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Superintendent's Literacy Update


Larkspur-Corte Madera School District


Dear LCMSD Community, 

Education is a field that is constantly evolving. Our LCMSD team is committed to staying current and adjusting teaching methodologies and curriculum to align with best practices. In January we provided you with this update in response to the Sold a Story Podcast and other concerns cited in the media, such as this May 2022 NYT article regarding the science of reading and inconsistencies found in literacy curricula. My January update cited three specific steps the district was investigating to address these issues. Since this communication, we’ve held a parent coffee chat, engaged our district-wide Curriculum Council, met with Lucy Calkins in person, and our literacy team has created an action plan based on the three steps I outlined. 

As we head into summer, it is important for us to provide you with an update on our action plan which includes some significant changes for the 2023-24 school year. These shifts are in alignment with the science of reading while continuing successful aspects of our current literacy program. Below is our plan. 

We will focus on professional development so that we can provide literacy instruction through three main structures: reading workshop, writing workshop, and the addition of word study workshop.

  • K-2 teachers attended a training  this spring that oriented them with the revised Units of Study for reading that are in greater alignment with the science of reading
  • In August, November, and March teachers will engage in workshops to provide the  foundational components of a word study workshop: the K-2 focus will be on explicit phonics and 3-5 will focus on morphology
  • All teachers will participate in two "Learning Lab" experiential workshops to build their instructional practices with regard to word study. They will build schema, engage in guided practice, and plan for the transition of their learning into their word study workshop.
  • All teachers will participate in at least two individualized coaching sessions to assist in their word study workshop classroom implementation 
  • Ten teachers piloted the Heggerty Phonological Awareness Curriculum, which will be implemented K-2 in fall of 2023

We will re-examine our use of the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System and our overall approach to literacy assessment

  • Fountas and Pinnell will be replaced with DIBELS M-Class as our universal screener, which was piloted in May after careful consideration of a variety of screeners
  • LCMSD will discontinue early release days for fall and winter reading assessments, with the only exception being for kindergarten in the beginning of the school year
  • Based on the results of the universal screener, teachers will assess students that are at risk for demonstrating reading difficulties using diagnostic assessments. Those tools pinpoint the specific need for the intervention and allow the team to monitor progress. 

We continue to provide literacy interventions

  • The intervention team will continue to prescribe interventions for identified  students based on a variety of data points, including phonics assessments. The team creates prescriptive learning routines for intervention groups based on the data that include, but is not limited to: explicit phonics instruction, phonological awareness oral exercises, comprehension development, and the use of multi-sensory approaches such as Orton-Gillingham. Our intervention team's plans are currently in alignment with the reading research

Literacy, along with our continued work in mathematics, will be at the forefront of our work in LCMSD. It is our commitment to our students, our parents, and our community to provide the best possible instruction with the goal of ultimately improving student outcomes. We are confident that our plan paves a solid road ahead and look forward to the important work ahead. 

Thank you,

Dr. Brett Geithman

Board of Trustees

Annie Sherman, President

Eric Schmautz, Vice President

Amir Movafaghi, Clerk

Beth Blair

Natalie Medved