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School district addresses reading concerns


TTSD plans sessions with teachers to answer questions about new curriculum

The Tigard-Tualatin School District has laid out plans to smooth a bumpy reading adoption that has concerned several teachers across the district.

In September, Tigard-Tualatin teachers union president told the School Board teachers were struggling with a newly installed reading curriculum, and asked the district to make changes to the way future curriculum changes are implemented.

In May, the district purchased a new, harder reading curriculum, in line with Common Core reading standards, which are set to take effect next year.

The new coursework requires students to read much more nonfiction work, as well as poetry.

Haliski said teachers did not receive proper training or clear instruction on what was expected of them to teach students, and many did not receive the needed books and materials in time for the start of school.

At the School Board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Ernie Brown said some of the problems teachers were facing were part of regular growing pains.

“What we are going through right now are things associated with a new adoption that impacts a really large number of teachers and a large number of students,” he said. “It is about being diligent to continue to engage with teachers, administrators and the central office.”

Last week, the district released a plan for addressing the problem, saying it would offer after-school training sessions focused on topics teachers have identified, including how much time to spend on reading, vocabulary and writing, as well as strategies for keeping students engaged.

Schools will also give teachers time to sit in on colleague’s lessons, the district said, and hold a special training day in December with the textbook publishers to generate ideas for improvement.

For years, the district’s elementary school reading program has been well received, and often touted by district leaders as one of its best programs.

That level of accomplishment came from making sure that teachers got the same training across the board, Brown said.

“There was a commitment to making sure that the reading program is the reading program, no matter what school you go to or what experience you have," he said. "There is a commitment to moving forward in a really coordinated fashion, and when things come up, we address it throughout all 10 elementary schools. They all get the same information and clarifications.”

Brown said the district has received several questions about the new reading program from concerned teachers and the district would address them.

“We have a lot of really good people working really hard to answer all of those questions, and we will eventually get through it,” he said. “It’s a new adoption, and there are some elements to it that are different that our teachers haven’t experienced before, and its our responsibility to understand where people are having some stress and get to work on alleviating that. I’m very confident that we are focused on doing just that.”