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Park City School District to adopt new literacy program for K-3 students

A kindergarten teacher helps a student.
Rich Pedroncelli
A kindergarten teacher helps a student.

The Park City School District is updating the way it teaches early elementary students to read.

About 60% of third graders in the Park City School District were reading at grade level by the end of the 2022-2023 school year. That’s according to Stacey Briggs, the district’s teaching and learning director. She said that’s compared to 46% statewide. Just under 80% of the district’s students in Kindergarten to third grade were on track to reach grade-level standards.

But the Park City School District said it’s not enough. The goal is to have 90% of third graders reach reading proficiency by 2028. So, the district is updating its teaching materials to the 2023 English Language Arts standards. The current curriculum was adopted in 2016. The new materials focus on decoding and language comprehension to ensure students understand what they read.

Katie McGinn is the district’s English Language Arts literacy specialist. She said decoding is when kids look for sound syllables to identify words.

“Short vowels, long vowels, closed syllables, putting that all together to read words and spell words,” she said.

To help students decode, the district has proposed the 95 Percent Group’s literacy program focusing on word recognition through phonics.

“We're excited because it will allow us to personalize so that each student is making the progress needed to be successful readers,” McGinn said.

For language comprehension, the district will use a program called Wit & Wisdom with lessons on vocabulary, syntax, language structure, background knowledge and verbal reasoning.

Briggs said both programs help teachers monitor students’ literacy progress and allow for adjustments as needed. Both also support students who learned English as a second language. These programs will be in addition to the existing specialized instruction for all ESL students.

Parents can provide feedback on the new literacy programs through a survey until May 10. The district will also host webinars for the community to learn about the changes April 23 and April 30.