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Kingsport, 15 other school districts join Read to be Ready

Rick Wagner • Aug 16, 2017 at 9:30 PM

NASHVILLE — Tennessee education officials continue to oversee the expansion of a program geared toward the goal and expectation that students will become proficient readers by third grade.

Kingsport City Schools is among 16 more districts joining the Read to be Ready Coaching Network for 2017-18 to strengthen the state’s youngest students’ reading abilities, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Wednesday.

That brings the total to 99, which is about two-thirds of all districts in the state. In Northeast Tennessee, school systems already in the network since it began in 2016-17 are Elizabethton, Johnson City, Johnson County, Carter County, Cocke County, Greene County, Washington County, Hamblen County, Hawkins County, Sullivan County, Bristol and Rogersville. Aside from Kingsport, the other new district in East Tennessee joining the network is Oak Ridge.

In addition, the department has released the first-year Read to be Ready Coaching Network report, which indicates participating educators have seen growth in their content knowledge, instructional practices and coaching skills.

The coaching network is part of the state’s Read to be Ready initiative that launched in February 2016 with the goal to move 75 percent of Tennessee students to reading proficiency by the end of third grade by 2025. Third grade is seen as when students should learn to read well enough so that they read to learn.

“The best way we can set our students up for a lifetime of success is providing them a strong educational foundation from day one,” Commissioner Candice McQueen said in a news release. “The Read to be Ready Coaching Network is a critical piece of the department’s broader efforts to support strong literacy skills throughout a student’s educational journey, while directly giving educators the tools they need to help our students to be successful.”

Since the launch of the network in September of 2016, more than 200 teacher-coaches have provided support and professional learning opportunities for educators focused on grades K-3 reading. These reading coaches have worked directly with more than 3,000 teachers to improve reading programs and practices in schools across the state. The department worked with districts in the network to provide training and support focused on deepening both coach and teacher knowledge of interactive read-alouds, shared reading practices and the department’s tenets of effective coaching.

The report indicates surveys regarding coach and teacher content knowledge showed substantive growth in both coaches and teachers in the inaugural year of the network. In addition, a majority of teachers in the network reported receiving critical support from their Read to be Ready coach at least once a month, and 92 percent report that working with their coach is improving their teaching.

To join the coaching network, districts must commit to the network assurances, which include funding a reading coach who will support a cohort of approximately 15 teachers. For more information, contact Elizabeth Norton, director of reading, at Elizabeth.Norton@tn.gov. For information about the Read to be Ready Initiative, contact Becky Cox, executive director of reading, at Becky.Cox@tn.gov.

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