A statement from Stacey Wilson-Norman, assistant superintendent of elementary curriculum and instruction, appears below and beyond the jump. As promised in yesterday's story, we're providing their response in full.
A Q&A on the program provided by DPS and forwarded from school board member Kirsten Kainz is also available: Download Questions-Answers-DPS-Reading-Street
In 2008-09 Durham Public Schools brought in three national reading experts to conduct a literacy audit of programs and practices to provide guidance to us in improving student achievement in reading. The audit found issues in vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Following the audit, DPS principals formed a task force to review the audit findings and develop priorities for literacy. These steps were taken because reading data for our elementary schools clearly show that all students must be taught the state’s reading standards.
Principals identified needs for more time on task and improvements in classroom instruction in literacy.
In 2006, DPS adopted the Reading Street comprehensive reading instruction program during the five-year textbook adoption cycle. (Note: some have confused Reading Street with Reading First--Reading First is the federal program that is in four of our schools.)
Reading Street is not a scripted program. Although it provides daily, weekly and long-range plans, teachers have flexibility to use their expertise on delivering vocabulary, mini-lessons, guided reading and word work components. We believe that Reading Street provides a good solution to the problems identified by the audit and our principals.
Each day, there is a 30-minute block of time when teachers can choose books from outside resources to use with their students, including books purchased by parent groups and books in the Media Center. Teacher assistants will support teachers in their work just as they always have in small group and one-on-one sessions. Academic coaches in schools will also support teachers in their work, and Central Services staff members will work with principals to monitor instruction in schools--just as we do now.
Our goal with the reading program is to teach children how to read the first time so they can accelerate their skills rather than spend teacher and class time teaching and re-teaching. I would be happy to talk with any parent or teacher who has questions about literacy and the need in Durham Public Schools to ensure that every child can read at the highest level. Feel free to call me at 560-3730.