LPSD improving literacy

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August 28, 2014 1:32 PM

Since last year when the Government of Saskatchewan put the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) into motion, the Lloydminster Pubic School Division (LPSD) surpassed the yearly goal set by the province for literacy rates in Grade 3 children.

The literacy rate for Grade 3 children in Lloydminster, as of June, sits at 79 per cent, one per cent above the provincial goal for the 2014/15 year.

But the LPSD doesn’t plan on stopping there.

“In essence, we’ve already achieved that goal,” said Trisha Rawlake, superintendent of curriculum and instruction for kindergarten to Grade 6 schools. “But, we have a new group of kids and our goal is always to take the kids as far as we can, regardless. I mean, ultimately, we want every child reading at grade level.”

With that in mind, a unique new program has been set to further encourage literacy rate growth in Lloydminster.

With long-term plans to break the provincial goal of an 80 per cent literacy
rate in Grade 3 children by 2020, the LPSD will introduce three literacy coaches into the Grade 3 curriculum, each to be assigned to two schools each across Lloydminster.

Jeanette Richards is one of those coaches. She began her career with the LPSD as a teacher in 1982, when a common set of reading materials was used to teach all the students in the classroom, she said. Now, reading instruction is geared more toward the individual. This trend will be taken a step further when the coaches are introduced.

They will work with children and teachers every day throughout the school year, enabling them to gather data to further enhance each student’s individual needs. Through this experience, the coaches will build support systems unique to each student.

“It’s a very student-driven model based on student needs,” said Rawlake, who oversees curriculum, behaviour and professional development in the district, and went on to say that each student’s needs, whether requiring individual or group studies, will be met.

This philosophy goes hand in hand with those of the ESSP, which has public schools across Canada using a two-fold program called Fountas & Pinnell, which not only acts as a benchmark assessment of student’s literacy capabilities, but also as a method of addressing specific learning needs of children.

The focus on Grade 3 literacy was inspired by studies that suggest that 30 per cent of students at this grade level struggle to read. In the long term, a heavy correlation between Grade 3 literacy and high school graduation rates is also noted.

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