In one year, student reading success at Rapides Parish Schools improved notably after the implementation of a new teacher professional development course of study, Voyager Sopris Learning's LETRS.
In a district-wide effort to boost teachers’ reading instructional skills, administrators at Rapides Parish School Board selected Voyager Sopris Learning’s LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) professional development solution.
According to Alana Cohen, district curriculum specialist, Rapides Parish has witnessed gains of 33 percent from K–3 students on their STAR Early Literacy tests, since teachers began the program in the 2016–17 school year.
Kimberly Bennett, executive assistant superintendent at Rapides Parish, said one of her district’s primary goals has been to improve the reading level and skills of its K–3 students.
“Going through the process, the one question we had to answer was ‘Do our teachers really understand the reading process?’” Bennett said. “For us, LETRS was the missing piece, especially with the shift in education where so many teachers are coming from non-traditional backgrounds to teach. It’s imperative to us—teachers need to know how students learn to read to be able to effectively teach reading.”
Mary Moore has been an educator in the Rapides Parish district for 25 years and is in her second year of LETRS training.
“I’ve had a lot of training over the years in phonics and phonemic awareness,” said Moore, in her third year of teaching first grade. “But the LETRS training modules are very helpful and remind me about the importance of doing these drills. Student engagement is more important today than ever before, and the research we’ve learned as part of LETRS about how the brain works helps us know how to keep the kids engaged.”
Based in Alexandria, the ninth largest school district in Louisiana, Rapides Parish School Board serves students in 48 schools, 32 of which are elementary schools.