WCPSS, Largest District in NC, Going Digital

Books vs digitalWake County Public School System (WCPSS) is going all digital by dropping textbooks for Open Education Resources (OER’s).

The grades affected will include 3rd through 8th by the 2019-2020 school year. These grades will shift their English Language Arts resources to “Expeditionary Learning” OER’s.

The other shift to digital OER’s will be affecting high school students in Math. The “Math Vision Project” or MVP will replace the current math texts.

Cost reduction seems to be a key point in moving to OER’s.

WCPSS currently has proposed a $1.6 billion dollar budget for 2017-18.

WCPSS asked parents and the public for curriculum input earlier this year at scheduled community meetings, however only 58 attended.

Board member Roxie Cash seemed oblivious to the lack of community engagement, telling the News and Observer that “The buy-in from the community is going to add so much success to what you’re doing.”

The attempt for input, however, appears to be more for show than for the solicitation of real feedback.

Brian Kingsley, assistant superintendent of Wake Schools told WNCN that the digital OER project has been underway since 2015.

In order to make the move to OER’s, teaching staff for all grade 3 and 6 as well as Math 1 teachers will be required to attend a two-day long event called, “Face-to-Face Professional Learning.” That training will begin in June and run all Summer long.

Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning Inc. (EL) is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Their Tax ID number is 06-1576405 and their reported revenue in 2014 was $14,112,024.

EL’s curriculum was commissioned by the state of New York using Race To The Top grant funding.

Other funding includes grants over $500,00 from the Bloomberg Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, EMC, Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, Helmsley Foundation and the Hewlitt Foundation.

The EL resources are ‘free to any teacher’ and are hosted on the pro-Common Core website, EngageNY.org.

The EL “approach” appears to be centered on social-emotional learning (SEL), focusing more on social justice, ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’ than actual grammar, comprehension and other historically taught English Language Art skills.

The choice of reading materials starts with teaching, “human rights” to 10 and 11 year-old fifth graders.

The human rights lesson is taught via the already controversial book, Esperanza Rising.  The past use of the book in North Carolina schools has already been the subject of national headlines.

Parents objected to the use of the book for  glorifying illegal immigration and unions and for demonizing law enforcement and ‘rich’ land owners’. The book also incorrectly infers that U.S. Citizens can be deported.

Math Vision Project

Math Vision Project appears to be a for-profit business which partners with a company called Lessoneer, based in Portland, Oregon.

The MVP website states that, “The Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) curriculum has been developed to realize the vision and goals of the New Core Standards of Mathematics. The Comprehensive Mathematics Instruction (CMI) framework is an integral part of the materials.”

Their website also notes that, “This work is based upon a previous work authored by Mathematics Vision Project in cooperation with the Utah State Office of Education (c) 2012. ”

MVP, like EL for English Language Arts, seems to be focused on the social-emotional side of learning. Multiple times both in the teacher and parent FAQ’s the phrase, “classroom experience,” crops up.

Parents are instructed to, “Support your child’s teacher by valuing the classroom experience.”

These OER’s are being called ‘free’ resources, but that may not be the case. MVP’s digital products range anywhere from $32 to $189.

Lessoneer highlights their materials are Common Core Aligned:

“School districts across the country have discovered that they can realize the vision of the Common Core State Standards using the MVP curriculum, while avoiding the license fees charged by traditional publishers. Lessoneer has partnered with MVP to provide anytime, anywhere access to the MVP curriculum and all of the support materials teachers need on a daily basis, eliminating the need for expensive printing. Districts can use the money they save on license fees and printing for professional development to support teachers in improving classroom instruction.”

“MVP Materials are created from the ground-up to embody the focus, coherence, and rigor of Common Core and immerse students in the Standards for Mathematical Practice”

Common Core Aligned

According to the presentation given to the WCPSS board, these materials are Common Core aligned.

The presentation states that, “EL was created to address the shifts in the Common Core standards as well as address the future needs of students competing in a global community.”

The presentation also says that, “OERs designed since the publication of Common Core (and NCSS) incorporate the “shifts” in ways traditional publishers may not.”

These OER’s have been supported by the Hewlitt – a major Common Core proponent.

The WCPSS presentation did not include a historical look at districts or states already using either MVP or EL in terms of individual performance and test scores, nor how it will impact students with learning disabilities.


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Wright M. Shumate

Wayne County is going to do the same thing. They’re trying to make sure that everyone in the county first has access to high speed internet, via cell towers.

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