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Preparing Students for a Dynamic Future through our Curriculum and Program Review Process

In recent years, teachers, students and families have experienced a number of significant

academic changes, for example, the adoption of new math curriculum and instructional framework, the expansion of elementary talent development to every student, the introduction of Ojibwe and Arabic in elementary school, and phasing in honors-level literacy for all at the middle school. But are you familiar with how these decisions and changes get made? 

At the heart of our district's continual improvement process is a deep commitment to teacher leadership. Classroom teachers, who make up some of our most experienced instructional content experts actively engage in the three-year process. They conduct extensive research on best practices, innovative strategies, and successful programs from around the country. By learning from the teachings of racially diverse scholars, they collectively make recommendations to the superintendent regarding curriculum and program changes.

“Being part of a design team has played a crucial role in my development as an educator. The work helped me understand the immense potential of collaboration, reflection, and shared leadership. The process of acquiring knowledge, understanding and sharing multiple viewpoints, and communicating with students, families, colleagues, administration, consulting teams and then taking action to make our school district a better and just place lies at the heart of our mission,” shared Anne LaLonde Laux, Elementary IB Coordinator and member of the IB Design Team.

In their Phase 1 report, the Music Design Team shared their belief that music is human and that all humans have innate musicality. We believe all racial and cultural identities are assets to music learning and our community; the musical richness of each learner’s individual brilliance belongs within, and enhances, our music curriculum, classes, and community.

“Having graduated from a highly respected music conservatory, I thought I knew most things about music. It wasn’t until I got my master’s degree that I realized that the system had given me a very narrow, Euro-centric music training that was focused on technical skills over music literacy skills. I realized that there were more cultures and skills in the music world that I didn’t know,” said David Davis, member of the Music Design team. 

St. Louis Park Public Schools’ Curriculum and Program Review Process is a comprehensive approach to ensure that every instructional/program area undergoes a three-year curriculum review and design process. Every five years, the area starts the review cycle again to ensure continuous improvement. The 12 areas include: Health/Physical Education, International Baccalaureate, Literacy and Language Arts, Math, Multilingual Learning, Music, Progress Reporting, Science, Social Studies, Student Services, Gifted Education/Talent Development, and World Language and Cultures.

With a focus on our strategic plan for racial equity transformation, teacher leaders play a vital role in measuring previous success and determining next steps within each curricular area. By continuously aligning our curriculum with state standards and strategic priorities, we ensure that St. Louis Park Public Schools remain at the forefront of academically rigorous globally-minded education.

Let's take a closer look at each year of our review process:

Year 1: Looking Inward - Know ThySelf: During the first year of the three-year review, the design team undertakes the following activities: teacher self-reflection, examination of disaggregated data, listening and reflecting upon student voice and community input, unpacking standards driven by Racial Equity Purpose Statements, exploring the intersection their program with of International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), & Immersion & Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP), and engaging in Courageous Conversations.

Year 2: Looking Around - Distinguish Knowledge from Foolishness: In the second year, the design team focuses on the following activities: researching and visiting regional, national, and international exemplars, engaging scholars of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, establishing criteria for adopting new materials or professional development, and engaging in Courageous Conversations.

Year 3: Looking Outward - Build for Eternity: In the final year of the review process, the design team focuses on the following activities: developing content area belief statements, adopting new curriculum with fidelity or engaging in curriculum writing, establishing collaborative team and professional development plans, developing multi-year benchmarks for success, and engaging in Courageous Conversations.

To ensure transparency and accessibility, we’ve created a new webpage dedicated to our curriculum and program review process. This webpage provides families with a long-term view of how St. Louis Park Public Schools continually reviews its curriculum and programs. It shows the review timeline between 2019-2030 and provides an overview of the current status and progress of each curriculum or program area. It will serve as a valuable resource for understanding our commitment to excellence and equity in education.

As an example, this spring, three curriculum/program areas presented their recommendations: Health & Physical Education, Social Studies, and Progress Reporting. These recommendations, which will be considered for implementation in the next school year, along with board presentations can be found on our website.

Curriculum and Program Review Process