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Elementary Literacy Committee Recommends 'Benchmark Advance'

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Issaquah School District has reached the conclusion of a more than two-year process of selecting integrated reading comprehension and writing curriculum for grades K-5. “Selecting the curriculum that will be the right choice for our elementary schools has been our highest priority,” said Michelle Pickard, Director of Teaching and Learning, Elementary.  
The ISD Comprehensive Literacy Adoption Committee met on March 28, 2024, and voted with 100% consensus to recommend Benchmark Advance (Benchmark Adelante for Dual Language) curriculum and materials for reading comprehension, writing, language and grammar, kindergarten through fifth grade.  

“We are thrilled with the consensus decision to recommend Benchmark Advance as our integrated literacy curriculum,” Pickard said.  

Here are a few things field testers (teachers who used the curriculum in their classes as part of a pilot project) had to say about the preferred curriculum:  

  • Second grade teacher: “Benchmark has so much to offer, giving multiple options for reaching learners at all levels, while still being rigorous. Having choices and flexibility is huge.” 
  • Third grade teacher: “Benchmark was aligned with the science of reading and had the necessary resources to support a diverse group of learners.” 
  • Fourth grade teacher: “[Benchmark Advance] was more engaging, easier to follow, and it better supports student needs through scaffolding, small group instruction, and differentiation. Also, it allows for student choice, has more time for independent reading and writing, and the data from the online assessments was super helpful in tracking my students' progress so I could better differentiate to meet their needs.”  
  • Fifth grade teacher: “Benchmark provided engaging texts and topics for students to help build background knowledge and vocabulary. It was easy to use and provided teachers with small group materials including texts to build knowledge for all readers, reader's theaters, fluency practice, built in grammar and phonics instruction, and I liked the quick units…I also think the texts were interesting, on a variety of topics, and had authentic authors. I think the scaffolds for [Multi-Lingual] students and aligned curriculum is essential when our goal is to have standard knowledge base and vocabulary for all students to engage in.”  

Students from the pilot classrooms also had feedback to share regarding Benchmark Advance:  

  • Third grade student: “I think Benchmark has really good books, and it teaches you how to make good decisions and about good people.”  
  • Fourth grade student: “I would recommend Benchmark because the lessons are easier to follow and more fun. The lessons are also more challenging...The topics in Benchmark are also more diverse, which makes it more interesting. The goals are also less repetitive and easier to follow...”  
  • Fifth grade student: “As a student I recommend Benchmark because I think future 5th graders would rather learn the information that Benchmark provided than what Wit & Wisdom did. I not only prefer Benchmark because the information that we learned from it, but the format of the program. I liked the creative assignments, and the lessons didn't feel too long. I appreciate you dedicating your time, so many future 5th graders could have a positive learning experience.”  
  • Kindergarten student: “I like Benchmark because it is very cool and I love it because it’s very, very, VERY cool. And I love it.”  

Next steps include bringing this recommendation to the Instructional Materials Council and then to the ISD School Board for final approval. Pending approval, teachers would implement Benchmark Advance as the comprehensive literacy curriculum starting in the fall of 2024.  

Teachers and staff who helped evaluate elementary literacy curricula as part of a two-year process celebrate.

Teachers and staff who helped evaluate elementary literacy curricula as part of a two-year process celebrate with sparkling apple cider after making a unanimous decision to recommend "Benchmark Advance."

  • Academics
  • Elementary Education