Reading Classes Dropped at Howard County, MD Middle Schools

Pending a vote, the Howard County, Maryland board of education is set issue a new schedule for their middle schools that will drop traditional reading classes.

The Howard County Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the proposed change this week, writes Sara Toth at the Howard Tribune.

Board Vice Chairman Frank Aquino said:

"This is going to pass at some time or another, whether it's next week or next year."

Under the new schedule, all Howard County middle schools would have a 50-minute, seven-period schedule, as opposed to current variations on a 45-minute, eight-period day, writes Toth.

Literacy instruction would be infused into other classes and traditional reading classes are scrapped in the new state curriculum, said Clarissa Evans, executive director of school improvement and curricular program.

"School officials say stand-alone reading class is inconsistent with the new curriculum, which goes into effect for the 2012-13 academic year."

Students who need explicit reading instruction will still receive it, Evans said. And she affirmed that reading instruction in other classes would not just be "tacked on at the end of the class."

Under the new plan, middle schools will undergo a massive change in curriculum. "Content-area" teachers, who teach subjects like science, social studies or math, would have lessons several times a week that focus on critical reading and response skills, outlined Evans.

"We're restructuring to an extent that I think is greater than people understand in all classes to emphasize literacy skills," she said.

County teachers have criticized the changes. At a public hearing with the board and central office staff members, several scheduling options were presented.

Other possibilities considered were based around freeing involved teachers from administrative duties or meetings during the implementation period. These included the option of having every-other-day planning period for those teachers, who already have one planning period devoted to administrative duties like lunch supervision or collaborative planning meetings, says William Ryan, executive director of school improvement and administration.

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