The Tennessee Department of Education has joined with roughly 90 districts in the state to create a network that trains teachers in the best ways to teach children literacy skills.
The goal is to get more students reading on grade level, and the Read to be Ready coaching network will train and retrain to support over 200 reading coaches on how to assist teachers in efforts toward literacy education. The initiative is part of a $9 million investment made last year to build student reading skills, reports Jason Gonzales for The Tennessean.
The training sessions kicked off this week in Knoxville, and the coaches now will be taking their lessons back to their school districts.
The network was established to lead Tennessee school districts into methods that have been identified to increase positive results in reading instruction, particularly in the early grades. Currently, the education department is seeking to bring 75% of all third-grade students up to grade level by 2025.
On Wednesday, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said that the state had not done enough to instruct teachers in how to teach children to read. The methods are different throughout the state, and there are many deficiencies to be corrected. McQueen added that so much time had been spent on teaching reading that not enough instruction has occurred in the area of comprehension.
"You learn about the world in one of two ways," McQueen said. "One is through the experiences that you have and the other is reading. Reading is a critical component of making sure all kids are learning and that the learning is moving them to success in the next stage."
The coaches in the network are obligated to spend a minimum of 60% of their time assisting teachers and giving specialized training to small groups of educators annually. Coaches must also agree to teaching six practices that have been proven to help young people learn skills needed to read and comprehend text.
Over the summer in Tennessee, 20 summer programs were chosen from over 200 proposals to receive funding. The funding was donated by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
The Chattanoogan reports that 95% percent of the programs saw an increase in student confidence and interest in reading. Almost 24,000 hours were spent writing and reading over the summer months. McQueen said:
"Reading is foundational to a student's academic success and by cultivating the skills and desire to read we can develop them into deeper thinkers, problem-solvers, lifelong learners, and future leaders of Tennessee."
And on the Tennessee Government website, the education department has posted the Read to be Ready guidelines that explain the principles and practices of the program.
The education department will use information from coach and teacher knowledge surveys, coach training satisfaction surveys, teacher satisfaction surveys of coach support, classroom observations, and assessments of student achievement and learning to track progress.
From this data, the state will make ongoing improvements to ensure that the Read to be Ready Coaching Network is increasing student learning and literacy achievement statewide.