Newhall School District’s educators take our Online Elementary Reading Academy (OERA)
CORE’s Online Elementary Reading Academy (OERA) has been provided to hundreds of teachers, coaches, and school leaders over the past five years. Our OERA supports educators to learn how to support all students—including English learners and those with dyslexia—to become proficient readers.
Not only does participating in OERA help individual teachers learn effective standards-aligned and evidence-based reading practices, but it also helps teams of educators become more aligned in their approach to teaching reading. By having both teachers and school leaders go through OERA, the comprehensive approach to teaching reading is strengthened even further. When educators within the same school go through the program, they are able to use their knowledge to build a more cohesive approach to reading for their students.
Newhall School District in northeast Los Angeles County started its experience with OERA by having school leaders go through the program before teachers enrolled. Assistant Superintendent Dee Jamison and Director of Instruction, Assessment, and Accountability Kate Peattie were the first two staff members from Newhall to participate in OERA.
“We wanted to take it ourselves to see if we felt that it would really be worthwhile for our teachers. And it was amazing, it was incredibly well done,” said Peattie. “Even though it was asynchronous, there was so much conversation going back and forth on the discussion boards and so much really great, personalized feedback from the facilitator.”
After this initial experience, Newhall decided to bring on all its administrators, including principals, assistant principals, and district administrators, to take the program. For those who had never taught primary grades before, this was a particularly enriching experience.
“It was really helpful for administrators to know what they were looking for when they walked into a primary classroom. Getting that deeper understanding of how to teach foundational skills to teachers and students was really helpful,” Peattie explained.
Once all the administrators had gone through the program, Newhall then began to enroll teachers in OERA. To incentivize participation, Newhall offered teachers a generous stipend if they completed the course. During the year, about 200 teachers in Newhall went through OERA. And as new teachers join the district or when teachers move from upper grades to primary grades, Newhall encourages them to take OERA as well.
Peattie heard from teachers that they appreciated both the theoretical background and the practical foundations that were presented through OERA. By watching model lesson videos and getting introduced to a variety of tools and resources for teaching reading, teachers received ideas that they could take back to their own classrooms. Being able to complete the materials online and at their own speed also helped teachers fit the program into their busy schedules.
Realizing the importance of continued professional development around reading, one of Newhall’s instructional coaches put together a workshop called Explicit Phonics. Newhall encourages teachers to go through OERA, where they get a strong background in the essential components of evidence-based reading instruction, and then take the Explicit Phonics course to apply and extend their understanding.
Through their experience with OERA and continued work around reading instruction, Newhall has seen improvements in both its students’ reading skills and teachers’ confidence in teaching reading.
Peattie reflected on the power of teachers aligning on reading instruction and having a coherent language that they could use when talking about teaching reading: “We have veteran teachers and brand-new teachers, like most districts. After going through OERA, we heard veteran primary teachers say, ‘I wish I had known this’ or ‘I never thought I should implement this piece.’ It was really eye-opening to hear that,” said Peattie. “We know that teachers want to do the best job they can. They are in it, because they love kids, and they want kids to learn. It was really empowering for our teachers to have the opportunity to dive deeply into effective strategies to teach foundational reading. It was exciting to hear that many felt more confident in addressing the needs of all students after completing the CORE course.”
To enroll your school or district in the OERA, go to corelearn.com/online-elementary-reading-academy/ or get in touch with us directly!