Good afternoon and Happy Friday.
Today is Veterans Day. To all of you who currently serve, have served, or had loved ones who have served in our armed forces, Thank You!
For me, what’s special about Veterans Day as a national holiday, is that without the men and women it is meant to honor, the many freedoms we often take for granted may not be possible; including celebrating all the other holidays of the year.
I am thankful that this is one national holiday where schools do not have the day off, so the children can learn the importance of honoring our true heroes’ commitment and sacrifice.
At this past Thursday’s Meeting of the Board of Education, our curriculum director, Matt Ile gave another impressive presentation about our recently released District Report Card. Previous updates provided information on our “academic achievement” (3 stars), “progress” (5 stars) and “gap closing” (4 stars) ratings.
Last night he discussed our rating in “early literacy.” Earning 2 stars on this component, we did not meet the state expectation at our elementary school last year. As we continue to analyze the collected data used for this report card component, we don’t have to look much further than the recent pandemic to understand the devastating impact it had on the academic progress of our youngest learners.
These excuses aside, rest assured that our entire staff is working our plan to provide the best learning experiences for our elementary students moving forward. Mastery of these early literacy skills is the “lynch pin” that will have the greatest impact on the academic success of all our students, at every grade level. The urgency is real.
This year, under the direction of our SES principals and our literacy coaches, our teachers have more time in their day for focused literacy instruction. Blocks of time for intervention and enrichment that don’t interfere with the critically important classroom lessons are also scheduled every single day.
Our teachers have a renewed commitment to teaching reading based on the most current up-to-date “science of reading” strategies that includes highly engaging phonics instruction. Our goal is to give our students the skills necessary to decode unknown words and read fluently before they take these high stakes tests in third grade.
Parents, if you want to help us improve our early literacy report card score, we ask that you spend time reading with your children.
We spend so much time “reading” our phones, but our kids may not realize this is what we’re doing. Maybe we can engage with a good book instead so the children can see us engage with a book. When watching a movie, press pause and ask what might happen next in the story.
I heard once that turning on the “closed captioning” feature while watching TV is also a great way to expose children to written words and increase comprehension. Letting them share their stories and showing our excitement by asking good questions is another way to promote early literacy.
While we recognize that our early literacy report card score is not where we want it, working together to promote good reading habits can only help our children get the skills they need to thrive at the next level. We are committed to improving this area of our report card and appreciate all that you do to support us on this journey.
In closing, it is my hope that everyone has a safe and restful weekend. Believe it or not, the hectic holiday season is almost upon us and we will certainly be very busy over the coming weeks. Take care and Go Rockets!
R. Michael Daulbaugh