Knowing the fundamental importance of early literacy and students’ ability to read proficiently by third grade, the Georgia Department of Education is recognizing schools with exceptional achievement or growth in third-grade reading as 2022-2023 Literacy Leaders. Schools with 90% or more of their third-grade students reading at grade level or above are being recognized for outstanding achievement, and schools with a 15% or higher increase from 2021-22 to 2022-23 are being recognized for outstanding growth. A total of 155 schools in the state met the qualifications to be recognized as Literacy Leaders and 8 of those schools are in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools!
Andrea B. Williams Elementary School, Heard Elementary School, Jacob G. Smith Elementary School, Largo-Tibet Elementary School, New Hampstead K-8 School, Brock Elementary School, Rice Creek K8 School, and West Chatham Elementary School all received Literacy Achievement banners for growth.
"The ability to read opens up the doors not only to the rest of a student's education, but to their ability to continue learning throughout their life," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. "That's why we are laser-focused on literacy at the Georgia Department of Education and as a state. These schools -- our Literacy Leaders -- are doing exceptional work to ensure every student is equipped with the lifelong skill of literacy, and it's an honor to recognize them."
Throughout the months of September and October, Superintendent Woods will visit selected schools identified as Literacy Leaders to recognize and congratulate them. 2022-2023 Georgia Milestones scores showed positive indicators in early literacy -- particularly given the critical importance of students' ability to read by third grade. Third-grade English Language Arts (ELA) scores increased by three percentage points, while the percentage of third-grade students reading on grade level or above increased from 64 to 66 percent.
Dr. Denise Watts has identified literacy as the “north star” for the district and has committed to investment in professional learning in the science of reading. “We expect to continue a positive trajectory for improving the academic
outcomes for every student we serve,” said Dr. Watts. “The reading gains tell us we are headed in the right direction. Recent data reports indicate our youngest scholars are showing excellent gains from the time they enter school in pre-k and kindergarten to the end of the year when they transition to the next grade level – this growth is the foundation for future success, and we will continue to provide the tools they need to perform at their highest level.”
The district has invested more than $2 million dollars in a professional learning plan that is rooted in the science of reading and will begin in October. In addition, there are numerous community initiatives to support this important work, such as United Way’s Reading Buddies program.
Over the last decade, GaDOE has established literacy as a core component of the agency's mission, dedicating extensive efforts and resources to the improvement of literacy instruction and attainment. Those efforts include the L4GA grant program, which leveraged more than $240 million in federal funds to move the needle on literacy; the expansion of literacy readiness instructional supports and teacher training; and the creation of a dedicated Director of Literacy role to lead GaDOE's coordinated literacy work.
See more photos from today's presentation here