Education First

EDUCATION FIRST: ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND LITERACY

*What are our goals when it comes to academics and our students? We need to focus on academic excellence. Nowhere is this more important than in early literacy. Kids who aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade are far more at risk of adulthood struggles with employment and chemical dependency, and encounters with the criminal justice system (RoleOfDyslexiaInSchoolToPrisonPipeline; Anne Murphy Paul: ‘Matthew Effect’ and Why Third Grade Is So Important | TIME.com; The Lifetime Effects of Poor Literacy – Helping Children to Read; Ch02FactSheet02.pdf (policeabc.ca); Addicts Read Their Way to Self-Esteem). 

How have we done? With EPS’ singular focus on equity over the last eight years, one would think minority third grade reading scores would be rising. But that is not the case!  

 Percent Proficient: Third-Grade Readers

YearAll StudentsBlackWhite
201575.4%44.8%76.1%
201678.6%60%82%
201778.2%56.3%79.4%
201870%39.4%74.1%
201975.3%42.9%78%
202170.1%37.5%70.9%

Source: Minnesota Report Card

At last report, of all third graders in the district, nearly thirty percent aren’t proficient readers. 

*Has what we’ve been “experimenting with” been working in our district? Please look closely at the above numbers. Do your own research. You be the judge. 

We are embarking on a new literacy plan in EPS (PreK-12 Comprehensive Literary Plan). Who will monitor the success of this program? I propose that School Board members hold accountable the proponents of any literacy program and ask good questions about its efficacy.  It is imperative we monitor the success of this initiative for early identification of dyslexic students, success of teacher professional development, and for positive results of evidence-based literacy curriculum. 

Given our large number of advanced learners, we need to rededicate ourselves to ability-grouped classes. We need to recommit ourselves to education-specific professional development. Preserving, all the while, the excellence of many existing programs in Edina Public Schools, such as our Advanced Placement Classes, Continuous Progress Programs, French Immersion at Normandale, etc. 

Not every program will get everything right! We must be humble enough to change course when our best intentions don’t produce results!!