Oregon Teachers: Despite having taught for 13 years, Hillsboro kindergarten teacher Kandi Hess did not learn the rule for when the letter g makes the firm “guh” sound as opposed to the soft “juh” sound until she began a year-long science of reading workshop her school district introduced last summer. Hess acquired this rule while taking the LETRS course, which stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. G only forms the “juh” sound when followed by e, I or y.
Funding is Required for Oregon Teachers Who Want to Acquire the Proper Methods of Teaching Reading
Therefore, the memory aid “Gentle Ginger goes to the gym.” As Hess discovered, the English language benefits from numerous other phonic and phonemic laws that make it easier to learn to read.
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Hess, a teacher at Eastwood Elementary School, has remarked, “No one ever instructed me” in his training programme. “I’ve taken a lot of reading instruction classes and seminars that deal with reading problems, but I’ve never gotten this degree of clear how to teach reading.”
Phonics, the study of the written representation of sounds, and phonemics, the study of the sequence of sounds that make up a word, are at the heart of the program’s instruction for teachers. Words are mapped into memory when a youngster uses phonemic awareness to sound out new words and make the association between the pronunciation and their meaning. Hess remarked that this instruction is among the top of her career.
In light of the widespread learning setbacks students in the Portland area experienced during the pandemic and the growing interest in brain-based research on how humans learn to read, a growing number of Portland-area school districts are providing teachers with the option to take part in a 100-hour LETRS training programme. The course does not provide a set of lessons, but rather a collection of methods that have been shown effective via study.
The course requires districts to buy licences for each educator that takes part. According to company spokesperson Charlotte Andrist, roughly 2,500 licences for the first phase of the programme have been sold to Oregon school districts since 2019.
Most Oregon school districts can only afford to provide this training to a small subset of its teachers each year, despite the high demand. According to Marc Siegel, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Education, nearly 10,000 classroom instructors across the state teach students in grades K–2, when the bulk of reading teaching takes place.
“Oregon educators are starving for this knowledge,” said Angela Uherbelau, founder of the volunteer advocacy group Oregon Kids Read. The problem isn’t with the teachers themselves. The lack of consistent resources and a unified focus on helping teachers learn is a major roadblock.
Oregon teachers want to learn the right way to teach reading. They need funding to do it. https://t.co/9J8WHgSCj5
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) December 25, 2022
Teachers in the Portland region who have not participated in LETRS are nonetheless directed to deliver instruction based on research because more and more school districts in the area have embraced the science of reading curricula in recent years. The Hillsboro school district employs the phonics- and guided-reading-focused Wonders curriculum from McGraw Hill, as well as its Spanish-language counterpart, Maravillas.
Jaime Goldstein, a reading intervention specialist who oversees LETRS training in Hillsboro, argues that the programme equips educators to steer students toward a more scientifically literate stance.
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According to Goldstein, “These teachers understand the research at a greater level of sophistication and are able to serve the pupils better than just following the textbook.”
Uherbelau argues that more people would have access to the training if the state legislature made a concerted effort in the coming year to allocate funds for teacher education.
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