The review process guides ELA teachers in selecting Middle and High School literature.
At last night's Board of Education meeting, Assistant Director of Secondary Curriculum Dr. Kristin Bourdage revisited Olentangy’s Literature Review Process. [See minute 28:32 of the board meeting recording.] The process guides teachers in selecting literature to keep Olentangy’s curriculum updated to support student engagement with reading and literature, while maintaining open, transparent communication with families. It begins when a teacher selects a text and completes a two-page form to outline how the text meets Ohio Department of Education (ODE) standards and the rationale for the text selection. The English Language Arts (ELA) department chair, a building administrator, and a district administrator each review and approve or deny the form. After the literature selection is approved, the teacher communicates the literature titles with the supporting forms to families, and the forms are posted to the Literature Review web page of the district website. Families then have the opportunity to review the form and opt into alternative text titles for their child.
Several complementary factors, perspectives and sets of requirements drive the literature selection process for the purpose of maximizing student learning. ODE provides 10 literature standards and 10 additional reading standards, and Olentangy Schools Board of Education Policy 2520.01 on Literature Selection states that courses may at times address topics that some parents find objectionable, so parents must always be informed and have the opportunity to object on religious or moral grounds. Educators must honor parental rights when it comes to the literature their students are asked to read.
In revising Olentangy’s literature review process, Dr. Bourdage assembled a committee that met three times to draft a 6-page guidance document, and gathered feedback from ELA departments, the district curriculum department, and principals. Their work resulted in a new form that includes a summary of the text, related standards and rationale, potentially objectionable content, book reviews and alternative text titles. The new form improves guidance for teachers, providing examples of how to note the text’s potentially objectionable content, and outlining a clear timeline with each step of the process.
The literature review process will be applied to contemporary classics, contemporary young adult literature, literature for a whole class novel study, and small menus of “choice books” for book clubs and small group instruction.
Moving forward, this spring Dr. Bourdage will attend ELA department meetings with building principals to discuss and share ideas for completing literature selection forms and communicating with families. She will clarify the new process and provide examples of completed forms. Work will continue into the 2022-2023 school year to clarify the process and new form, give specific feedback to teachers on forms that need revised, and review any resubmissions. Dr. Bourdage asked that families trust that teachers have the best interest of children at the center of literature selection and instruction, understand the revised selection process, and ask clarifying questions. Teachers will continue to choose new literature titles to refresh curriculum, complete the literature review forms with details, communicate with families utilizing the literature forms, and respect different values and viewpoints by offering alternative text titles that reflect a wide range of values.