Help solve the Richland School District literacy crisis

Help solve the Richland School District literacy crisis

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Eugene & Jenelle Nemeth started this petition to All citizens within Richland School District Boundry

**Students who were struggling to learn to read or read at a proficient level before the COVID pandemic have fallen even further behind. Our students can’t wait years for change. They need OUR HELP now. If you believe that reading is a foundation for learning and a civil right, SIGN our petition to help solve the Richland School District literacy crisis. Let Richland School District know you want them to immediately address our literacy crisis and take the steps necessary to transform our District into a literacy Center of Excellence.**

Richland School District was in the midst of a reading crisis long before COVID: Over the last 6+ years 40% of our students did not meet grade level standards in reading. Distance learning during COVID made the reading crisis worse. Recent test data indicates nearly 70% of K-3 students and 50% of all students did not meet grade level standards. The reading problem is not going to fix itself and our youngest learners are experiencing a reading crisis!

Link to RSD OSPI Assessment Report Card

Breakdown by grade of RSD scores

The declining state of literacy in Richland School District requires immediate corrective action. We need to take ownership and accountability of this grave issue because our students deserve better outcomes.   

WE have the power to CHANGE this. The good news is there is a solution: Instruction grounded in the science of reading, known as "Structured Literacy." 

50–75% percent of students require a structured literacy approach to be successful and best of all, this approach benefits ALL STUDENTS

We can make the difference for Richland School District students. SIGN the petition and communicate to Richland School District administration that we want immediate corrective action. We request Richland School District prioritize Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training for all reading/ELA teachers and reading specialists. To compliment LETRS training, we request Richland School District implement a District-wide structured literacy program immediately. Our most valuable assets, our students, cannot wait any longer. This is the first step in the journey. Following this, we will take this effort to our legislators and work to get funds earmarked in the budget to help immediately implement LETRS training and curriculum based on the Structured Literacy approach.

Take Action Today! Help change the outcomes of our students now and for years to come. Please join us on our journey to becoming a literacy Center of Excellence.

The Right to Read

Teaching Reading

What Reading Science is Really About

The Culture that Kills Pt2: Student Blaming - Lifelong Literacy

Lexia Learning Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling

Proposed Letter To RSD Superintendent

February 2022

To Dr. Shelley Redinger and Richland School Board Directors,

As parents of Richland School District students, we are writing you to plead with you to improve our students' reading proficiency. Every student deserves the opportunity to become a proficient reader! Reading is a foundational skill that affects one’s ability to function within our society.

Over the last 6+ years the Richland School District was content with 40% of our community’s children not meeting grade level standards in reading. Post-Covid, nearly 70% of K-3 students and 50% of all students did not meet grade level standards. The trend in reading proficiency continues to decline. We cannot continue to tell our teachers to simply work harder. It is obvious to us, even as parents that the reading instruction methods used by our teachers are not effective enough.

As parents we feel enough is enough—we want our kids to read and read well! While researching to help be a part of this solution, we found countless other districts across the nation were experiencing this very same problem, typically leaving behind 45-55% of their students in reading.

The good news is there is a solution: instruction that is grounded in the science of reading, also known as “Structured Literacy.” Through our research we have learned that a structured literacy approach is explicit, systematic instruction that is grounded in the science of reading.

Data all across our nation has proved that districts using a structured literacy instructional approach can teach 95% of students to read and be proficient!

The structured instructional approach has been around for many years, is well studied and is required by LAW here in Washington State. RCW 28A.320.260 states:

(3)(a) If a student shows indications of below grade level literacy development or indications of, or areas of weakness associated with, dyslexia, the school district must provide interventions using evidence-based multitiered systems of support, consistent with the recommendations of the dyslexia advisory council under RCW 28A.300.710 and as required under this subsection (3).

(b) The interventions must be evidence-based multi sensory structured literacy interventions and must be provided by an educator trained in instructional methods specifically targeting students' areas of weakness.

(c) Whenever possible, a school district must begin by providing student supports in the general education classroom. If screening tools and resources indicate that, after receiving the initial tier of student support, a student requires interventions, the school district may provide the interventions in either the general education classroom or a learning assistance program setting. If after receiving interventions, further screening tools and resources indicate that a student continues to have indications of, or areas of weakness associated with, dyslexia, the school district must recommend to the student's parents and family that the student be evaluated for dyslexia or a specific learning disability.”

Through many conversations with our teachers and staff, and our own observations, it is clear the Richland School District is not in compliance with the law. We understand that RSD now screens every child for dyslexia (which satisfies the first portion of this law), but then it stops there. We are not using structured literacy in our general education classrooms; rather we are using a non-evidence based balanced literacy instruction. A simple search on OSPI’s website clearly tells us balanced-literacy instruction is very different than structured literacy instruction. Why are we continuing to use a reading instructional program that only works for 40%-50% of students, especially in the dire circumstances we find ourselves after the disastrous year of virtual/hybrid learning? The time has come to admit that our current instructional approach is not working and shift to a structured literacy approach which will not only benefit the 50% of students we have continually left behind but also those students who would have learned to proficiently read, regardless of instructional method.

We parents are asking the Richland School District to do the following:

1.     Train all our preK-5th grade teachers, special education teachers, instructional specialists, and principals in a structured literacy approach grounded in the science of reading. We have heard RSD has granted teacher and administrator access to the LETRS training on a volunteer basis. This is a great start; however, as stated in the law, ALL teachers need to be trained. We hear this training is incredible, but is also time-intensive. We love our teachers and principals and it would be wonderful to see those who go through this program rewarded with a bonus.

2.     Adopt a new elementary ELA curriculum that uses a structured literacy approach as soon as possible. Teachers need the resources readily available to teach our kids using this explicit, systematic instruction method. We know the curriculum adoption process takes time, but our children have no more time to give. Please use our tax dollars and start this process right now.

3.    Get our administrators on board and excited! We know there will be many teachers who are resistant to this shift. We get it; change is hard AND some teachers may have seen success with some of their students using a balanced literacy approach. But the truth is, even our most successful schools still see 15-20% of their students below grade level in reading. Show the teachers the incredible success stories all around the country (even in the state of Washington) where districts made the shift from a balanced literacy approach to a structured literacy approach. It’s exciting data and our students deserve to be taught by teachers who know how to properly teach ALL students how to read.

4.    Lastly, we should not overlook the population of 6-12th graders that are reading well below grade level. Right now their remediation, if they are receiving any, consists of the balanced literacy approach or a hodgepodge of techniques and does not address the student’s structural deficiencies. They are running out of time and many need immediate intervention or they will leave our school system grossly unprepared for life. We cannot overlook this population of students!

We love our children and want to send them off into this world knowing we have done all we can do to give them the tools they need to be successful. Reading is the foundation for all learning. Please change Richland School District into a district that strives to get ALL of our students to meet and exceed reading standards. Let's work together and transform Richland School District into a Center of Excellence for literacy.

Thank you,

The HOPEFUL Parents and Guardians of the Students in the Richland School District

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”- Maya Angelou

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