Longview Schools Adopt Science-Based Reading Curriculum

Longview Schools Adopt Science-Based Reading Curriculum

The Longview School District in Washington has implemented a new reading curriculum that is based on scientific research on how the brain learns to read. The new curriculum, called Amplify, replaces the previous balanced literacy approach that relied more on context clues and independent practice. Teachers say the new curriculum has improved students’ attention spans, comprehension, and confidence.

Amplify is a reading curriculum that teaches students how to read words by decoding the sounds that different letters or groups of letters make. This method is based on the science of reading, which shows that reading is not a natural skill but a learned one that requires explicit instruction. Amplify also provides students with texts that match their reading level and interest, as well as assessments and feedback to monitor their progress.

According to Amplify’s website, the curriculum is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. It also incorporates social and emotional learning, diversity and inclusion, and critical thinking skills.

Longview Schools Switched to Amplify in 2020

The Longview School District decided to switch to Amplify in 2020, after reviewing several reading curricula and consulting with experts and teachers. The district received a grant from the state to purchase the curriculum and train the teachers. The district also hired a literacy coach to support the teachers and students.

The district’s director of curriculum and instruction, Elizabeth West, said the district wanted to adopt a curriculum that was based on the latest research and best practices. She said the district had been using a balanced literacy approach for years, but it was not effective for all students, especially those who struggled with reading.

“We wanted to make sure that we were providing our students with the best possible instruction that we could,” West said. “We wanted to make sure that we were closing the gaps for our students who were not proficient readers.”

Teachers and Students See Positive Results

Teachers who have been using Amplify say they have seen positive results in their students’ reading skills and attitudes. They say the students are more engaged, focused, and motivated to read.

One of the teachers, Jennifer Hickey, who teaches first grade at Columbia Heights Elementary School, said her students have improved their phonics, fluency, and comprehension skills. She said the students enjoy the interactive and hands-on activities that Amplify provides, such as games, songs, and videos.

“They love it. They’re excited to come to school. They’re excited to learn,” Hickey said. “They’re proud of themselves. They’re confident. They’re not afraid to try new things.”

Another teacher, Jessica Hays, who teaches third grade at Robert Gray Elementary School, said her students have increased their attention spans and stamina for reading. She said the students are able to read more complex texts and understand them better.

“They’re able to read for longer periods of time. They’re able to read more words per minute. They’re able to answer more questions correctly,” Hays said. “They’re able to have deeper conversations about what they’re reading.”

Longview Schools Aim to Improve Reading Outcomes

The Longview School District hopes that the new reading curriculum will help improve the reading outcomes for its students. According to the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 35% of fourth-graders and 32% of eighth-graders in Washington met or exceeded the proficiency level in reading.

West said the district is tracking the students’ progress and growth using Amplify’s assessments and other measures. She said the district is also providing ongoing professional development and coaching for the teachers to ensure the successful implementation of the curriculum.

“We’re really excited about the potential that this curriculum has for our students and our teachers,” West said. “We’re looking forward to seeing the results in the long term.”