(June 28, 2019) PreK-12 Literacy and Title I Coordinator Dee Shorts shared with the Worcester County Board of Education the successes and progress made in the PreK-12 programs, how they have evolved the past five years as well the initiatives for the future, last Tuesday.

The new English programs first took off in 2014-2015, with the county realigning from the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum to Maryland College and Career Ready Standards for English.

“We’ve always had an extremely strong early, middle and high school reading program,” Shorts said. “When I came aboard, I had a unique experience in that everything we seemed to be doing was shifting from MSA, HSA and the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum to Maryland College and Career Ready Standards.

“In some ways I had a lot of heavy lifting and in other ways I had great opportunities, with Mr. [Lou] Taylor and Dr. [John] Quinn’s leadership to move the curriculum program forward and also bring on some new programs,” she continued.

During this first year, students in kindergarten to fifth grade started using anthologies.

Grades six through eight adopted a Spring Board digital dashboard, one of the first programs set up for Maryland College and Career Ready Standards.

Students in grades nine through 12 received new textbooks which also follows the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards.

For the 2015-2016 school year, a writer’s workshop was incorporated into all K-5 schools and an Early Literacy Committee was established to aid the nine through 12th grade English teachers utilize Pearson Realize-Common Core Edition.

This program was designed to compliment one-on-one technology initiative teaching.

“We’ve had a lot of success with our program reaching kids to read and write at an early level,” Shorts said. “Our teachers have been trained by a national consultant who really delivered some great instruction.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, a committee was formed to overview the language arts block for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. This committee reviewed time allotments and established a frameworks for students in K-2, and third through fifth grade began work on creating the 100 Book Challenge – which would take off the following year, and researched Wilson Fundations, a phonics program designed specifically for special education students as part of the Special Education Partnership.

The following year, the 100 Book Challenge was incorporated into kindergarten learning and piloted the Wilson Fundations program in kindergarten and first grade.

“Both programs had consultants that coached teachers in the implementation,” Shorts said.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the county received $1.2 million for three years for its Striving Readers Grant. This grant was designed to increase student achievement in literacy through the use of local needs assessments and evidence-based strategies and advance literacy for all children from birth through grade 12 and align literacy plans in local education agencies across the state.

This school year, the program received a Title I Grant for $390,000 which will be used for intervention materials over the next two years.

It also received $200,000 from the county commissioners to create a summer program called Understand by Design, or CenterPoint UbD, for students in kindergarten through second grade.

The program plans to implement CenterPoint UbD learning in School Year 2019-2020 for those kindergarten through second grade students with an additional $200,000 from the county commissioners to implement this process. It also wants to implement the 100 Book Challenge for students in third through fifth grade.

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