GCS Director of Literacy letter to PAGE

August 20, 2018

Katherine Humphreys
Guilford County PAGE
Summerfield, NC 27310

Greetings, Ms. Katherine Humphreys.

Thank you for reaching out about the literacy curriculum in grades 3-9 in GCS and the best way to support learning for all students during the upcoming school year. I appreciate you taking time to share the feedback you have received from various stakeholders. The GCS Literacy Team is glad to partner with Guilford County PAGE to support teachers and students in the district. While the issues raised in your letter are not new, I am confident we can continue to work together to communicate the correct information to teachers, students, and families.

The first issue addressed in your letter involves the Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA). The IRLA is a robust instructional tool that allows teachers and students the opportunity to engage in an exchange that provides information for the next steps a learner can take to grow as a reader. As an ongoing instructional tool, the district only requires teachers to meet with every student at the beginning of the year by a certain date. After the initial student/teacher IRLA conference to determine next steps for the student to grow as a reader, the district does not have other deadlines. Classroom teachers are required to continue meeting with students on an ongoing basis, but they are given the flexibility to use a schedule that meets the needs of the students in the class. We will continue to reinforce the following message in upcoming communications with teachers and during professional learning sessions:

    • The IRLA is an instructional tool that provides information for teachers and students to make choices about how each student can continue to develop as a reader. After meeting with every student at the beginning of the school year, teachers have flexibility to determine the best schedule to meet with individual students to adjust reading levels and determine next steps or goals.

As for the second issue raised in the letter, the GCS Literacy Department has always shared with teachers that students should make the ultimate decision when selecting texts to read. We will continue to reinforce that message with teachers in upcoming communications and during professional learning sessions using the following reminder:

  • While color levels provide information about the progression of reading skills required at each level, they should not be used to mandate that any student has to choose texts for reading from a particular bin. Students should always be able to select texts from various bins. While teachers should encourage students to read texts that support their growth as a reader, the ultimate goal during wide-reading is for students to read texts they find interesting and engaging.

In order to communicate the previous points, the GCS Literacy Department will share this information with educators across the district using the communication methods below.

  • There will be a specific section in the September edition of the Literacy Matters newsletter for teachers in grades 3-9 that communicates the information.
  • An update with the information will be included in the weekly updates all GCS curriculum facilitators receive from the literacy department the week of August 27, 2018. GCS curriculum facilitators will be asked to share the reminders with teachers.
  • The bullets will be shared as an update on the GCS Literacy Teacher Canvas page.
  • The GCS Literacy team will meet with the job-embedded coaches from American Reading Company to make sure the coaches understand the district’s message about using the IRLA as an ongoing instructional tool and student choice when selecting texts to read.

This week I will reach out to you to schedule a time for us to meet and discuss other ways to communicate these critical messages with teachers, students, and families. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have additional suggestions about how we can continue to support teachers and students in the district.


Joy Cantey
Director of K-12 Literacy
Department of Teaching, Learning and Professional Development