Guilford audit shows need for teacher training, new books

Posted January 19, 2016
Updated January 20, 2016

Guilford County Schools says it needs more resources and teacher training to boost reading scores.

The district had an outside consultant called Education Resource Group look at 60 schools to figure out how they can improve literacy. The audit consisted of teacher and school leader interviews and classroom observations.

Whitney Oakley is Guilford's director of elementary curriculum. She says the audit revealed teachers need professional development around how to teach to different levels of students in the same classroom.

"If I have lots of kids sitting in my seventh-grade ELA classroom who are between the second- and fourth-grade reading level, my instruction looks much different," Oakley said.

The audit also showed a need for reading materials that reflect Guilford's modern and racially diverse student population.

"Kids want to see themselves in books. They want to see the things that they enjoy doing," Oakley said.

Last year, the district had proficiency rates similar to the state average. Fifty-four percent of the district's third-grade students tested at grade level in reading, and about 60 percent of its high school students were at grade level in English II.

Guilford's chief academic officer Nakia Hardy said the district is focusing on literacy in hopes of improving students' performance across the board.

“Strong literacy skills are essential to success in all other subject areas,” Hardy wrote in an email. “We must devote more energy and resources to making sure our students are reading fluently and fully comprehending the information they are faced with every day."

This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of its education coverage. Jess Clark is the 2015-16 Fletcher Fellow focused on education policy reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC and UNC’s School of Media and Journalism funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation. Articles produced by the Fletcher Fellow are considered to be "open content” that others can copy or modify.


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