PreK-12 ELA Mission, Vision, Values and Goals

  • The purpose of English Language Arts (ELA) in The School District of University City is to equip students with the reading, writing, speaking and listening, knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed for them to thrive in college and career, and to flourish as aware and active global citizens.  SDUC’s ELA program has been designed to bring to life the Learning Reimagined pillars of humanizing, personalizing, and problematizing learning by engaging students in deep investigation of complex texts and rich topics relevant within and beyond the classroom via their reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Our goal is to disrupt systemic issues of inequity, historical underperformance and unhealthy practices that have led to educational trauma for our students; and to create transformational systems to address their diverse academic and social-emotional needs through district-wide ELA instruction. To accomplish this, we will teach in a historically and culturally relevant manner that centers racial equity and anti-racism, using research-based, systematic approaches.

    Effective ELA instruction includes the following features:

    Foundational skills will be taught and developed in an explicit and systematic, multi-sensory manner when engaging with rigorous and meaningful text

    • We will leverage brain-based reading instruction to build strong foundational reading skills.

    • We will develop scholars with strong word recognition skills and strong language comprehension abilities to achieve reading comprehension. 

    • We will use the Four-Part Processing Model to educate all of the processing systems and enable them to work together to develop the reading brains of our scholars.

      • Phonemic awareness including the additions, deletion, substitution, and manipulation of syllables and phonemes

      • Phonics, transferred to writing, spelling, and while reading connected text

      • Decodable texts

      • Morphology (roots, affixes) and Etymology (word origins)

    Complex, worthy and culturally responsive texts are at the heart of every lesson

    • Texts meet quantitative and qualitative complexity expectations for the grade band, in alignment with college and career-ready standards.

    • Texts offer windows, mirrors and doors for students, such that students both see their own experiences and identities reflected and gain insight into the experiences and identities of others--thereby increasing equity and access to new opportunities..

    • Texts are artfully grouped such that students engage with a variety of genres and text types in order to build their textual lineages, deepen knowledge, skills, and vocabulary while instilling a love of reading.

    • Texts are intentionally selected to expose students to rich, powerful, diverse content to develop and celebrate students’ identities and empower them to build criticality to become change agents.

    Tasks offer access to grade-level rigor, preparing all students to flourish as global citizens

    • Daily learning targets align to the demands of college- and career-ready standards and grade level expectations, and include daily formative tasks that provide evidence of student mastery and inform adjustments to instruction.

    • Questions and tasks require students to produce evidence from the text, both orally and in writing; all students write in response to text daily.

    • Questions and tasks engage students in determining the essential meaning of the text and analyzing the elements of craft used to convey that meaning.

    • Students produce writing in response to text at both the daily and extended levels, including for authentic purposes and diverse audiences; student voice and choice are central to instruction and exploration.

    • Students write in a variety of modes and genres, with a bias towards evidence-based argumentation and analysis. 

    • Tasks are leveraged to develop students’ leadership abilities, to build voice and agency, to strengthen critical thinking and communication skills.

    All students grapple with and discuss rigorous content, grounded in textual evidence 

    • Scaffolds and supports are differentiated based on individual student needs, but all students engage with grade-level texts and tasks; students historically farthest from opportunity do not experience watered-down content.

    • Students carry the cognitive load in class and engage in authentic meaning-making through multiple reads of texts.  

    • Questioning, prompting, modeling, and discourse push students beyond their initial thinking and towards the increasing sophistication and clarity needed beyond the classroom.

    • Teachers strategically differentiate their instruction, using a gradual release sequence when appropriate and flipping the sequence at other moments in order to push more of the cognitive lift to students.

    • Students engage in meaningful discussions about the text, using evidence and debating in precise academic language based on a variety of possible interpretations of the evidence.

    • Students pursue authentic learning to explore their curiosities, passions and interests.

    • Students and teachers learn and grow alongside each other, and feel psychologically and emotionally safe and free to dream, experiment, fail and iterate.

    Goals: How will we measure our progress in student achievement?

    Each year: 

    • We will increase the number and percentage of students reading and writing on grade level, as measured by various district assessments, until at least 80% of students achieve grade level status without additional instructional time.

    • We will use grade-level content as the foundation of all instruction to facilitate the building of skill, knowledge and vocabulary and will use common formative and summative assessments to monitor growth.

    • We will leverage texts at students’ reading levels to help them build confidence, stamina and joy; we will engage students in mapping their textual lineages to record impactful texts they encounter throughout their learning journeys.

    • Each student will publish four proficient writing products (scored with the district-approved grade level scoring guide) and will be able to present their work to others with confidence (ex: student led conferences). Students will choose the pieces that best represent them as writers to add to a portfolio that follows them through their years within SDUC. 

    • We will implement high quality assessments (formative and summative), driven by research and best practices,  across all buildings to monitor the progress of our students and to develop instructional plans to meet their various needs.

    • We will make data-driven instructional decisions within our professional learning communities (PLCs).