During the third week of September, every fifth-grade student in the School District of Philadelphia reads part of a story called The Hot and Cold Summer and reviews "declarative sentences." The next week, students read a section of Sees Behind Trees and learn about "exclamatory sentences."
This districtwide uniformity is the result of Philadelphia's new standardized "core curriculum," a multimillion-dollar package of new books, materials, assessments, and professional development aimed at improving students' academic achievement.
Last fall, teachers of students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) did not receive their own core curriculum materials like their colleagues teaching in mainstream K-9 classrooms did.
Instead, according to several ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teachers interviewed by the Notebook, they had to borrow and photocopy materials from regular classroom teachers in order to effectively instruct ELL students on grade-level material.