MPS plans ‘on pause’ while state develops reading standards

Marshall School Board hears update on school curriculum planning

MARSHALL — New language arts standards from the Minnesota Department of Education have a big difference from the past – now, the state is requiring schools to use approved curriculums.

“This is a huge shift,” said Beth Ritter, director of teaching and learning at Marshall Public Schools.

And while MPS teachers and district staff want to get going on planning for the new standards, they’re still waiting for the full list of MDE-approved curriculum.

“We’re waiting for that new curriculum list to be published,” Ritter told Marshall School Board members on Monday.

Ritter gave the board an update on curriculum planning in the Marshall district. MPS reviews its school curriculum in six-year cycles, Ritter said. The first year of a cycle is geared toward researching and reviewing the standards for learning in different academic subjects. In year two, the district works on developing programs for classroom curriculums, and in year three they start to implement the new curriculum and classroom resources, she said.

This year, the school subjects starting out their review cycles include social studies, physical education, and health, Ritter said. New state PE standards were implemented this year, and new state standards for social studies will need to be implemented by the 2026-27 school year.

“New K-12 social studies standards were just passed in the middle of March,” Ritter said.

However, it’s new standards for English and language arts that are “on pause” right now, while MPS waits for more guidance from the state, Ritter said.

Ritter said MPS is continuing to follow the requirements of the READ Act, which was passed last year. The READ Act has three big requirements for school districts, Ritter said. The first requirement was to use MDE-approved screening tools to check up on students’ literacy skills. The second was to use MDE-approved professional development programs in reading for teachers and support staff.

“Professional development is a huge, huge part of it. We have to train all our staff in the science of reading,” Ritter said.

The third big change was that the school district would need to use MDE-approved reading curriculum and resources.

“That’s a big shift and a big change,” Ritter said. However, the MDE is still working on approving a list of evidence-based reading programs. “What they were looking for was, is it sound and is it based in the science of reading?”

Ritter said a total of 29 reading curriculums were submitted to the MDE for consideration. So far, the MDE has only approved one comprehensive reading curriculum, three foundational curriculums which focus on skills like phonics, and one language comprehension curriculum.

While the state is reconsidering some of those 29 reading curriculums, Ritter said, “I don’t know if any of them will make it to the actual list.”

Some of the planning to implement new state standards at MPS will have to wait until the full list of approved curriculum materials comes out this spring, Ritter said.

Ritter said the “standstill” was frustrating for Marshall teachers. But hopefully, they won’t have long to wait. “It will be here soon. In a couple of weeks they have to make their list,” she said.


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