In Worthington, over the past five or six years, we have been on a consistent journey to shift our practice in teaching students how to read. If you have students in our elementary schools, you likely have seen that difference firsthand. But if you don’t have students in the elementary school, it may not be on your radar screen.
Through better research and technological advances, we know now more than ever how children learn to read and what is happening when reading does not come easy for students. This heightened knowledge has resulted in Worthington schools quickly moving away from past curricular resources and programs that have been deemed ineffective in meeting the reading needs of our students. For example, last Fall, Worthington elementary schools discontinued the use of a program called Reading Recovery and significantly changed our literacy practices to align with instruction called structured literacy.
Structured literacy approaches emphasize highly explicit and systematic teaching of all components of literacy. These components include both foundational skills (e.g., reading decoding, spelling) and higher-level literacy skills (e.g., reading comprehension, written expression).
Our classroom teachers now use a structured literacy curriculum, and we continue to invest in these classroom resources and teacher training. Our elementary reading specialists are receiving training to become Certified Academic Language Practitioners (CALP) through the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). This training is a year long, requiring 55 classroom hours, 60 observed practicum hours working with our Worthington students, and an end of course exam. Both the Ohio Dyslexia Committee and the International Dyslexia Association have given this training an “Accreditation Plus” status (the highest rating available) and ensure each of our elementary schools meet the “gold” standard as outlined in Ohio’s Dyslexia Guidebook and the Ohio Department of Education.
To support teachers and students, Worthington has also instituted a robust, data based program called Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). MTSS supports our curriculum and ensures students screening, intervention and the formation of multi-disciplinary building teams designed to monitor and support student reading progress.
On December 6th, we held a Dyslexia parent evening at the Worthington Education Center which outlined many of the ways Worthington is making changes and supporting students, especially at-risk and dyslexic students. Mike McGovern, President of the Central Ohio Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and parent of a dyslexic student, was present to lend his support to the work we’re doing in Worthington. You can view that meeting here.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent