Improving Kids’ Reading Proficiency with English Language Arts Curriculum


Research is clear: If children cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, they face daunting hurdles to success in school and beyond. We knew the impact of supporting the new proposed English Language Arts (ELA ) program would be significant, as LPOSD has 1,900 students and 80 staff members in grades K-6.

In early 2018, when Andra Murray, Director of Teaching and Learning, submitted the ELA grant proposal, LPOSD’s K-6 reading curriculum was 11 years old and out-of-date with Idaho Core Standards. LPOSD students were struggling and not keeping up with the national average. Only 51 percent of our K-3 students entered the school year in Fall 2018 as proficient readers.

PAFE committed to funding $75,000 for K-6 ELA Curriculum and $20,000 for teacher professional development. The grant included three key components:

  1. A new curriculum (ReadyGEN) that would be implemented consistently throughout the schools and across the district
  2. A supplemental curriculum for grades K-2 to build foundational literacy skills.
  3. Literacy training days for all teachers in grades K-2, which focused on foundational reading skills.

Our teachers and staff committed to researching and piloting the new curriculum and providing feedback. The supplemental training, Enhanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI), helped the teachers develop new behaviors to increase the effectiveness of the new curriculum. This was no easy task. It required a commitment from the teachers to implement and innovate the curriculum and make it part of our system’s culture.

Kootenai Elementary teacher Lori Bopp likes the efficiency of the routines and the repeated practice that her students get. “Students benefit from the repeated practice and exposure, as well as the blending and segmenting practice,” Bopp says. “My students are much more proficient on sight words than in years past, and more comfortable reading and writing independently. I appreciate that ECRI starts with a previous year review, so my students start off feeling successful right away.”

So far, the results are promising:

LPOSD’s K-3 reading proficiency score on the Idaho Reading Indicator (the State’s required reading assessment for grades K-3) increased from 51 percent in Fall 2018 to almost 78 percent in the Spring of 2019. A 27 percent gain!

All elementary grades in LPOSD (grades 3-6) beat the state average on the ELA Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) test.

Each cohort of LPOSD elementary students improved in reading proficiency from Spring 2018 to Spring 2019

“We are so appreciative of the grant assistance from PAFE,” said Andra Murray, “I also want to recognize our hard-working staff. Implementing is hard work and it’s thanks to our dedicated teachers and the collaboration between home and school that we have achieved these gains.”

Together, we are closing the reading gap!

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels