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SAN TAN VALLEY — A partnership between Florence Unified School District and a nonprofit curriculum organization will be monitored and evaluated by Johns Hopkins University.

FUSD and Great Minds have entered into a five-year agreement that will provide all students in San Tan Heights K–8 School access to Great Minds curriculum and aligned teacher professional development. This collaboration, approved by the district’s Governing Board in April, will start in the 2021–22 school year.

Under the agreement, San Tan Heights K–8 will receive Great Minds PBC’s curricula — Eureka Math, Wit & Wisdom, PhD Science and Geodes books for early readers — along with extensive professional development and on-site coaching. Great Minds will also consult with the school on the purchase and implementation of high-quality curriculum for other subjects, such as in social studies.

A research partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy will provide an independent third-party evaluation of the project’s impact over time on a range of outcomes, from student achievement to school climate and culture.

“Having used Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom already, we have seen the power of daily learning materials that are both rigorous and engaging,” said FUSD Superintendent Chris Knutsen in a press release.

While retaining existing positions and roles at the school, the Great Minds team will work closely with the principal as well as school and district leaders to implement the program.

“We know that having quality materials is necessary but not sufficient for student learning to thrive. We look forward to working closely with teachers, parents, and school and district leaders to implement these curricula well,” said Great Minds founder and CEO Lynne Munson.

The project will also encourage strong involvement by parents and guardians. Events and activities such as math nights, science fairs, home supports for families and book giveaways to younger siblings will bolster the joy of learning for everyone. The project planners welcome ideas from the community to further the important goal of increased parental involvement in educational outcomes.

“Our goal is to make San Tan Heights K–8 one of the finest institutions not just in this area, but nationally. Our staff is excited for the opportunity to be the first Great Minds School,” said Henry Saylor-Scheetz, the school’s principal.

The school will continue to receive the usual per pupil funding from state and local sources. Great Minds will cover the difference between current funding levels and additional expenditures necessary for successful implementation of the curricula and professional development.

“We are looking to empower teachers through access to high-quality curriculum materials and commitment to ongoing professional development,” said Steven Shadel, director of Great Minds Schools.

San Tan Heights is a K–8 school serving 681 students. The school adopted Eureka Math four years ago and is in its first year of implementing Wit & Wisdom for students in kindergarten through grade five.

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