Pearson’s ReadyGEN: May the Farce NOT be with you

Are there any NYC elementary schools NOT using ReadyGEN’s ELA Common Core curriculum?

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Yasmeen Khan, education reporter for WNYC and SchoolBook.org, recently informed me that 86% of New York City public schools (grades K-8) have adopted at least one of the NYC DOE’s “recommended” Core Curriculum programs.  As I mentioned in a previous post, due to budget cuts, high-stakes Common Core testing and pressure to align curriculum to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), NYC schools feel they have no choice but to use the official NYC DOE programs, which are subsidized.  NYC Core Curriculum programs include, but are not limited to, E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge, Expeditionary Learning and Pearson’s ReadyGEN.  

Over the summer, I reported that NYC elementary teachers are frustrated with NYC’s ReadyGEN ELA (English-language arts) program, which appears to be test prep -beginning in kindergarten – for Pearson’s Common Core state tests.  They complain that it is scripted, developmentally inappropriate and inflexible.  Teachers are also critical of how ReadyGEN is being developed.  They feel that Pearson, in collaboration with the NYC DOE, is making it up as they go along, creating and distributing units in piecemeal fashion.  At present, NYC teachers have only photocopies of the teacher’s guide for the first part of unit one in addition to the corresponding unit one online materials.

In what can only be described as a farce, yesterday, during the Chancellor’s mandated professional development day, we were told that the truck carrying our long-awaited ReadyGEN student books showed up at our school late on Tuesday.  However, (and there’s always a however or but), we are not in possession of the books.  The driver, apparently not wanting to wait while a staff member searched for bodies to help him unload the truck, drove off with our 300 boxes of books.  They are nowhere to be found.

We aren’t the only ones disenchanted with this new ELA CCSS program. On September 3, 2013, NYC teacher Beth Kleinman Sullivan wrote the following about ReadyGEN:

“NYC teachers were told today that we have to work with ReadyGen for literacy. Barring the fact that it’s not even ready yet, and we’re working with drafts, we found out it’s put out by Pearson. Pearson’s stranglehold now extends to all grades in pretty much all schools in NYC. They have told schools to print out the texts we’re supposed to use because they’re not ready …for us, even though they’ve accepted everyone’s money. I believe this is called a monopoly. I also believe that we’re now officially teaching-to-the-test in all grades.  The program is soft scripted and has a teacher text and one for each kid (if we ever get the books). There is neither guided reading nor read alouds in this program.”

I would really like to know if any NYC public elementary schools are spared from having to use this new ELA curriculum.  If so, what are you using instead? How did you align your curriculum to the Common Core? Are you happy with your program? Why or why not? 

Thanks, Katie

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28 thoughts on “Pearson’s ReadyGEN: May the Farce NOT be with you

  1. Schools are not mandated to use any of the programs. Principals are supposed to be given the option of using these programs that the DOE posted on their website. However, principals are being pressured by the DOE and many administrators adopt the programs out of fear. It’s a form of McCarthyism.

      • Kate, none of the schools that I work in are using ReadyGEN. One school is using the TC model (not with a TC staff developer) in the early grades. Grades 3 -5 will be using Expeditionary Learning.
        Another school is using LitLife (I think that’s what it’s called).
        The third school uses some program called Treasures which seems, to me, like an old fashioned basal program!
        I haven’t gone to the last school yet but I would doubt very highly that they are using ReadyGen. When I was last there (a few years ago) they used a combination of TC and Fountas and Pinnel.

  2. I have heard that most schools in NYC have purchased this program. In my school, we are supposed to keep using the workshop model in addition to this program, but use it for read alouds. Pearson now puts out tests, test materials, and the programs that schools use. How is this legal?

      • How can anyone believe that a single curriculum will work with all learners in a community as large as NYC? I tend to think that a little investigative work will reveal a link between policy-makers and those profiting from these kinds of “mandates” for curriculum.

  3. Pearson ReadyGen is not even available for schools in print and the units are not even done as we approach the opening of NYCDOE schools

  4. We don’t have any materials either, INCLUDING the titles we’re suppposed to be using as the read alouds, unless we happen to own the book. I actually have the first book in Unit 1, Module A but no student copies, which I feel is fine because they’re incoming first graders, mostly at Level C and couldn’t read it anyway! In our school, we are continuing to use the Fountas and Pinnell assessment 3x a year and create guided reading groups based on those results. The (Not Yet)ReadyGen titles will be read alouds and “close reading”. What bothers me is that I am being told that these pre-determined books are to be my read alouds, there is no personal choice and no substitutions allowed. I certainly hope I can find 10 minutes in the day to read something else that I actually choose and think the kids will enjoy- but it’s not looking good 😦

  5. Pingback: Many teachers still waiting on textbooks for new city curriculum | GothamSchools

  6. From Barbara Gilbert, retired NYC teacher: “So frightening…this comes from my old school! Make Way For The Ducklings is being used early on for 14 days to teach literacy and the children are expected to learn 58 vocabulary words from this and have endless time on the carpet to “learn”! Where is John Hopkins’s Success For All program when you need it….and believe me they need it! The poor teachers…the poor students . What happened to clear and realistic expectations…realistic…realistic!!! Oh the pity of it all. This is like the Emperor’s New Clothes curriculum…more people must decry this!”

  7. It may not be ‘require’, but as you mention Katie, many school facing Budget cuts are really given no other viable option. If 86% of schools are using ReadyGEN, I’m guessing the number greatly increases among schools in high poverty neighborhoods. So even if a school is not using ReadyGEN, we have to look at where that school is located and the children it is serving. Giving low income schools very little wiggle room and forcing a cookie cutter curriculum upon us will create a generation that lacks individuality and further deepen the achievement gap. The real question is, are there any high needs schools out there not using ReadyGEN? I am guessing not many.

  8. Question is they will report on this, but no one will do anything, how contacting Attorney General. This is a misuse of funds by DOE. now it’s time to pressure our elected officials.

  9. My school is scheduled to use ReadyGEN this year. It hasn’t arrived. Are there any heads rolling at Pearson? This is an enormous fail. How many millions of dollars is Pearson collecting for a job they have clearly botched?

  10. Pingback: Danielson 4a: Reflecting on Teaching ReadyGEN | Critical Classrooms, Critical Kids

  11. This is capitalism at its best. Pearson is the Trojan Horse along with other corporations making profits on public education and poor school districts.Poor districts are more dependent on state aid. Poor rural schools in Upstate NY are hurting in meeting the demands of costly state mandates. Where is the outcry from parents? Wealthy school districts and wealthy private schools are not subjected to this incompetence and ineptness from Gov. Cuomo, Pearson, DOE and NYSED. All of this is unfair, unequal, and economically discriminatory particularly for high poverty schools with a large number of minoritystu

  12. Still waiting for phonics, spelling, grammar books so kids can practice these skills so they can decode Stellaluna for text complexity…

  13. I started using it last week. I teach K in Brooklyn. Its horrible. Ive been teaching for 15 years and I can not figure out how to teach this… Ive read it over and over, it just does not make any sense. Im not teaching any skill, theres no mini lesson, and Im having my “formal observation on it in 2 weeks!!!

  14. I wouldn’t experiment like this on a lab animal- why is the DOE allowing this to be done to its students? My first issue: Did Pearson ever clock these lessons with kids? It takes hours to do the program as written, so in PD they tell you all the parts to skip or shortcut. Second: Pointing to or discussing what the author did is not the same as modeling in writing, at least not to 4th and 5th graders. Oh, did anyone notice that the reading worktime activities do not necessarily match the teaching points? So now I’m rewriting lessons (from the online manual since we still don’t have teacher guides) so that they’ll bear some semblance to best practices. This program is blatantly test prep oriented. If you have kids who struggle with reading, they’re not going to learn anything here. In its defense, Pearson did not claim that this program would work for kids who need interventions, and told us at training that we should run this alongside interventions. WHEN? It takes us two days to teach one lesson- that’s because we refuse to allow ReadyGen to take over the entire school day. I now officially hate teaching.

  15. The whole roll out of the Common Core was backwards. First the CCSS and CCLS should have been written. Then publishers should have put together their materials in printed versions and submitted them to the Federal Government and the State Government. Upon approval from these government entities, then school districts should have chosen materials. We are using flawed materials and ironically expect our students scores to go up. As teachers we have the power to write lesson plans that will work, even if Pearson gets paid for this junk.

  16. I agree with everyone! I hate this program, I hate what they are doing to the kids. I think they want the kids to fail, so we look bad and they can play blame-the-teacher. I’ve taught for eight years and I think it’s time to throw in the towel.

  17. Hi Katie, I’m wondering how things are going now (in May)? ReadyGen is almost ready for national roll-out. I’m in Washington (State) and our district is considering piloting it next year. I’ve heard that the national program will be a bit different from yours in NY, but I’m still curious how it is going. Thanks!

  18. I am a Sing, Spell, Read & Write fan. I use it in my classroom because the administration puts up with me. Oh and I also have kids reading, writing and spelling on a 1st and 2nd grade level in my kindergarten class. Unfortunately I just heard that we will probably be forced to use ReadyGen, which will shake up our school as the other teachers are using Storytown. Oh happy day. 🙂

  19. Ok NY teachers, I am a NM teacher serving on the textbook adoption committee. Our three choices are Ready Gen, Journeys and Wonders-McGraw Hill. Ready Gen is so different from any other reading program I have worked with (25years). Wonders has sooo much it is confusing. And I have not looked closely at Journeys. I understand we need the rigor, but I don’t want to be teaching to the test. After working with Ready Gen for a year now, what are your thoughts? I would love to hear from others that use Journeys and Wonders. Wonders has great education gurus as their authors, such as Tim Shanahan and Douglas Frey. Comments?

    • ReadyGen is awful. And they are changing many of the texts for next year. I thought TC was my worst teaching, but this is! It does not suit our NYC students as the lexile levels are above them. Who would ask a third grader to understand a book at level 1050 even if the teacher is reading to them? The units do not progress from easy to hard. The workbook/journal is garbage. It does one sentence for teaching grammar…who can learn that way?

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