Guilford Schools Say They Need More Books, Training To Improve Literacy

Jan 18, 2016

Credit U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

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.