Photo Credit: Public Domain
Published April 5, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Literacy rates among children in Tennessee were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and new initiatives have been put in place to help kids get back on track. Reading 360 and Literacy Reimagined are two such movements.
While Reading 360 spans a majority of the state and has been in effect for a few weeks, Literacy Reimagined is a newer initiative that mainly reaches out to Nashville students.
Three out of four third-graders in the Nashville school district are not able to read at their grade level.
The Elementary Literacy Interim Director for Metro Nashville Public Schools, Aliya Washington Smith, said, “Literacy Reimagined is all about re-engaging our efforts and our focus. It’s about improving literacy outcomes for our students and we want to do this by two key actions: Number on is putting high-quality instructional materials into the hands of teachers and students. Secondly, we have excellent teachers and we need to provide them with extensive, comprehensive professional development that reflects the most current research.”
Charity Quinonez, who teaches first grade English Learners at Goodlettsville Elementary school spoke out to say how much it saddens her to see children in her class struggling to read.
Quinonez said, “I knew based on being with them in the classroom every day, observations that we were doing, testing we were doing, that we weren’t meeting those students’ needs. There’s something missing in the instruction that we’re giving those students and so it breaks your heart as a teacher because you want so badly for the students in your room to succeed.”
Quinonez said she has always been aware of the challenges that come with teaching young kids a second language, but she has remained passionate about her work.
A press release from the Nashville school district said the “Literacy Reimagined initiative promises to teach reading and writing in a more robust and accessible way by putting curricula designed around authentic texts for students in the hands of excellent teachers.”
“Something I’m excited about with this new initiative is that we’re making sure all students are getting the same content and instead of bringing things down we’re going to build them up to grade-level text,” Quinonez said.
“Everything is there in line without being scripted for you so you’re still the expert in the room but rather than having to search and find what can I do to help my students read these texts it’s full of strategies and ideas for what to do for a variety of different students and it’s all there for you. So you can pick and choose what the students sitting in front of you need.”
The new initiative is planned to be implemented in Metro Nashville Public Schools starting in the fall. Quinonez has said that she believes students will not struggle too much after the pandemic.
She said, “Yes, COVID and shutting down schools has led to some losses in some areas and in some areas it hasn’t. Kids are really resilient. I think we can get kids back to where they need to be. I think it’s going to be individualizing what they need as they come back to us and focusing on what they gained while they were gone instead of what they’ve lost.”