Grandview Heights Middle School: A Case Study
Grandview Heights, a neighborhood school in the heart of Memphis, piloted the EL Education Grades 6–8 English Language Arts Curriculum for the district in 2016-17.
Based on their results, the district expanded implementation to include its other six middle schools and adopted the K–5 curriculum for all 80 elementary schools throughout the district.
Grandview Heights Middle School serves 446 students In grades 6-8
Language Arts Curriculum Implementation
To turn the school around and make growth sustainable over
time, district leaders moved quickly to acquire a literacy
curriculum that research shows works for all students.
During the pilot year, Grandview Heights teachers
initially received a two-day intensive introduction to
the EL Education Grades 6–8 English Language Arts
Curriculum from an EL Education coach. After that, building
instructional leaders and district coaches met monthly
with an EL Education coach to conduct learning walks
and investigate systems and structures needed to support
a new curriculum implementation.
“If a principal is considering the EL Education
Curriculum, I can say emphatically, YES, make this choice.
Football players lift weights to get ready for the game, even
though you don’t see them lifting weights on game day. EL
is lifting weights. If students are able to master the content
and tasks of this curriculum, then what they see on the
standardized tests will be easy.”
Grandview Heights instructional leaders, who were learning
the curriculum right alongside teachers, strengthened
schoolwide consistency through individualized coaching and
collective professional development. According to Barber,
teachers initially wanted to hang on to their grammar books
and readers. “This curriculum was harder,” he says, “but after
the first semester when interim assessment scores came back,
they were convinced of its value.”
In the first year after implementation of the EL Education
Grades 6–8 English Language Arts Curriculum, Grandview
Heights students showed the strongest growth in the district.
School leaders and teachers agree that three components of
the curriculum led to these results:
- Close reading of complex text with rigorous tasks is the daily fare of the new literacy instruction, replacing the grammar and skills instruction of times past.
- Differentiation and scaffolding are built into the lessons. “We don’t just do that for some students,” says Barber. “We do it for everyone. That’s what inclusion is.”
- A social-emotional curriculum is infused into the lessons, encouraging students to have robust and relevant conversations about books and life.
Performance as measured by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (note: no data available for 2016)
In order to sustain this high growth across all subgroups
over time, Barber and district leaders are investing in two
strategies. First, they have committed to supporting teachers
in every school across the district to master the art and
science of the EL Education curriculum. Second, they are
taking a “growth mindset approach” that includes leaders,
teachers, and students. Staying the course with a curriculum
that lifts everyone up to high expectations takes grit, but
persistence and consistency will move all students toward
proficiency in the long haul.
EL Education provides schools and districts with professional development, coaching, and resources to support two types of partnership:
- School network partners: Schools that implement EL Education’s full school design and its unique approach to curriculum, instruction, culture and character, assessment, and leadership.
- Literacy partners: Districts and schools that adopt EL Education’s K–8 Language Arts curriculum and work with EL Education to support its implementation and impact.
Download the PDF of the Grandview Heights Case Study here.