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New curriculum materials approved by school board

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Brian Hart, the executive director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, explains the reasoning for new curriculum materials to the Sunnyside School Board, which voted to purchase the educational materials.

In its only action item during last night's regular monthly meeting, the Sunnyside School Board decided to adopt four new sets of curriculum materials. Brian Hart, the executive director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, gave a brief overview of each curriculum and the reasons the district wanted to adopt them. The Phoenix Curriculum is a supplemental program consisting of nine lessons at the sixth grade level about decision making, problem solving and peer pressure. The Holt McDougal Literature Common Core is for high school students in ninth through 11th grades and addresses a gap in meeting the state common core standards. The Reading and Writing Fundamentals program for grades 6-8 aligns with the common core standards and provides greater text complexity and various genres to assist with assessment. Reading Street is a pilot program for deaf students in K-5 and is being provided for review to the district. Hart said it would be used by about 10 students and replaces an inadequate phonics method. Hart said all the curriculum has been vetted by the Instructional Materials Committee and meets the bias evaluation and common core standards. The board voted unanimously to approve the materials. In other business, the board also discussed the district's STEM program and how it is progressing. A change in how the high school determines graduation honors, including valedictorian and salutatorian, was also discussed. Sunnyside High School Principal Ryan Maxwell said the school wants to remove some of the competitiveness and make it based solely on achievement. Board chair Miguel Puente noted that the proposed changes might penalize students in Running Start. Maxwell said his work group would look at the issue and return to the board.

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