ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Clinton-Massie is adopting a different approach to reading instruction for children in the early grades.
“It’s a very exciting, innovative approach that, I’m not kidding you, is going to be noticed by other school districts,” Clinton-Massie Supt. Matt Baker said.
Called Orton–Gillingham, it is a teaching approach that explicitly teaches the connections between letters and sounds. It was introduced decades ago, and recent brain research and the science of reading are lending it further support, said the Clinton-Massie Elementary principal and assistant principal.
Orton–Gillingham pioneered the multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, said CM Elementary Assistant Principal Shelley Bailey. And CM Elementary Principal Jennifer Updike said its attention to phonics will help with spelling.
After the principals’ presentation, a video, and the superintendent’s enthusiastic support, the school board unanimously approved the change to the English Language Arts curriculum for grades kindergarten through five. The cost is estimated at $80,000 over a four-year period, including training this summer for teachers.
Bailey told the board of education that Massie’s current reading program for young students called “Journeys” is weak in phonemic awareness and phonics, “which are your foundations of reading,” she added.
Updike said the National Reading Panel identifies five pillars for early reading, and phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the five.
At one point in the board meeting, Baker said, “This [Orton–Gillingham] is setting us on a different plane.”
According to the website Understood, many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board President Jeremy Lamb asked how the new literacy approach will be measured in terms of success. Updike mentioned several ways to track it, one of which is the periodic assessments already conducted by schools.
After Lamb said something about looking at the results in two years, Bailey said in her opinion it needs to be a four-year period to really gauge the effectiveness.
She explained a four-year time frame would encompass children who were taught that way from day one in kindergarten to the end of third grade when results in Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee could be used as a benchmark.
In other news from the school board session, the members of the various board committees were named. The Finance Committee will be comprised of Mike Goodall and Mike Gorman. The Communication, Curriculum, Technology Committee will consist of Kathleen Norman and Jeremy Lamb.
The Negotiations, Policy, Personnel Committee will be made up of Jeremy Lamb and Kathleen Norman. And on the Buildings, Grounds, Transportation Committee are Andy Avery and Mike Goodall.
Lamb was elected board president for 2020 by his fellow board members, and Goodall was elected vice president of the board for 2020.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.