Knowledge Matters School Tour Makes Third Visit to State to Celebrate Use of High-Quality Curricula
October 26, 2023 (Roswell, NM) — Today the Knowledge Matters School Tour visited classrooms; heard from educators, students, and parents; and celebrated high-quality literacy instruction in New Mexico elementary schools.
The two-day tour at Berrendo Elementary School in Roswell Independent School District, which uses the exemplary Core Knowledge Language Arts/Amplify (CKLA) curriculum, saw 1st grade students comparing features of Mesopetamian civilization with that of Ancient Egypt, using vocabulary words like advantage and enriched, and explaining why canals are needed to address flooding. In 4th grade, students wrote their own fables, using personification to give negative and positive qualities to their animal characters.
“Literacy research tells us that children are best equipped for reading success when they have a good body of knowledge about science, history, and the arts, to aid their reading comprehension,” said Barbara Davidson, president of the Knowledge Matters Campaign, which conducts the Knowledge Matters School Tour. “Yesterday 1st grader Mateo, literally gasped when he realized that both the Babylonians and ancient Egyptians built canals and why. That excitement is what happens when students get to learn deeply about real things.”
This literacy instruction builds off work across New Mexico school districts to ensure all students receive high quality literacy instruction. In School Year 2020-21, New Mexico launched Structured Literacy New Mexico, which screens all first graders for dyslexia, ensures LETRS training for PreK-5 teachers by 2026, and focuses on biliteracy and language for English Language Learners.
“I heard Roswell ISD teachers say repeatedly that the knowledge building curriculum makes them feel like professional teachers, equipped to serve all of their students,” said Jacqueline Costales, Division Direction of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at the New Mexico Public Education Department.
The tour also included:
- A student panel featuring elementary school students;
- A teacher panel featuring elementary school teachers across seven schools; and
- A roundtable discussion with leaders across Roswell ISD, the New Mexico Public Education Department, families, and members of the community.
“Before we had students who never saw grade-level rigor within the day. We had differentiated our way away from core instruction,” said Karla Stinehart, Director of Literacy, Arts, and Humanities at Roswell ISD. “Our work started with building a coalition of believers and then we could lean into their experiences to deliver on the teaching and learning we wanted to see.”
The Knowledge Matters School Tour previously visited Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools, in Rio Arriba County, and Rio Rancho Public Schools, north of Albuquerque, to celebrate the districts’ use of high-quality math curricula: Zearn Math and Eureka Math, respectively.
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.