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As an administrator with a front-row seat to the transformational impact of the Science of Reading and Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) professional development in North Carolina, I have witnessed a remarkable shift in literacy achievement not only within my building, but also within our district and across our state.
It is a story of determination, innovation, and the unwavering commitment to ensure that every child in North Carolina receives the high-quality education they deserve by equipping our teachers with the right essentials for the task.
I would like to share my perspective on the profound positive implications of these initiatives, not just from an administrative standpoint but also from the viewpoint of a third grade parent in the 2022-23 school year whose child’s literacy journey has been truly transformative.
As a principal
The Science of Reading and LETRS professional development programs represent a monumental leap forward in our efforts to improve literacy outcomes in North Carolina. These evidence-based approaches have illuminated the path to effective literacy instruction, equipping educators with the tools they need to guide our students toward success. I applaud the visionary leaders who recognized the urgency of this need and made the decision to implement these strategies statewide, ensuring that every teacher and student has access to the best practices in literacy instruction.
From the administrative perspective, the impact of Science of Reading and LETRS on instructional practices has been nothing short of astounding. Teachers are now armed with a deeper understanding of how children learn to read and write, and they have the knowledge and skills to provide targeted, effective instruction. The shift toward systematic phonics, phonemic awareness, and explicit instruction has been transformative. Our educators have embraced these methodologies, and it shows in the classroom. We are seeing improved fluency, comprehension, and overall literacy skills among our students.
As a parent
However, the most heartwarming and convincing testament to the effectiveness of these programs comes from parents like me, whose children have faced literacy challenges. My child was led by amazing classroom educators but struggled with reading from kindergarten through second grade, compounded by the difficulties posed by school closures and remote learning during the pandemic. It was a challenging journey for both of us, marked by frustration and the uncertainty of how to close his achievement gap to make grade level gains.
But in the 2022-23 school year, something changed. I believe the difference is that my son once again had an amazing educator, but this time, that educator had undergone the LETRS professional development and was armed with the tools and strategies to provide the kind of focused, effective Tier 1 instruction that my child needed. I watched as my child’s confidence grew, as the frustration of struggling in previous years gave way to excitement about reading. By the end of the school year, my child had not only caught up to grade level expectations but had surpassed them, even passing the North Carolina End-of-Grade (EOG) assessment for third grade. The transformation was nothing short of miraculous.
I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the dedication of our educators and the support of our state’s leaders who recognized the potential of Science of Reading and LETRS. Their commitment to improving literacy outcomes has not only changed my child’s life but countless others across North Carolina. The future is undeniably bright for our state’s students. With continued implementation of these focused instructional strategies and the compounding gains we are already witnessing, North Carolina is on a trajectory toward unparalleled success in literacy education.
The Science of Reading and LETRS professional development have ushered in a new era of literacy instruction in North Carolina. From administrators witnessing the transformation in classrooms to parents experiencing the remarkable progress of their children, we are united in our belief that these initiatives are the key to unlocking the full potential of every student. The decision to make these effective training programs statewide was a wise one, and the ripple effects of this decision will continue to shape the future of our state for years to come. North Carolina is a shining example of what is possible when we invest in evidence-based practices and prioritize the literacy needs of our students.