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Estacada students will have new language arts and foreign language materials.

COURTESY PHOTO: ESTACADA SCHOOL DISTRICT  - The Estacada School District board approved new reading and language arts materials for kindergarten through 8th grade students. The district is still deciding on a curriculum for high school students.

After months of committee meetings and evaluating materials, the Estacada School District board recently approved new reading and language arts materials for kindergarten through eighth-grade, but hasn't yet decided on the new books for high school students.

"This is a very big purchase for our district that lasts six years, so it is quite a big commitment," Jennifer Behrman, principal of River Mill Elementary School and a member of the adoption committee, told the school board at a recent meeting.

For students in elementary school, the school board approved a curriculum called Benchmark Advance that was recommended by the adoption committee.

The reading and writing program includes "explicit phonics lessons." The company also says on its web page that the materials feature "culturally responsive instruction."

In addition to regular books, the Benchmark Advance curriculum exploits technology and uses eBooks, videos and real-time technology in the classroom.

Middle school students will be using materials from a program called Amplify ELA (English language arts).

That vendor says its materials prepare students "for high school and beyond. With Amplify ELA, students learn to tackle any complex text and make observations, grapple with interesting ideas and find relevance for themselves."

For example, in eighth-grade, units include everything from "the space race collection" to William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to a "Liberty & Equality" section which features the writing of poet Walt Whitman, abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, among others.

Middle schoolers will keep their writing in one place with an Amplify personal writing journal.

The middle school Amplify program has a digital library with more than 650 fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary titles, the company said.

The elementary school program costs $204,930 and the middle school $62,040.

The Oregon Department of Education requires schools to review and adopt new instructional materials every few years, so that materials are up-to-date.

Despite the rigorous examination and evaluation of the language arts materials, committee member and elementary instructional coach Lindsey Fullenwider said "there is no perfect curriculum."

The materials must meet state standards and the ODE has a list of approved programs making adoption easier. Schools can buy a program not on the list, but if they do, the materials must meet certain criteria.

The committee for the high school language arts program is still deciding what to select.

The school board also selected materials for English proficiency courses and instructional programs for world language instruction.

The "Signing Naturally" curriculum for American Sign Language will cost $6,483 for six years and the high school Spanish program called EntreCulturas will cost $27,102 for the six-year adoption period.


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