Knowledge Matters School Tour Visits with Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Superintendent at Aldine ISD and contributor to the Knowledge Matters Podcast
December 11, 2023 (Houston, TX) — Earlier this month, the Knowledge Matters School Tour visited classrooms; heard from educators, students, and parents; and celebrated high-quality literacy instruction in Aldine Independent School District.
The two-day visit to Reed Academy for Engineering in Aldine ISD, which uses the exemplary Core Knowledge Language Arts/Amplify (CKLA) curriculum, saw second grade students learning about the War of 1812; using vocabulary words like “blockade,” “treaty,” and “seize”; and understanding why waterways were so important to America’s success. In fifth grade, students were deeply engaged in mining their text for character traits of Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza, contrasting them with one another.
“Strong literacy instruction starts with learning about things, whether that’s seasons and weather in Kindergarten, American independence in first grade, or the War of 1812 in second grade. And it means that all students, regardless of background or language spoken at home, participate in the kind of reading, writing, oral language development, and vocabulary building that we see here in Aldine,” said Barbara Davidson, president of the Knowledge Matters Campaign, which sponsors the Knowledge Matters School Tour. “Aldine ISD is four years into using this great curriculum, and it was evident to us everywhere—in talking to students, teachers, and administrators—what a win it has been for this community.”
The visit to Aldine follows recent attention the district received when it was highlighted in the Knowledge Matters Podcast. In the podcast, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney, who also is a board member of the Knowledge Matters Campaign’s parent organization, reflects on why it was so important for the district to make the shift to a knowledge-building curriculum.
“When I started at Aldine ISD, we had a balanced literacy approach and too many students, and many of them Black and Latino students, never saw grade-level text until they sat down to take the state accountability test,” said Goffney. “Our students deserve to be challenged. And so we set on the course of making a big shift so that every student in our district learns from a knowledge-rich curriculum that focuses on vocabulary building, reading comprehension, and oral language.”
The Knowledge Matters School Tour, which was established in 2018, provides an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to share with other educators their learning journey to adopt knowledge-building curriculum and accelerate student learning.
The Knowledge Matters Campaign is a project of StandardsWork, a non-profit advocacy organization whose mission is to “find the good and praise it.” The campaign garners national awareness for the importance of building students’ background knowledge of the world through high-quality literacy instruction. To date, the Knowledge Matters School Tour has visited over 20 districts across the country whose implementation of high-quality, knowledge-building curricula is considered by the campaign to be praiseworthy.