What Do I Know For Sure?

We need a consistent, coordinated K-6 reading program. That’s what headed us down the path of piloting four different series/approaches in our district this year. And that’s what we heard over and over again from our reading pilot teachers today. Our decision making group of eight invited our pilot teachers to talk about what they absolutely need us to know about the series they’re piloting.

We had a hefty agenda of questions to answer and intermittently, we had pilot teachers talking to us. They let us know what they like/dislike about their pilots, what’s working for their kids and what’s not working. Some told us what they liked about the other pilots. A few endorsed a program they’d used previously.

This decision making group has an onerous task ahead of us. We have compiled monthly feedback assessments from the pilot teachers, we’ve looked at the DIEBELS data from fall and winter assessments, we’ve brought in an Orton Gillingham expert to talk to us. I’ve visited pilot classrooms and observed teaching/learning.  We’ve consulted the research. We’ve listened to pilot teachers. And now we will develop a GCS K-6 consistent reading program.

Here’s what I know for certain. We will build a program based on what we know about the way children learn to read. We will build it with components that best prepare our students in reading and writing. We will have a planned, consistent K-6 program and we will require all teachers to teach the components of the program. We will deliver solid staff development, opportunities for coaching, and lots of support. We will go in as administrators and ensure that everyone is following the program, in the correct way. If we see the fidelity of the program compromised, we will bring in additional support.

I know for certain that every child who enters kindergarten through sixth grade in 2008 will have an articulated, consistent, coordinated reading program. I know for certain we will have stronger readers and more student success. I know we are actively engaged in the key effective practices that research has shown time and again to be present in successful schools. I know this emphasis on literacy is the key to it all.

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  1. Kim, we’re on a similar path. We are just over halfway through our first year using the same K – 8 program througout our division. We are beginning to gather the data and analyze so that we can make adjustments. As usual, we are going through a learning phase but we will continue to improve as we become better at using data to determine what we need to do. In our school we also have the “book in a bag” program which works wonderfully. We were using the Accelerated Reading program up until this year as another tool in accessing the reading of our students. We hope to have it back soon.

    Great to have you back writing again!

  2. Kim,
    We have taken a similar path in our district. We have made literacy the number one priority with the five following main focal points:
    1. We hired a full time literacy coach for each school. This teacher is more than a reading specialist. The literacy coaches work very closely with teachers. They model lessons, assist with assessments and data, and purchase literacy materials for remediation and enrichment.
    2. We have purchased the Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment program, and teachers K-8 are required to assess their students minimally three times per year.
    3. The assessment data is used to group students by their instructional level, and the teachers are required to teach an hour of guided reading daily, in addition to another 30 minutes of whole class literacy instruction.
    4. We incorporated a “book in a bag” program for grades 1 & 2. Students take home books at their independent reading levels each night for practice.
    5. We have created a book room with multiple copies of fiction and nonfiction books that teachers can check out for guided reading groups. The nonfiction is tied into the science and social studies curricula.

    I think we are on the right path and I would recommend some or all of these for any district interested in improving student literacy achievement.

  3. So let me get this straight. You will finally have a comprehensive reading program in grades K-6 AND this week a decision was made to discontinue the mandatory summer reading program – making it optional for students. They won’t be assessed or held accountable. I was told the decision was made because students were failing the first quarter, they refused to do the assignment attached to the reading. You might be helping the smallest of our community but you’re giving up on the older students. Maybe your pose of administrators should ensure that EVERYONE is cared about, in the correct way.

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