISD is home to some of the most amazing language arts and English teachers in the state of Texas. The assessment results of CISD’s students have proven this time and again. The past year was especially challenging for these great teachers as the state has undergone massive changes to curriculum, instruction, and assessment in all areas, but most intensively in the area of language arts. Some of these changes include implementing a completely revised set of language arts curricular objectives (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – TEKS) in August 2009, undergoing a textbook adoption for reading in grades K-12 (Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2010) during the 2009-10 school year and another textbook adoption (Proclamation 2011) for handwriting and language arts during the 2010-11 school year, and redesigning the state’s assessment system in grades 3-12 (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness – STAAR).
All of these state-level changes have necessitated major district-level changes in order to ensure that our classrooms reflect the new state standards and that our students are prepared for the new assessments which will be administered for the first time in the 2011-12 school year. Several parents have commented this year about the increased level of rigor they are seeing in certain areas of language arts. They are seeing more challenging assessments of skills in grammar and reading than they may have seen when their older children went through these same grades. These changes may be the result of either the change in the state language arts curriculum (TEKS), the change in textbooks used in the district, or the change in instructional methodology that some teachers are making based on updated professional development related to the teaching of reading and writing.
Overall, teachers have handled all of the new developments with enthusiasm and hard work. Committees of teachers worked tirelessly during the 2009-10 school year (and summer) to revise CISD’s curriculum documents (commonly referred to as the “Scope and Sequence” documents). Many teachers have participated in training presented by the publishers of our new reading and literature textbooks so that they may better understand all of the resources now at their disposal. Teachers in grades K-4 (and increasingly in grades 5-6) have continued to hone their skills in implementing reading and writing workshop instruction. This has included training by experts at Columbia Teachers College, participating in study groups, and collaboration in campus-based professional learning communities to develop effective classroom literacy practices. Additionally, teachers have worked hard this year to both select more new textbooks and prepare for the upcoming transition to the STAAR assessment.
If your favorite language arts teacher looked a bit exhausted at the end of this past school year, now you know why! The work has been intense, but the payoff in student learning and achievement ought to be worth all of the effort. Please join me in thanking and applauding the efforts of CISD’s English and language arts teachers!