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A 'Treasure' for Dedham Students: School Committee OKs Literacy Program

School officials hope to the have the materials in place for the start of the 2011 school year.

The Dedham School Committee approved Wednesday a new literacy curriculum for first and second grades throughout the district, and school officials say it will help boost MCAS scores down the road.

Treasures, a research-based McMillan/McGraw-Hill program, combines reading, spelling, phonics and writing into the curriculum. 

"[We're] hoping it improves MCAS," said Cynthia Kelly, assistant superintendent of curriculum. 

Dedham will pay $38,000 for the program over two fiscal years, Kelly said. The school hopes to receive outside funding for the third grade to receive the same curriculum in September. 2012, and fourth and fifth graders to receive it beginning in September 2013.

“It looks like a fabulous program. I have to say I'm excited about it,” said Dedham School Committee member Mayanne Briggs. “It's very comprehensive.”

A committee of more than 20 teachers, school principals and administrators whittled down finalists to just two, and invited representatives from both groups in to hear more and get a price quote. Briggs said the committee began the work in February.

The school department budgeted $56,000 for district-wide curriculum in fiscal year 2012.

The school committee and Kelly hope that materials will arrive in teachers' hands in August, and they'll be ready to teach the new material when students start in September.

Treasures replaces Literacy Place, which had a copyright of 2001 and didn't have an updated version, Kelly said.

"So that was not a consideration," she said.

McGraw-Hill also makes Everyday Math, which is the math curriculum students through grade five are using in the Dedham schools.

"The set-up for the teachers is the same," Kelly said.

The curriculum includes assessment, instructional and differential pieces, Kelly said.

Treasures comes with a vast library of online reading material - more than 7,000 books - and resources for teachers, Kelly said, but added the hands-on materials is what makes the program.

"[We] strongly believe students need to be holding books in their hands when they're learning," Kelly said.

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