LCSD & The Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant
LCSD began the exciting work of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant on October 1, 2021. The efforts that led to us being awarded this grant started months before.
Rewind to December 2020 and you would see our leadership team discussing ways that we could positively impact student achievement. The leaders recognized that by improving our literacy instruction our students would have an improved experience overall.
These discussions led to a few changes. First, one of the most important changes made was the addition of Literacy Specialists at both LCES and LCIS, where the foundations of reading are laid. As a teacher, the reading specialist is responsible for providing direct instruction to students, individually or in small groups, to enable students to develop literacy skills. As a literacy leader, the position is responsible for implementing a comprehensive literacy program at the assigned school through coaching, supporting, and guiding teachers in best practices for literacy instruction grades K-4. Adding these positions show the steadfast commitment of the district to our students. Second, the discussions also led to the formation of the Literacy Leadership Team, a team that would audit the current literacy curriculum and instructional practices and make recommendations to the School Board and Superintendent.
As the Literacy Leadership Team began their audit process, we became aware of the opportunity to apply for the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant. The Collaborative Director began meeting with school level leadership teams to discuss the potential impact of the grant and what potential grant objectives would be. It was decided that LCSD would submit for the grant. The Collaborative Director and Superintendent worked together, using the information from the school level leadership teams, to complete the application process. LCSD was selected as one of ten Colorado schools to be the recipient of the federal funds. We were awarded $835,939 for Year 1.
The funds from this grant focus on:
- Complete literacy audit of our Preschool-12th grade literacy curriculum, practices, and programs
- Professional development on the Science of Reading
- Professional development on language acquisition
- Parent and Community Literacy Nights
- Literacy supplies and staff training for the Mobile Learning Center and Project Dream
- New literacy curriculum, as recommended by literacy audit
- Literacy consultant to advise us on improving literacy practices
One of the first things that LCSD needed to accomplish to move forward was to select a literacy consultant to help lead this work. The Collaborative Director and Superintendent interviewed multiple companies that have experience in this field in Colorado schools. After many interviews, LCSD selected Sterling Literacy, based out of Denver, Colorado to become an integral part of our team.
Once Sterling Literacy was selected, we immediately jumped into the work of finishing the audit of our literacy programs and practices. The Literacy Leadership Team went through professional development to better prepare them for this audit and to ensure that the team thoroughly understood the research surrounding how children learn to read. After completing the audit for preschool-12th grade, the Literacy Leadership Team presented their findings to the School Board and Superintendent. The team recommended LCSD begin looking into other literacy curriculum to compare to the current curriculum. The thorough examination of the current curriculum in comparison to four other CDE approved curricula, resulted in a recommendation to the School Board and Superintendent that LCSD adopt CKLA/Amplify for our preschool-8th grade literacy program. This new curriculum was implemented at the beginning of this school year for grades PreK-8th. We are working on finalizing our curriculum choice for 9th-12th grade.
While the Literacy Leadership Team focused on the audit, teachers and school leaders dove head on into professional development and coaching surrounding the science of reading and language acquisition strategies. Many teachers began to see the immediate effects of these sessions and saw students grow in their understanding. The tremendous efforts of the teachers, students, and leaders at each school continued throughout the remainder of the year and have begun again this year. Here is what our staff is saying about the new curriculum:
- “I have felt like a much more complete teacher this year. The curriculum allows me to put strong grade-level reading and comprehension skills in front of students, and it has given students many opportunities to discuss their work. They also can zoom in on important areas of the text. I am also able to track which of my students are completing their reading homework. Finally, there are really engaging writing prompts that are encouraging students to add interesting details and powerful text support to their analysis of texts and stories from their lives. It has super-charged my teaching.” Jeff Sailor, 7th Grade ELA
- “I have noticed that my kids this year are blending sounds much earlier than last year. The CKLA Skills curriculum is teaching tools that I’ve seen my kids using when I’m progress monitoring. It’s awesome to see so much reading success so early in kindergarten! “ Elizabeth Saunders, Kindergarten
In February 2022, we began hosting parent/community literacy nights. The first night focused on early childhood literacy( birth to 5 years old). LCSD proudly worked alongside Lake County Build a Generation and Sterling Literacy to ensure that the night was as informative and successful as possible. If you missed the early childhood parent night last year, don’t fret, we are partnering with Bright Start Early Learning Center to host another early childhood literacy night on October 25th. We were later able to host our “Joy of Reading” night at Lake County Elementary School where principal, Katie Pongrekun, took the lead and organized a fantastic event! The event went so well that we are planning to make this an annual occurrence! If you missed it last year, please join us on March 2, 2023 for this year’s event! We are sure it will be even better than it was last year! We will be communicating all future events through multiple channels: letters home, family connectors, LCSD website, and through community partners.
This grant also gave us an opportunity to provide the Mobile Learning Center and Project Dream with literacy supplies. LCSD purchased books for all ages of students and in a variety of languages. We also made sure to send some literacy games to continue to grow our students’ love of reading.
We are eager to enter Year 2 of this grant! This work is the right work and is directly impacting students’ achievement. Thank you for all you do for our students! We are proud to have you as an integral partner in this work.
Lake County School District