Boulder Valley School District

New K-5 Language Arts Materials Adopted

Randy Barber

In BVSD we fervently believe that every child deserves a strong foundation in literacy as part of a well-rounded education that fosters a love of reading and learning. Because of this commitment to literacy, we took great care to carry out an in depth and transparent process to select new materials that could best serve all learners and to provide a unified consistent approach to teaching the foundations of reading. 

The committee, composed of 55 members —the majority teachers, as well as principals, parents, and district staff — reviewed 10 different sets of core materials over a 4-month period. We are deeply grateful to the teachers, parents and staff who devoted five full days to this process and engaged in a very thorough and thoughtful review.

For bilingual schools (Columbine, Pioneer, University Hill), the committee selected ReadyGen - English (Pearson), ReadyGen Biliteracy (Pearson), Palabras a su Paso (Pearson), Estrellita, WELLS (Valley Speech) for students with special needs, and American Reading Company as a supplemental resource.

Alex Johnson, a teacher at University Hill and a member of the committee, is excited about these new dual language materials, especially the authentic texts of ReadyGen, which are written by Hispanic authors, and not just translations of English texts. In addition, said Alex, “Estrellita will provide a strong base in foundational skills in Spanish phonetics for Kindergarten and 1st Grade, in the way we authentically teach in Spanish. Students will have a much better foundation in Spanish and English literacy entering 2nd grade.” Most importantly, said Alex, despite the difference in approach at the three BVSD dual language schools, “We could all see these materials working in our school, and affecting change that supports consistency and academic rigor in both English and Spanish.”

For monolingual schools, the committee selected Wilson, Fundations® as the set of materials that will be used for foundational skills instruction. The group then selected Heinemann, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ as an interactive reading program. The committee felt these two sets of materials complement each other’s strengths and provide the best combination of materials to meet the needs of all learners.

According to second grade teacher and committee member Heather Hansen, “Fountas and Pinnell Classroom is quite literally the whole package and gives us as teachers the resources we have been working the double or triple shift to pull together to match the standards.” She mentioned that Boulder prides itself on the individuality of its schools and that even though we are choosing just one set of programs, she believes the chosen materials will continue to honor a school’s unique features.

The final decisions were made by evaluating a broad data set that included alignment to the BVSD literacy framework, components of reading, innovation guiding principles, and an external review of foundational skills. The committee overwhelmingly supported all of these selections.

Erin Nelson, a parent on the committee, had this to say at the Board meeting where the materials were approved: “Wilson Fundations is a research-based program that teaches students phonics, spelling and handwriting. Students will learn how our language works by teaching them to recognize, manipulate and decode simple and complex sounds. Understanding how our language works is critical knowledge for all students, including those who struggle with reading and advanced readers. Fundations combined with F&P Classrooms will give our students the best opportunity to become strong readers and life long learners.”

BVSD Instructional Services & Equity will be doing extensive training and professional development for teachers to launch these new materials in the 2018-19 school year and is very excited to bring these new materials into our elementary classrooms. For an in-depth report of the materials adoption process, read the report submitted to the Board of Education.


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