The Bald Eagle Area School District implemented a new English/language arts program for some of its students this year.
The district spent about a year studying testing trends from a five-year period. It showed students — kindergarten to sixth grades — were not succeeding in the subjects, Orichosky said.
“We weren’t super successful. We saw (test) scores were flat over the years,” he said. “We needed to find a way that was a good teaching method that would better benefit the students.”
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The program is a universal way of teaching at the four elementary schools, and in the sixth grade at the middle school. In the past, teachers were responsible for their individual teaching.
“It was disjointed teaching,” Orichosky said. “The new reading program is a uniform program that each teacher has to teach by. They can bounce ideas off each other… It’s an easy way to know what the teachers’ curriculum is.”
The program, through McGraw-Hill, was designed for the “common core state standards” through research-based instruction, a report from the district said.
The mission is to build a strong reading foundation, understand complex text, find and use text evidence, and engage in collaborative and supportive conversations with the teachers and peers.
The district released a statement that said its teachers will use the “balanced literacy approach” that includes phonics, phonological and phonemic awareness, high-frequency words, spelling, vocabulary, and reading instruction using syllables, onsets and rhymes.
Other changes include more complex reading assignments, increased use of online resources, more complex test questions, improved integration of writing and grammar skills with reading, and more student collaboration, the report said.
The program will be tweaked when necessary, Orichosky said.
“We’re focusing on the best ways to enhance education,” Orichosky said.