Promoting Equity and Meeting All Student Needs
In order to ensure the optional curriculum effectively supports students from all backgrounds and challenges them to reach their full potential, the Chicago-specific curriculum will be inclusive, reflecting the rich cultural diversity of our students, and combine rigor and support with strategies for addressing diverse learning needs, including those of English learners and students with disabilities.
Key customized features of the curriculum will include:
- Cultural Responsiveness:The content will reflect and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our students.
- Support for Diverse Learners:The curriculum will contain specific modifications for student lessons and guidance for teachers to meet the individual needs of their students.
- Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Framework: The district’s existing system of identifying students in need of additional support and ensuring they have what they need to be successful will be incorporated.
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Curriculum will incorporate SEL so that every subject incorporates holistic elements.
- Spanish Translation: All documents containing prompts or instructions for students will be available in Spanish.
“The Curriculum Equity Initiative will level the playing field so that all schools and all students in all parts of the city will all have access to the same high-quality instructional resources,” said Principal of Plamondon Elementary, Dr. Althea Hammond. “My teachers are excited to for this multi-functional resource, which will allow them to design coursework and instruction with ease and creativity.”
Designed With Teachers in Mind
The Curriculum Equity Initiative is a multi-year effort to design a suite of digital curricular resources with a wide range of functionality to help support all of the content and instructional needs of every educator. While most instructional materials are already available in digital format, this new resource will have advanced functionality to enable teachers to copy and modify materials to meet the unique needs of their students and support all of the content and instructional needs of every educator.
Not only will this resource include culturally relevant, interactive content, but it will also include scope and sequence, units of study, learning activities, assessments, and guides that will allow every educator to customize lessons to fit their classroom environment. Teachers will have the flexibility to adopt the full curriculum or supplement their current curriculum with the modern resources included in the digital library. This new resource will give teachers the ability to utilize digital and print-based learning activities, lessons, assessments and materials for their students to complete.
“I am spending an endless amount of time developing resources during the school year and 2-3 hours per week over the summer,” said Portage Park Elementary School teacher Pamela Nicandro-Osorio. “The Curriculum Equity Initiative will save teachers like me time and money so I can focus on student learning."
The initiative will be released in phases, beginning in September 2019 with the release of a content package of digital learning resources, which will include interactive lessons that can be used to build on existing instructional materials. The district will begin rolling out the first phase of the custom curriculum, which will include the full digital suite of units and lessons, in early 2020, with a full target completion date of July 2021. When complete, the suite of instructional resources will span every grade from Pre-K through grade 12 in all core subject areas.
In order to ensure that Chicago teachers are able to shape the new curriculum, the district is establishing the CPS Curriculum Collaborative, a group of more than 100 Chicago teachers from every grade that will provide feedback on the curriculum content as part of the district’s formal review process. The district will be launching an application in June 2019 for teachers interested in joining the Curriculum Collaborative.
Currently, CPS, through a combination of discretionary school funds and central spending, spends approximately $30 million a year on instructional resources, which do not currently benefit all classrooms. In order to provide a complete and multi-functional curriculum and digital platform, the district is seeking to enter into multi-year contracts with several vendors for a not-to-exceed amount of $45 million on a yearly basis for three years. These costs will cover curriculum content development for every core subject, professional learning, project management, translation, support and maintenance, and allow schools that currently spend their own discretionary funds on curriculum to instead spend those funds on other educational resources. Following the first three years of the initiative, during which the curriculum and digital platform will be implemented, the costs are expected to drop to approximately $20 million per year, which will primarily cover licensing and maintenance to ensure the curriculum stays relevant for years to come.
The vendors were selected based on the recommendations of evaluation teams, which were comprised of teachers, content experts, and district staff. Nearly half of the evaluation teams were comprised of CPS teachers, and all evaluation teams featured representatives with a background in educating diverse learners and English learners.
At the May 22 Board Meeting, the district will seek to execute contracts with the following vendors, following a competitive solicitation process: Amplify, Illuminate, McGraw-Hill, Public Consulting Group (PCG) and Vista Higher Learning. If approved, district curriculum leaders and teachers will then work with the vendors to develop custom curriculum for Chicago students.
Chicago Public Schools serves 361,000 students in 644 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.
*An earlier version of this release unintentionally omitted one of the vendors included in the Board report.