David Ulrich: Reading scores on the rise in Moffat County School District
In August, I indicated that this school year marks the beginning of our “I Choose Moffat County School District” efforts. At that time, I committed to assuring the Moffat County School District and our community that I would consistently highlight the great things happening in our schools. In that spirit, I am happy to announce that the district’s focus on elementary literacy continues to see results!
As a reminder, throughout the 2016-17 school year, elementary teachers, instructional coaches, and literacy coordinators participated in training on effective reading practices. Their work culminated in the adoption of a new evidence-based reading resource.
Even more exciting, in May of the same year, we learned that MCSD was awarded an Early Literacy Grant from the Colorado Department of Education. Over three years, the grant will provide nearly $1 million to support reading.
The 2018-19 school year is the second year of the grant covering the cost of the Wonders reading resource for kindergarten through third grade. The grant continues to provide consistent, job-embedded, professional development and provides two full-time literacy coaches. To ensure continuity in instruction, district funds were used to purchase the fourth- and fifth-grade resources.
The new materials have provided all elementary students with extensive opportunities to work with and meet grade-level standards in reading. Resources include interventions for struggling readers, as well as advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level. After only one year of implementation, MCSD saw reading scores improve for elementary students across the district.
To continue to receive ELG funds from CDE, school districts must meet at least one of three goals, and for the 2017-18 school year, MCSD met all three! The goals included making above to well above average progress moving students out of the lowest benchmark level, making above to well above average progress moving students into the Benchmark level, and moving at least 50 percent of students scoring below Benchmark up at least one level.
I am excited to let our community know that the second year of our teachers working with this resource continues to pay dividends in the form of increased performance in reading.
At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, our elementary schools had 35 percent of kindergarten through third-grade students scoring in the well below Benchmark category. To achieve the first goal for this school year, we need to reduce the number of students in this category to 22 percent or lower by the end of the school year. Due to the hard work of our teachers and other building staff, MCSD has seen has seen a decrease in the percentage of students scoring in that category to 22 percent. In other words, MCSD has already met this goal!
For goal two, MCSD elementary students must make above to well-above average progress moving into the benchmark category. At the beginning of the year, MCSD had 53 percent of kindergarten through third-grade students scoring in the Benchmark category. To reach this goal, we needed to increase the number of students in this category to 64 percent or more by the end of the year. At the middle of the year, the district had increased the percentage of students scoring in the Benchmark category to 66 percent. Again, MCSD had already met the yearlong goal by February!
The final goal is to move 50 percent of students scoring below benchmark up at least one performance category. At the beginning of this school year, MCSD had 215 kindergarten through third-grade students scoring in the well below Benchmark category and 76 kindergarten through third-grade students scoring in the below Benchmark category. To meet this goal, we need to bring at least 146 students up at least one category. At the middle of the year, we already have 135 students who have moved up at least one category. Though we have not yet reached the year-end goal, we are more than 90 percent there, and it is still only February.
According to a survey conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child’s third-grade reading proficiency is an indicator of future achievement. Ultimately, there is a student at the end of every one these scores. It is hard work to teach reading well, and our teachers are doing it. It truly is a great time to Choose Moffat County School District!
David Ulrich is superintendent of Moffat County School District.