“Literacy By 3” built on common goal: All students reading by Grade 3

HISD’s chief academic officer unveils comprehensive literacy plan, to be implemented starting in 2014-2015

HISD’s Chief Academic Officer Daniel Gohl presented a comprehensive literacy plan to the Board of Education on Thursday. The plan, Literacy By 3, engages students, teachers, parents, and community members around a common goal: having every student reading with proficiency by Grade 3.

“Literacy is hard work – it takes time, and it takes resources,” said Superintendent Terry B. Grier. “We have to do something different, and we have to do something bold.”

Implementation of Literacy By 3 will begin this summer with professional development for each school’s literacy leader – a designated teacher, counselor, or assistant principal who will support and monitor how literacy is taught at his/her assigned campus. Highlights of the literacy plan include:

  • Phonics-based instruction with guided reading
  • Continued use of HISD’s universal screener to measure reading level and growth
  • Real-world literacy projects in which students collaborate to produce authentic content, such as a letter to an elected official
  • Movement to a digital curriculum for teachers, and personalized learning for students as part of the district’s overall digital transformation (PowerUp)

“We are focusing our staff and resources to prioritize literacy,” Gohl said. “Ensuring literacy at an early age is the primary solution to addressing our dropout problem, raising our achievement levels, and engaging our students.”

Literacy By 3 also includes an awareness campaign to engage the Houston community in helping HISD address the literacy crisis. Houstonians will be encouraged not only to volunteer time and read to children, but to share books and personal reading lists, and make reading a priority for themselves.

“It’s not just a single plan or a campaign that we hope to launch,” said Chief Communications Officer Tiffany Dávila. “HISD is building a holistic movement toward reading at all ages, and it begins with each of us showing children – through our actions – why reading is important. When is the last time you read a book that changed your life? Those are the questions we will be asking Houstonians as we join together to address literacy.”

The district already supports a summer reading program for students and programs that support parents serving as their child’s first teacher. The Family and Community Engagement (FACE) department helps empower parents as educational partners, coordinating a school-readiness program that brings instructors to the homes of preschoolers to help parents work with their children. FACE has also launched a new type of interactive parent-teacher conference that takes place in a group setting.

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