GCS to Start District-Wide K-3 Word Study Program

When it comes to learning to read and understanding sentence structure, consistency is essential for our youngest students. This is especially important when students move from school-to-school in the middle of the year, which often happens in Guilford County Schools.

On Tuesday, April 30, the Guilford County Board of Education took a big step toward providing that consistency when it approved a plan for district staff to negotiate a contract with the word-study program called Fundations. Beginning next year, all GCS students in kindergarten through second grade will learn these important skills through Fundations. The program, which was recommended by staff and a literacy planning committee, will include third-graders in 2014-15.

“The long-term data we have for kindergarten through third grade shows that we aren’t preparing students to be life-long successful readers,” said Whitney Oakley, executive director of K-8 curriculum and instruction. “Having an approach to teaching word study that is the same in all elementary schools will help teachers provide instruction that is based on research and will give students access to the same content across the district.”

The 2016 Strategic Plan focuses on raising the bar in instruction to meet the Common Core State Standards. In addition, the strategic plan also focuses on strategies in the areas of literacy and early intervention, which align with areas identified for improvement in the 2011 Diagnostic Audit completed by the Broad Foundation.

A literacy planning committee examined four word-study programs, but ultimately chose to recommend Fundations as the program with the strongest professional development and coaching, capacity for consistent district implementation, strongest research to support program effectiveness and the ability to use program as part of core instruction and as a research-based intervention. The instructional features of Fundations also show that it meets the needs of diverse learners.