CCSD provides update on Read by Grade 3 program, literacy plan

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Carson City School District’s literacy plan to improve early reading interventions for kindergarteners through third graders is working well, but professional learning for teachers to keep fourth and fifth graders on track remains a point of development, administrators say.

Cheryl Macy, director of equity in curriculum and instruction, provided an update to the Board of Trustees in October on the educational requirements Nevada school districts are subject to since passage of Senate Bill 391 in 2015. Macy provided information on the district’s literacy plans for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

The Nevada “Read by Grade 3” plan for intervention was developed to improve literacy for students reading below grade level. It requires principals to designate learning strategists and train teachers in intervention techniques for reading. In 2015, according to the bill, students were prohibited from being promoted to the fourth grade if they didn’t achieve proficiency in reading, although certain students could be exempt if teachers so desired.

Funding for on-site literacy specialists had been provided by the Nevada Legislature. In 2019, Assembly Bill 289 broadened SB391 to include all elementary levels. Children not reading at grade level by the time they reached third grade needed reinforcement as they advanced to the fourth grade.

“Our coaches are high-quality education support staff,” Macy said in her presentation. “And (the legislators) removed the mandatory grade three retention (as of 2019).”

Superintendent Andrew Feuling called it a “long road” to funding for the local literacy plan, describing the on-again, off-again availability as the state moved to the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan.

“Statewide, there was about $50 million, and it was then cut in half and then put into the larger PCFP pot, so it’s not what it used to be,” he said.

Macy said it would be important to provide professional learning for teachers through curriculum and to help fill gaps where needed.

“We’re seeing children lack skills that were missed during instruction (through COVID),” Macy said in reference to fourth- and fifth-grade teachers. “That’s not necessarily their skill set they have honed over the years, so we are working on pulling some professional development to support their students.”

Strategies such as the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA) flow chart dyslexia screener and the district’s “Into Reading” program, which is CCSD’s English language arts resource for kindergarten to fifth grade classes, are site-driven and support student needs, Macy told the Appeal.

“Many of our teachers use the Heggerty resource, which provides evidenced-based interventions,” she added. “In addition, schools have scheduled time for differentiated instruction to target specific student needs.”

Asked whether certain data might indicate commonalities in reading among Carson City students on the state’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, used by the Nevada Department of Education to assess students in English and math in third to eighth grades, Macy said schools continually explore recent data to determine the best strategies in reading.

“We know COVID impacted student performance on the SBAC across the board,” she told the Appeal. “We are working to provide appropriate interventions to students who experienced learning delays. Schools are reviewing data to pinpoint factors that impacted student performance (such as chronic absenteeism). This information can help us identify strategies to allow us to respond appropriately.”

Trustee Mike Walker, representing District 5, told Macy at the end of her presentation he was concerned conducting assessments often takes away time from classroom instruction.

“I just worry how often are you talking? What’s that going to encompass?” Walker asked. “The more time you’re assessing, the less time you’re teaching. I think it’s a balancing act.”


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