The Public Schools of Robeson County is committed to providing all students with a sound basic education as required by law through a curriculum that strongly aligns with the standards and high-quality work—that offers a vision for education we would want for every child and guides all of our work.
“The ultimate goal of the district is to ensure that all students receive a strong educational foundation that will prepare them for life after high school,” said Dr. Windy Dorsey-Carr, assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.
Critical Race Theory
In light of recent events, the district seeks to clarify misconceptions and misinformation about the EL Education Curriculum. PSRC Central Office leaders, Principals, Assistant Principals and other staff members recently attended a community meeting held to provide answers concerning the curriculum and concerns by community members but were not allowed to speak to provide the facts.
There have been many concerns and misconceptions circulating in our communities about the curriculum regarding Critical Race Theory and education. Critical Race Theory is not a part of the EL Education curriculum in PSRC, nor is it part of any other curriculum utilized in our district.
Parent and School District Roles
The Public Schools of Robeson County does not promote any one particular agenda and believes that parents and caregivers play a critical role in their children’s education, including the foundation of values at home. Parents are our students’ first teachers and are partners in their children’s education. It is not the school district’s role to teach values; however, we do address character education (i.e. respect our differences) through Word of the Week and Habits of Character.
The Board of Education recognizes the value of family engagement in a child’s academic success and believes that the education of children is an ongoing, cooperative partnership between the home and school.
We encourage all parents and community members to schedule a visit to our classrooms to see students and teachers engaged in teaching and learning using the EL Education curriculum.
The EL Education K-8 Language Arts curriculum is a comprehensive, standards-based literacy program that engages teachers and students through compelling, real-world content. Our curriculum allows students to develop the skills needed to become leaders in a diverse society. Lessons encourage critical thinking, engagement, and opportunities to think through challenging questions and respond with thoughtful and deep responses.
“It is rooted in the science of reading and ensures that, by the end of grade 2, students acquire the depth of skills they need in the Reading Foundations standards to navigate grade-level text independently,” according to the EL Education website.
Compelling evidence can be found about EL Education’s success, including in the Detroit Public Schools Community District Partnership Schools, which saw 35 of 56 schools exit the low-performing list, according to the district’s website.
PSRC’s Core Values and Commitment
PSRC leaders are committed to providing an equitable education for all students. PSRC defines equity as a commitment to ensure students can follow their pathway of choice by providing the necessary curriculum and eliminating any barriers to success. We aim to ensure every student receives an equitable education by teaching the North Carolina Standards for PreK-13 in all areas, providing high-quality professional development for all teachers, and understanding all curriculum is core and taught through an integrated approach that allows all students to reach their fullest potential.
The EL Curriculum aligns with the Public Schools of Robeson County’s core values that are outlined in our strategic plan. Our core values are common principles and beliefs that guide the work of our students, educators, staff, and community.
INSPIRATION - Foster an environment that empowers and influences creative thinking, enthusiasm, and motivation to generate new ideas, goals, and actions.
INTEGRITY - Communicate and act in a trustworthy manner to build genuine relationships; the school community is committed to being self-aware, accountable, transparent, and responsible.
INTENTION - Act with purpose to achieve desired goals and outcomes; be deliberate and thoughtful with words, actions, decisions, and work to positively influence the school community.
INCLUSION - Value people for who they are, nurture diversity, ensure access to opportunities, promote a sense of belonging, and embrace the contributions of all students, families, and staff in order to strengthen the school community.
INNOVATION - Embrace forward thinking and creativity to transform solutions and ideas that will enable responsiveness to the expectations of the entire school community.
IMPROVEMENT - Engage in continuous improvement to enhance processes and protocols in order to generate the most effective and efficient organization to ensure long-term success.
Curriculum Selection and Vetting Process
Questions were raised on the selection of EL Education as our core curriculum. The Curriculum Department along with numerous stakeholders vetted different programs as outlined below:
Reviewed a variety of curriculum resources based on Policy 3200, NC Standard Course of Study, and EdReports.
Curriculum Supervisors reviewed the curriculum resources for alignment to the standards.
Media Specialists reviewed required books as part of the vetting process.
Once the curriculum was reviewed, the identified materials were piloted at several schools.
The curriculum materials were reviewed with the District Improvement Team which included parents, teachers, principals, Lumbee Tribe representatives, and PSRC District Office staff.
A Request for Proposals was sent out in April 2022 and proposals were reviewed for final identification in May 2022.
The funding was approved through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund III.
As a basis for our work, we relied on Board Policy 3200 - Selection of Instructional Materials, Section B:
B. Selection of Supplementary Materials
Supplementary materials are instructional and learning resources which are selected to complement, enrich or extend the curriculum. Such resources include, for example, specialized materials selected to meet diverse needs or rapidly changing circumstances, library materials, digital resources, the school system’s media collection, classroom collections and teacher-selected resources for individual classes.
1. Objectives for Selection of Supplementary Materials
The procurement of materials must be accomplished in accordance with law, including the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; board educational goals; board purchasing and accounting policies; and established selection guidelines, including the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association. The objectives for the selection of supplementary materials are as follows:
a. to provide a wide range of materials that will enrich and support the curriculum, taking into consideration the individual needs and varied interests, abilities, socio-economic backgrounds, learning styles and developmental levels of the students served;
b. to provide materials that will stimulate growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic values and ethical standards;
c. to provide a background of information that will enable students to comprehend their role as citizens in society and to make intelligent judgments in their daily lives;
d. to provide resources representing various points of view on controversial issues so that students as young citizens may develop, under guidance, the skills of critical thinking and critical analysis;
e. to provide resources representative of the many religious, ethnic and cultural groups in our nation and the contributions of these groups to our American heritage; and
f. to place principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice in the selection of material of the highest quality in order to ensure a comprehensive collection appropriate for all users.
The decision for EL Education was not taken lightly or in haste. We followed all necessary procedures and guidelines with the inclusion of numerous stakeholders. If additional information is needed, we encourage our parents and community members to contact the principal at your child’s school or to attend any family engagement event at the school or district levels.
THE PRINCIPALS' PERSPECTIVE
Dear Educational Stakeholders,
During collaborative discussions among school administrators regarding the EL Education curriculum, many positive outcomes were identified. All students in our school district have access to the same EL Education resources in elementary and middle schools. When any student transfers to another school within the district, they are provided the same resources and support they received at the previous school. The curriculum contains an abundance of resources for teachers and students. Detailed lesson plans, available digitally and through hard copy, are provided to assist teachers in maintaining fidelity in the delivery of rigorous lessons aligned with the N.C. ELA standards. Informational letters are available to assist families in supporting their students’ learning in the classroom by introducing upcoming topics and themes.
By implementing the new EL Education curriculum, students are formulating their thoughts and writing in complete sentences. Strategies are incorporated to provide support to all students as they develop writing skills across content areas. The EL Education curriculum includes vocabulary-rich texts, encouraging students to use content-related vocabulary to support their critical thinking. Evidence shows increased use of content-specific vocabulary across the school and outside of school. Students are able to use their new vocabulary learned in real-life conversations. During reading and discussion of texts, students have the opportunity to collaborate with others and voice their thoughts and opinions. This level of student interaction allows for connections to be made, while increasing student engagement. This also provides strong foundational skills for students to enhance their thinking and communication ability. Student work, observations, and other collected data show improved outcomes.
Principals and academic coaches continue to enhance their knowledge with ongoing EL Education professional development provided by the district. This training will help build teacher capacity and efficacy, while supporting their work within this curriculum. The learning progression allows educators to build on prior knowledge as students develop skills and advance through their academics.
We look forward to seeing the continued growth of our educators and students as we work collaboratively to prepare students to be college and career ready.
Dr. Sheri Dial Herndon
President of PSRC Principal and Assistant Principals' Association