Grand Forks School Board approves addition to English language arts curriculum

“Wit and Wisdom” program seeks to improve reading, writing proficiency for district’s sixth-grade students.

Grand Forks Public Schools

GRAND FORKS – The Grand Forks School Board on Monday approved the implementation of supplementary curriculum materials to the district’s sixth-grade English language arts curriculum.

The materials, provided by educational service “Wit and Wisdom,” will be implemented for a period of 10 years at a cost to the district of $320,046.69, or $54.99 per student annually. Following a trial period during which the district tested both Wit and Wisdom and other educational providers’ services, district officials expressed satisfaction with Wit and Wisdom’s results pertaining to student engagement.

“Wit and Wisdom is raising the bar for our students,” said Carla Haaven, curriculum technology partner for the district. “It is providing them with complex, grade-level texts, helping build background knowledge, vocabulary and skills needed to be deep readers. Wit and Wisdom is constructed to be cross-curricular, meaning it relates to other academic disciplines that students will encounter in the real world.”

Amy Bartsch, the district’s chief academic officer, said the curriculum model suits sixth-grade students well, given the transition these students face in their English education.

“Elementary school is more about learning to read, but middle school should encourage students to read to learn,” said Bartsch. “Our hope is that Wit and Wisdom helps address gaps in proficiency, and helps students develop habits that will serve them throughout their academic careers.”


Bartsch also said there is strong interest in using Wit and Wisdom’s services to supplement seventh- and eighth-grade English language arts curricula, pending pilot studies within those grade levels.

The board also approved a land swap agreement with the Grand Forks Parks Department, pending a successful Valley Middle School referendum. As the proposed site for a new Valley Middle School would encroach on land owned by the Parks Department, the board agreed to transfer an equally valued piece of land – 1.96 acres – to the parks department should the referendum succeed.

In other news from the board:

  • The board approved a request from Brandon Baumbach, the district’s business manager, to seek bids for fiber optic services. According to Baumbach, the district is required to advertise bids publicly when the cost of services to the district exceeds $50,000 annually.
  • The board approved two third-party requests for student information from the Community Violence Intervention Center, and the early warning intervention monitoring system. These two entities will track student attendance, behavioral and disciplinary data to aid in identifying students at risk for learning loss, according to Superintendent Terry Brenner.
Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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