Teaching and Learning Report

To: Michael Green

From: Asha Riley

Date: September 18, 2019

Re: Teaching and Learning

New Training Requirements for Paraeducators:

The Washington State Legislature recognized the need to support professional development opportunities for paraeducators. As such, legislative directive (HB 1115) was passed and a state-level workgroup met to make recommendations. As a result, the Paraeducator Certificate Program was created.  The program includes new state standards of practice and professional development training to advance the professional skills and knowledge of paraeducators.

The training begins with the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS), a course focused on the new paraeducator standards of practice.  The FCS is made up of the standards of practice, packaged in 12 units, and is designed to be provided to paraeducators in a 28-hour course. It is the responsibility of the school district to provide this training to paraeducators and ensure receipt. 

One of the four days of the Fundamental Course of Study training must be provided in person. The Paraeducator Board has defined a day as seven hours. This year school districts are required to provide two days (14 hours) of professional development on the Fundamental Course of Study.

The first sessions will be held on October 24th and 25th. Locations and more details will be coming soon. 

A district committee of paraeducators will be working together with me to help in the design and delivery of these trainings. We will also be creating some communication tools to help provide staff with more details about these new requirements. 

Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS):

Prior to school starting, all K-4 teachers participated in a two day workshop designed to develop their expertise in early literacy development. The training focused on research and deepening teacher understanding of best practices. The main objectives this year are for our teachers to understand the following:

  • Distinguish between the research base for best practices and other competing ideas not supported by scientific evidence;
  • Understand how language, reading, and writing are related to one another;
  • Make instructional decisions and program choices with reference to scientific research evidence, strategic use of assessments, and observations of students; and
  • Deliver comprehensive, integrated, language, and literacy instruction as defined by standards and by research for a given grade, age, or ability level.

Thus far, the training was well received and are already seeing changes in classrooms as a direct result. We look forward to the next two day session later this fall. 

The trainer is also working with our leadership team to provide improvement strategies specifically targeting early literacy. One of our first leadership decisions was to adopt a new assessment that specifically measures foundational literacy skills including phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, letter sound knowledge, reading accuracy and fluency. The assessment has established reliability and validity standards based on National norms, that will help us determine if students are making expected progress with foundational skills of literacy. The assessment also helps monitor progress of students as these supports are put in place.

As a leadership team, we will also be exploring which high leverage instructional practices we expect to see in every classroom and how we will support teachers to that end. 

Ready Math Implementation:

To support the implementation of our new K-4 math curriculum, we have hired trainers from Ready Math who have trained other districts (Longview SD) successfully and personally taught the resources in their own classrooms.

Before school started, the introductory teacher training emphasized the mathematics content, the lesson structure, and how to establish a classroom environment most suited for lesson delivery. The focus was to support teachers in planning lessons purposefully together.

To support sustained implementation success, the trainer will follow up visits to each elementary to provide feedback on implementation. Then based on our progress, they will offer differentiated building and classroom support for our teachers.