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Bedford Central School District Board of Education Approves New Literacy Curriculum Aligned with the Science of Reading

BCSD letterhead

On May 8, 2024, Bedford Central School District took a big step toward its goal of adopting a new literacy program aligned with the science of reading. The Board of Education approved the administration’s recommendation to adopt Bookworms Reading & Writing for Bedford Hills Elementary School, Bedford Village Elementary School, Pound Ridge Elementary School and West Patent Elementary School, and American Reading Company (ARC) Core for dual-language bilingual education at Mount Kisco Elementary School. 

The approval followed a lengthy process of in-depth analysis and evaluation of curriculum materials. The work of a district-wide literacy committee, collaboration with a team of distinguished literacy experts, feedback from listening tours, focus groups, consultation with local and regional school districts, vendor visits, and analysis of curriculum adopted by states around the country have led us to this pivotal moment.

Dr. Molly Ness, a nationally recognized literacy researcher, writer, educator and speaker, worked closely with the district as it selected a new literacy curriculum. In her work with BCSD, Dr. Ness has identified areas of need, established research-supported instructional priorities, and provided evaluative resources for the selection of materials. Throughout this process and with the help of Dr. Ness, BCSD has left no stone unturned.

“Districts all over the country are grappling with how to ensure their literacy instruction is aligned with the science of reading, a longstanding body of research highlighting how children both lift words off the page and understand their meaning,” Dr. Ness said. “BCSD — like many districts — feels a sense of urgency to ensure that all children learn to read with high-quality instructional materials. And, like many districts, BCSD understands that impacting students' literacy is more than just new curriculum or programs, but also entails long-term professional development and buy-in from many players."

Amy Fishkin, BCSD’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, agreed with Dr. Ness, adding, “Learning to read is a complex process that requires many interconnected skills working in concert with one another. Professional development in the teaching of reading and writing provides our students with consistent and coherent instructional alignment, as well as the dexterity of teachers to respond to the unique needs of students in front of them. The gift of literacy is a human right that must be at the forefront of all educators’ minds."

Both Fishkin and Dr. Ness stressed that in order to be effective, the shift to a new literacy curriculum takes time. “Community members should understand that this process will take time — time for teachers to adjust to and learn new materials, time for systems and structures to be put in place, and time for data to reflect changes,” Dr. Ness said. “As a nation, we are often impatient when it comes to wanting change; we have to recognize that this is a marathon and not a sprint.”

After extensive research, studying the data and listening to the community’s thoughts, BCSD is thrilled to move forward to implementing this new curriculum in the fall and is confident that it will lead to outstanding results. With this new literacy curriculum, BCSD has positioned itself as a leader in literacy in the region and doubled down on its goal to improve student outcomes in reading and writing.

For more detailed information, including a slide presentation and letter from Dr. Ness, please see the Board of Education Agenda section of our website and the BCSD Literacy Recommendation Presentation.