Instructional changes to increase reading comprehension in Effingham Co. schools

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 3:05 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 4:11 PM EST
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Most school districts across the country returned to full in-person learning at the beginning of this year. But despite a return to the classroom, some are still dealing with the lingering impacts from the pandemic, mainly lost learning.

In response, Effingham County has gone back to the basics and seen tremendous results simply by getting kids to open a book.

In Effingham County, reading is cool.

“Reading is the foundation for absolutely everything in education, absolutely everything.”

So, when coming out of the pandemic the district began to notice an issue.

“We had some lost learning from some families who moved into the district. We had some lost learning from some families that were within the district,” Ford said.

They knew right where to start. So, the district put together a committee to answer an important question.

“What do our boys and girls need most? The phonics instruction is what they came out with,” Ford said.

From there they took action.

“Started last year with some funds and built some classroom libraries for every teacher in the district. We purchased a new phonics program that’s mandatory, that teachers do 30 minutes every day of targeted purposeful phonics instruction,” Anna Barton said.

Small steps they say have already made a big difference.

“Kids have to have books in their hands and lots of resources, but yes, we’ve seen major gains by having that kind of nonnegotiable mandatory phonics instruction every day,” Barton said.

But if you ask Ford, even the best plans are hopeless unless you have the best people behind them.

“There’s a lot of wonderful programs out there, and we’ve adopted a really good phonics program, but without the most important aspect of it, the teacher in front of the kids, the phonics program is useless,” Ford said.