There was a running joke in Lanz Kristian Cordovilla’s class. Students were calling SpringBoard — GUSD’s new English / language arts curriculum — Springbored because they feared they would be encountering a similar book year after year with the same content every time.
SpringBoard is an instructional college readiness program for all students, grades 6 to 12. It was developed by the College Board, and according to SpringBoard themselves, is made by teachers for teachers.
The program offers materials in print and digital, Advanced Placement (AP) coursework and the SAT Suite of Assessments. It also mainly focuses on two subjects: English Language Arts (ELA) and math. Glendale Unified School District introduced SpringBoard to aid the learning curriculum for students and teachers alike.
Cordovilla is one of the sophomores in the Davis’s Humanities class, being one of the many students taught using SpringBoard’s newest ELA textbook. He said that the textbook focuses on readings regarding cultural identity, and that each story he’s read so far shares a theme of having trouble adjusting to a certain culture. Cordovilla, however, doesn’t feel too engaged or interested in the textbook so far and doesn’t see it helping his English improve.
Cordovilla said he feels that the book is just there to read and analyze as common schoolwork, but said that “the book itself is boring, basically doing all the worksheets and stuff,” However, he said, “Reading the stories is actually interesting.”
Apart from college readiness, its intentions are to improve instruction quality and achievement standards across many schools and districts with the use of tools and personalized resources, made to suit both the teacher and the student.
Jennifer Davis, a Humanities teacher at Clark, was a representative for her school on the GUSD committee that ultimately adopted SpringBoard. “We have these matrices of state guidelines that all textbooks are supposed to follow, so we evaluated a variety of textbooks from different publishers… and SpringBoard just ended up getting the most votes,” she said.
Davis expressed many concerns about the implementation of the new program, including such as kids devaluing or losing books, and the reluctance of English teachers adjusting to the new contrast from their own conventional type of teaching, stating that there may be people who want to “hang onto their old ways.”
“I welcomed it because I liked the fact that instead of having to figure out how to apply the standards I’m supposed to teach to all the things I do, it’s already there, so that work is taken out of the picture.” Davis said.
Conrad Pruitt, an English teacher at Clark, is starting to implement SpringBoard into his classes. He utilizes the online tests, believing that they could be effective to prepare students for the Smarter Balanced Test, and plans on using the textbook material in the near future. Pruitt, however, has an opposing, yet optimistic view towards the program.
“I prefer our older curriculum, but I’m open to trying this new one. So far I think some of it will be beneficial to students,” Pruitt said. He says the curriculum is “a little different to how I like to do things” but is open to the change, believing that the supplementation of novels and other kinds of readings could prove useful for him and his students in the future.
Not only do the reaction of teachers play a part in the implementation of SpringBoard, but the reactions of students are just as, if not more, an important role in the success of the program.
The SpringBoard program is a new step in Clark’s teaching curriculum, and while the initial feedback may not be overwhelmingly positive, it may take a while for both students and teachers to grow accustomed to this new way of learning.
“If your teacher’s excited about the material — regardless of what it is — it’s gonna resonate with students. And if your teacher really dislikes the material and hates it, that’s gonna carry over,” Davis said.