"...here's something I'm curious about – textbooks and curriculum.
Our third-grade son has attended two different alternative elementary schools, and we have yet to see a single textbook. I assumed this was an alternative school thing, until I learned that one of our friend's daughters, a fourth-grader who has attended two traditional elementary schools in Seattle, also has never had a textbook.
I mention this because without textbooks, it's hard as a parent to tell what curriculum / approach is being used to teach reading, math, etc., and knowing how to best build on that approach at home. I remember as a kid finding textbooks to be helpful when reviewing concepts I'd previously studied, or to see where our class was going with our learning. When I've asked teachers about curriculum (both at my son's school and at prospective schools during tours) they most often seem to be piecing together a combination of curricula, or in some cases cannot clearly identify any curriculum they are using.
I heard from one of the district people that the new elementary math textbooks were made available for review at schools in March – our school never advertised this to parents, despite being a very active, parent-involved school (did the textbooks do the alt school tour as well?). Given that schools don't even use textbooks, I don't know how relevant they'll be anyway. The district person I mentioned this to seemed surprised to hear that elementary schools don't use textbooks.
As an alternative school parent, I'm somewhat leery of one common standardized curriculum for the entire district. On the other hand, if having clearly-defined curricula (and maybe even some textbooks/reference materials to look at) would add transparency and clarity, I'd be all for that.
...I'm curious to know if there are any elementary schools in Seattle that use textbooks, along with parents' thoughts about the current curricula. To pose a question to you that I was recently asked (and could not answer) – do you know what curriculum is being used to teach your child to read?"