ELLSWORTH -- With the advent of the new standards-based grading system implemented by the state, school officials have been in the process of reworking the English language arts program to better reflect those standards.

"Our current reading series has been discontinued, so we were really due for this," Ellsworth Elementary School Principal Mary Zimmerman told the School Board Monday night.

A committee was established last August to begin researching and reviewing potential new curriculum options, which were then given to all teachers during meetings throughout December.

"That was just an update to get everybody up to speed, where we were at," Zimmerman said. "And then last week we presented our final two choices to the whole staff 4K-fifth grade classroom teachers."

The two final options are called Into Reading and Fountas & Pinnell, which share similar aspects. Both have something teachers wanted called "authentic texts," which is a trade book where teachers are engaging students in conversation. Teachers also wanted guided reading for a small portion of the day.

"We wanted students to have real books. Not black-and-white books that are not motivating and not interesting to them," said District literacy specialist Karen Thoen. "So the guided reading component across the two programs is very similar in the texts that are used and designed."

"Guided reading is a strategy that really most of the programs that we found are having for the small group instruction," Thoen added. "And it is because you can meet a wider range of needs within your classroom."

Zimmerman took the opportunity to talk about how standards-based grading falls into the proposed curriculum.

"So even with parents coming to conferences, you'd be talking about the grade-level standard and how their child is progressing in that," she said. "You wouldn't be talking about your teaching manual, or you wouldn't be talking about Into Reading. You'd be telling them about the skill and the standard. ... There's probably some opportunity for some real flexibility for teachers to make sure they're using materials that best fit their teaching style."

Final staff recommendations will be given to the Ellsworth School Board during its March 2 meeting. View the slideshow given to the Ellsworth School Board at tinyurl.com/ul73cgl.