State Education Board Recognizes Wasatch Jump In Literacy

Oct 8, 2018

Wasatch County School District Superintendent Paul Sweat addresses the Utah State Board of Education
Credit Utah State Board of Education

Wasatch School District was recognized at the Utah State Board of Education meeting last week.

The Wasatch County School District had an 11% gain in literacy proficiency according to assessments from the state. Superintendent Paul Sweat explained to the state board that after careful planning the district implemented several tools to increase literacy, including additional training for teachers.

“We started a reading endorsement class. Of a couple hundred elementary teachers in Wasatch County School District, we were blown away when over half of them signed up to spend two evenings a week working on a literacy endorsement.”

The district is also seeking to help children learn to read early in life. The district uses tools such as UPSTART Software, and all-day kindergarten to increase literacy.

“That’s the software that we try to get into the homes of our three- and four-year old’s, so that they have some instruction on literacy before they ever get to school. There’s lots of homes that need this. There’s lots of homes that mom and dad either don’t or they can’t read to their students and give them what they need. We’ve gone door to door expanding our UPSTART footprint. We have greatly expanded our pre-school. We’re to the point where we can almost accommodate every student that wants to be in preschool. We have again targeted those students that need the help the most, that come from underprivileged homes. We’ve offered all-day kindergarten as an option. We had to go to truth in taxation to fund it. While there was some concern we left it as an option. I was just speaking with Eric, (Campbell) our Elementary Education Director, and he believes only seven students opted out of all-day kindergarten. It gives us more time to help them get started on the right path with their literacy experience as a kindergartener.”

Sweat also noted the districts emphasis on “solid” instruction to the entire class along with breakout opportunities for students that don’t learn as quickly. He also mentioned the goal of improving literacy in the entire community.

“We’ve really set the goal to increase literacy not only in our school district but in our community. We have plans, only in the planning stage, of a family education center some day in Wasatch County. A big part of that will be allowing families to come to our center in the evening and learn to read; and learn reading strategies for the adults and for the children.”

Sweat says they are working to make sure that they continue to trend in the right direction.

“We’re concerned about having such a large jump in one years’ time. It’s like winning a big game sometimes there’s a little bit of a lull and we sit back and say ‘well, we’ve arrived.’ We’re working very hard not to do that. So, we have a long list of improvements that we’re continuing to make in the 2018-2019 school year.”