DALLAS, June 22, 2016 – The State of Mississippi is witnessing significant improvement in children's literacy, and one of the key contributing factors is Voyager Sopris Learning's LETRS professional development program, according to a recently released study. Voyager Sopris Learning's LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) provides the deep foundational knowledge necessary to understand how students learn to read, write, and spell — and why some of them struggle.
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) study, "Strong Readers = Strong Leaders," documents how the state's Literacy Based Promotion Act of 2013 has had a major impact with steadily improving statewide test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the nation's report card. It further documents the integral role played by LETRS, which the MDE has used for professional development for its K-3 teachers beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
Since that time, Mississippi is the lone state in the U.S. to see increased reading levels on the NAEP, at a time when most states showed decreased levels. "NAEP scores are continuing to improve; we have stronger students," the study concluded. "Promising practices and signs of momentum are emerging."
"The state of Mississippi, and the many passionate people behind the 2013 Literacy Act, are to be applauded for tackling this important literacy challenge," said Jeffrey A. Elliott, President, Voyager Sopris Learning. "We are proud to be a partner with Mississippi's dedicated educators, working to ensure that all students are proficient in reading, and laying the groundwork for them to be successful in college and the workforce."
As part of the LETRS implementation at MDE, teachers and principals attended a six-day LETRS training, in which they collaborated with the Department of Education's literacy coaches. According to the report, more than 15,000 teachers and administrators were trained to help "connect training content to classroom instruction, relate scientific research and theory to classroom instruction, discuss research through interactive activities and exercises," plus apply best practices to instruction.
According to the study, "PD is one of the fundamental drivers of organizational change, and at the school level, teachers and principals are the main targets for change. In the LETRS training, there is great emphasis on evidence- and data-based decision making. Unanimously the teachers agree that their professional learning has been advanced by the MDE's literacy coaches and LETRS training."
"LETRS explores the reasons why many students have reading difficulties and the ways children learn to read and examines the sequence of phonological skill development," one MDE staff member was quoted in the report.
A teacher said: "Before the training (of LETRS), I was lost; I was old-fashioned in my teaching."
The eye-opening results have attracted the attention of other U.S. states – Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee and South Carolina– as they consider enacting similar such laws as Mississippi enacted. Under the guidance of Governor Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Board of Education's vision was "to create a world-class educational system that gives students the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and the workforce."
Recently, the Colorado-based Education Commission of the States awarded Mississippi the 2016 "Frank Newman Award for State Innovation," calling Bryant's legislation a "transformational education reform package that prioritized early learning reading skills…"
LETRS was developed for Voyager Sopris Learning in conjunction with Dr. Louisa C. Moats, a world-renowned literacy expert.
For more information on Voyager Sopris Learning, visit www.voyagersopris.com. For more information on LETRS, visit www.voyagersopris.com/professional-development/professional-books/letrs-second-edition/overview.
About Voyager Sopris Learning
Voyager Sopris Learning is an education partner committed to unlocking the full potential of every teacher and every student. We believe that the best way to meet and exceed standards in education is to address the underlying systems of teaching and learning, and to nurture those systems at their most fundamental levels. Our suite of instructional and service solutions is based not only in research but also in real classroom evidence, ensuring that every solution is as easy-to-implement and teacher-friendly as it is effective. We offer a variety of digital and blended instructional tools and assessments, as well as professional development and school improvement services, all of which are designed to help every teacher deliver nothing short of the highest-quality instruction to every student. Voyager Sopris Learning is a business unit of Cambium Learning Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ABCD), based in Dallas, Texas.