June 22, 2022

Sylacauga City Schools Improve Literacy and Math Through Professional Development and Instructional Coaches

SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The Sylacauga City School System (SCS), along with the rest of the country, has seen a drastic decline in literacy and math test scores since 2019, but the school system has been working on new methods and practices teaching to try and reverse the downward trend.

To help improve literacy, more than 40 teachers from Indian Valley Elementary School and Pinecrest Elementary School participated in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training this year.

This professional development method equips SCS teachers with different strategies to teach “phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing and language”.

“Teachers embraced powerful instructional practices based on this dynamic professional development,” said district reading specialist Julie Green.

Teachers at Nichols-Lawson Middle School and Sylacauga High School received six days of professional development focused on literacy and math.

Literacy training has shown classroom teachers how to create assignments that challenge students to read grade-level texts in all subject areas and demonstrate their understanding of these texts both orally and in writing.

Specialists from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) have helped guide teachers through these development days, and SCS math and literacy instructors are already seeing the benefits.

“SREB has changed the way we teach math in our district with phenomenal teaching strategies that we all use in our classrooms every day,” said Gay Coley, math teacher at Nichols-Lawson Middle School. . “One of the greatest assets that SREB has given us is the vertical team and collaboration between high school and middle school math teachers. We all now speak a common mathematical language that will benefit our students as they progress through our school system. »

In order to continue to progress in these new ways of teaching, the four schools now have teaching assistants.

Pedagogical coaches are experienced teachers who support class teachers in implementing best practices from professional development.

Elementary schools have both a reading coach and a math coach to help teachers, while Nichols-Lawson and Sylacauga High School have an instructional coach who helps with all subjects.

Growth in teacher effectiveness is measured by student performance, and improvement has been noted in all schools through classroom observations and periodic evaluation data.