21st Century Learning
Denver Will Expand its Use of Expeditionary Learning's Open Source Curriculum
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Denver Public Schools is doubling down on its relationship with Expeditionary Learning (EL). The 90,000-student district will adopt EL’s English language arts curriculum in grades four through eight in the 2015-2016 school year.
EL is a nonprofit education organization that has working closely with the Denver district to remake one of its schools, Centennial. Changes there included extended learning-time plans that added 300 hours of student time during the school year, extending each school day by 45 minutes, and "enrichment Wednesdays," where students participate in dance, art, cooking, technology and science and other topics delivered by external school providers, giving school teachers more planning time.
Under the new deal, EL will provide its open source ELA curriculum to 18,000 students in grades six through eight, as well as a majority of students in grades four and five. The new materials adhere to Colorado's Measures of Academic Success. That assessment is built on the Common Core State Standards and uses online assessments developed by PARCC. EL said that downloads of its ELA curriculum recently reached 3.2 million, an increase of 50 percent since last August. The organization will also deliver professional development to 600 teachers and administrators throughout the district, starting this summer.
"We believe Expeditionary Learning's curriculum is an exemplar standards-based literacy option for all students," said Devin Fletcher, the district's executive director of curriculum and instruction, in a prepared statement. "The modules build knowledge and skills toward performance tasks, offer differentiated supports for students, and provide independent reading and choice opportunities."
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.