The Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, is currently engaged in the process of adopting a new science curriculum for grades K-3.
According to a Jan. 19 press release from BUSD, the adoption committee is made of classroom teachers, who have been piloting three different science curricula.
“I believe that any curriculum that is being used should be demonstrated to be effective,” said Tse-Sung Wu, president of the Berkeley parent-teacher association council, in a text message. “There’s been some interesting reporting about the early reading curriculum used in many parts of the US and it appears to be quite problematic.”
According to Adelita Martinez, coordinator of professional development for BUSD, the current curriculum is outdated and not aligned with the New Generation Science Standards, or NGSS. A new science curriculum for grades 4-8 was adopted in winter 2021, she added, but this update did not apply to grades K-3.
Martinez noted that the three curricula that have been piloted — Mystery Science, Full Option Science System Pathways and Twig Science — are made to align with next-generation standards. She added that the curricula addressed the core ideas of science, major shifts and science and engineering practices.
In addition, all three curricula support instruction in Spanish, facilitating the dual immersion program.
“The teachers on the adoption committee have piloted the curriculum … and have collected formative data and assessment, they get all the resources they need to implement,” Martinez said. “It has been a very thorough process and a big commitment.”
The next step in adoption is a community event, Martinez said. To that end, there will be a Zoom meeting for community input hosted Thursday, Jan. 26 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Martinez noted that, after this meeting is complete, the committee will analyze the data and make a decision on which curriculum to use, which will be presented to the BUSD board.
“It’s going to ensure that students have access to NGSS standards and the rigor of those standards, the three areas within those standards,” Martinez said. “(This) ensures access to a standards-aligned curriculum in Spanish, guaranteed professional development for teachers; for families they are ensured that their children are getting hands-on experience in sciences.”