At the May Washington Court House City School Board meeting, curriculum director Diana Wayne gave a presentation regarding the new English and Language Arts curriculum that will be implemented for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, beginning in the fall of 2023.
The curriculum is titled CKLA, which stands for core knowledge language arts. Wayne shared some information with the board members about how this curriculum was chosen.
“This was a process. We had a curriculum adoption committee and I’m very proud of this committee. We had over 200 people a part of it, and it was comprised of grade level classroom teachers from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade. We had title teachers, those of our reading specialists, our literacy coach, our deeper learning coordinator, our intervention specialists, and our gifted and special education teachers. We wanted representation of all the students we serve, because that’s important as all kids need good literacy instruction. In addition, we also reached out to the region, and we had a regional early literacy specialist that was a part of this. We also had from the State Support Team, their Director of Teaching and Learning with a literacy concentration a part of this. We had a very robust committee, and it was a unanimous vote to go with this curriculum, which I think says a lot.”
She talked in depth about why this curriculum was chosen.
“There is an issue that’s not just in Washington Court House, not just in Ohio, but in the whole nation where children are not reading to their full literacy potential. We are not meeting those benchmarks. We needed a new curriculum that was aligned with all the current research that tells how or explains how children learn to read. Our current one is not aligned to that. Now, we’re also backed by the state of Ohio. I’m sure you’ve seen on the news about all the legislation that they’re working on to ensure that all public schools have a curriculum that’s aligned with the science of reading. You’ll hear Governor DeWine speak about that and there’s just a lot of directives coming from the state.”
She continued, “The science of reading is just a large body of research that talks about how children learn to read, the best instructional approaches for that, and what’s effective. The science of reading isn’t actually the curriculum, it’s the philosophy and then you find a curriculum that aligns to this. I can tell you that our current one is not aligned. We’ve been on this journey for a long time to get better and to reach every single child. It started back in 2020 when we had a core group of teachers that went through Orton Gillingham training, which is where you learn how to use a multi-sensory approach to teach struggling readers, and we have a lot of struggling readers. There were about seven of us that went through a full year of learning with Dr. Susan Nolan, who happens to also work with the state on raising literacy achievement. Then, we went ahead and did the LETRS training. We did that for two years with our teachers from kindergarten through third grade ELA, and even had a fourth grade intervention specialist. We now have a literacy coach as well.”
Wayne stated that one part of the directives that’s come from the state includes requirements to screen all children beginning in kindergarten for dyslexia. She explained that the district has already adopted a screener who has put that into place.
She finished, “I’m super proud of all the teachers and administrators. All of us came together to do what’s best for our kids and for these literacy achievements. We did a visit to Blanchester and saw this curriculum in action. It was one of the most exciting days in education for all of us that were on the committee, because we saw what those kids were doing. If they can do it, we can do it. The rigor of this curriculum is much greater than we’ve had in the past. We reviewed what options we had and then we voted unanimously on CKLA. I’m confident that every child will be getting the best literacy instruction at Washington Court House City Schools.”