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Council Approves Cambridge Public School Budget, Including $1 Million For Standardized English Curriculum

Councilors sit during a March Cambridge City Council meeting. The Council voted unanimously to approve Cambridge Public Schools' $268 million budget for fiscal year 2025.
Councilors sit during a March Cambridge City Council meeting. The Council voted unanimously to approve Cambridge Public Schools' $268 million budget for fiscal year 2025. By Marina Qu
By Darcy G Lin and Emily T. Schwartz, Crimson Staff Writers

The Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to approve Cambridge Public Schools’ $268 million budget for fiscal year 2025, including $1 million to implement a new aligned English Language Arts curriculum across all elementary schools next fall.

The move is an effort to address racial disparities in ELA outcomes, which have persisted in Cambridge for years.

Only 36 percent of Black CPS third-graders met or exceeded expectations on the English Language Arts component of the 2023 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test. Their white peers scored 43 percentage points higher, on average, on the same portion of the test.

“This investment marks a critical step towards closing the persistent gaps in reading outcomes that exist between student demographic groups,” according to a Monday CPS press release.

According to the press release, CPS chose Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts (2nd Edition) as the new ELA curriculum after a “thorough selection process involving a cross-section of educators, instructional coaches, administrators and interdisciplinary leaders.”

Amplify CKLA will — for the first time in CPS history — align curriculum for grades one through five for all 12 CPS elementary schools. The curriculum incorporates “science of reading” research, which emphasizes five key components of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

The ELA curriculum follows a shift to provide more standard curricula across the district.

Last May, CPS implemented Illustrative Math, a standard math curriculum, across grades K-12, and last September, the district standardized Algebra 1 curricula across the district’s middle schools.

CPS will also extend the school day by 30 minutes across elementary and middle schools, in an initiative titled “More Minutes for the Mind,” following negotiations with the Cambridge Educators Association that were ratified last December.

Prior to the curriculum’s September launch, CPS’ ELA Department will work alongside educators to align the Amplify CKLA curriculum with CPS standards for “instructional minutes, program models, and expectations for culturally and linguistically sustaining instruction,” CPS Director of ELA/Literacy Emily Bryan said in the press release.

—Staff writer Darcy G Lin can be reached at darcy.lin@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Emily T. Schwartz can be reached at emily.schwartz@thecrimson.com.

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