April 13, 2023
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine visited Stevenson Elementary to observe classroom activities, discuss how the district has aligned literacy instruction to the Science of Reading, and hear about the students’ experience.
The Governor visited Barb Jackson’s 4th grade ELA classroom where students were studying author’s craft and figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and idioms. He observed Intervention Specialist Stephanie Maddux’s 3rd grade group during a lesson on root words, prefixes, and suffixes. And last but not least, he visited Karen Day’s 5th grade ELA class to observe a vocabulary lesson on homonyms.
Immediately prior to the visit, Governor DeWine was in Marietta visiting another elementary school. Visits like these are just one activity that the Governor is undertaking to support literacy efforts in Ohio’s schools. Just a few weeks ago, Superintendent Thomas participated in an event called, "Literacy Matters: Shaping the Future for Ohio Students," which was hosted by Ohio Excels. Governor DeWine gave opening remarks and described the literacy initiatives that are included in his biennial budget. Superintendent Thomas alliterated the story of Heath’s transition to structured literacy during his panel. It happened to be the same day that the Governor signed Executive Order 2023-07D, “a measure to create the Governor's Literacy Challenge to improve reading proficiency for all Ohio children.”
“We are grateful to Governor DeWine for his support of evidence-based teaching, and his belief that all students have a right to learn to read. The most important part of the literacy portion of his budget is the support he gives to teachers, so they can be trained and valued as professionals,” said Dr. Thomas. “We are fortunate to have the talent and dedication of our teachers and administrators who lead our literacy work. Assistant Superintendent Kelly Holbrook, Literacy Coordinator Blythe Wood, and our principals and teachers have worked extremely hard to transform our literacy curriculum, and we are still in the early stages of that work.”
For background, the Science of Reading is “research, over time, from multiple fields of study using methods that confirm and disconfirm theories on how children best learn to read….and is based on the five big ideas: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension (the ability to understand what you are reading.”[i]
Heath Schools has implemented the following programs and training for their literacy efforts:
- All current K-3 staff have completed 30 hours of training in the Science of Reading
- All K-12 Intervention Specialists have completed 30 hours of training in the Science of Reading
- Curriculum that spans the five big ideas of literacy including writing
- An assessment calendar and decision tree that aligns with Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement
- Refinement of the MTSS process to provide specific interventions based on students’ needs
With the alignment to the Science of Reading pedagogy, and the District’s complementary efforts, the results have been significant:
- 3rd-grade reading proficiency has increased by 8 percentage points since 2018
- 4th-grade reading proficiency has increased by 3 percentage points since 2018
- The current Kindergarten class is on target to have more than 80% of students on track to proficiency