A New Vision for Literacy – Right Way for Reading

10Sep09

Dear Dr. Harris and Members of the School Board,

Too many elementary students in Durham Public Schools are not able to read and write at the levels they will need to do well in further schooling and after they leave school. Durham Public Schools has chosen to address this enormously important and very real issue through the mandated implementation of the Reading Street curriculum. A group of concerned parents has gathered to examine this effort. With the information we have from DPS and from our own research, we do not believe that this strategy will work and that it may actually exacerbate the problem.

Attached please find a document that presents questions and concerns we as parents have relative to the Fact Sheet DPS issued regarding the Reading Street Curriculum. While the document is fairly lengthy, I would like to call your attention to some specific questions and concerns in the document: (a sample is below but this can be edited to reflect personal concerns)

1. The Fact Sheet did not address issues associated with the roll-out of the program, including the late notice given to teachers who have spent the entire summer planning their activities for the year.

2. Research commissioned by Reading Street’s publisher found that students in Reading Street classes did worse than students in control classrooms not using Reading Street. In addition, the study also found that higher levels of implementation of Reading Street were associated with lower test scores across all grades examined. This indicates that implementation of Reading Street is likely not to have desired results.

3. The content of the Reading Street curriculum does not appear to reflect best practices in terms of grouping students or in terms of the literature included. In particular, the inclusion of portions of books, instead of full books, does little to promote the higher levels of understanding students need.

4. The grouping required in the curriculum does not meet the needs of the really struggling or the really advanced readers.

5. Implementing the reading framework as mandated does not allow time for instruction in social studies and science. The texts in the curriculum do not appear to allow for an integration of those topics as required by the North Carolina Standard Course of Study into the literacy block.

6. The use of coaches is a good idea; however, we would like more information about their responsibilities and also their training. If coaches are operating without sufficient training, they will end up only looking at the page of the curriculum the teachers are on.

7. We look forward to hearing DPS’s plans for assessing the implementation and impact of the program.

As a group, we recognize that there must be changes in our schools to ensure that all of our students can achieve at high levels of literacy. We look forward to engaging in a dialogue around ways that we can achieve that goal.

Sincerely,

DPS Parent Advocates for Literacy and Achievement for Every Child

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3 Responses to “A New Vision for Literacy – Right Way for Reading”

  1. 1 Hannah Demeritt

    I cannot seem to get to the attached document – where can I find that? Thanks!

    • 2 dpsparentadvocacy

      Hi, Hannah,
      Which document are you referring to? There will be a new post coming out soon -perhaps you are talking about the small committee’s alternative proposals to the mandate?
      Jen

  2. 3 Natalie Beyer

    For more information please join the yahoo group “concernedparentsdps”


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