The Georgia Department of Education is partnering with the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy (Rollins Center) – a program of the Atlanta Speech School – on an ambitious statewide initiative to improve literacy outcomes for students and train district and school leaders on the science of reading.
Ten school districts and three charter schools will form the first two-year literacy leadership cohort that will work to align professional learning, instructional coaching, and teaching practices to the science of reading through structured literacy. The participating districts and charter schools are: Colquitt County, Dooly County, Grady County, Lowndes County, Muscogee County, Pelham City, Seminole County, Thomas County, Valdosta City, the International Academy of Smyrna, The Kindezi Schools, and ZEST Preparatory Academy.
Additionally, the Georgia Literacy Academy – courses developed by the Rollins Center in partnership with GaDOE – will be available to all K-5 teachers and leaders in the state free of charge.
“It is our fundamental responsibility to ensure students learn to read, and then – for the rest of their lives – can read to learn,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “This partnership will strengthen early literacy instruction for students across the state of Georgia.”
More than 125 district and school leaders will participate in the leadership cohort and receive in-person coaching and facilitation, as well as virtual coaching and support, from Cox Campus and Rollins Center coaches over a two-year period. Meanwhile, the Georgia Literacy Academy’s first course is set to launch this month.
“When Governor Kemp first took office, he committed to ensuring that no Georgian’s potential is determined by their ZIP code or their county. Local and state organizations have been dedicated to changing outcomes for Georgia’s children for years, backed by philanthropic organizations investing in that future and experts refining practices based on what scientists have learned about how we read. Now we have legislators demanding action. Educators will now have what they need to impact their classrooms: scientifically proven practices and unwavering support from their districts,” said Dr. Ryan Lee-James, chief academic officer of the Atlanta Speech School and director of the Rollins Center. “In kindergarten through third grade alone, approximately 24,000 students will benefit from this work. This sets the tone for the state and puts legislation and science into action.”
The training that will be offered through the GaDOE/Rollins Center partnership is aligned to both HB 538, the Georgia Early Literacy Act, and SB 48 regarding dyslexia. The initiative builds on the Rollins Center’s successful collaboration with Marietta City Schools, which over the last two years has led to substantial improvements in literacy achievement across grade levels and student subgroups.
“The stars are aligned in Georgia around literacy,” said GaDOE Director of Literacy Amy Denty. “We are thrilled to implement this proven model of structured literacy coursework and coaching on a greater scale, extending its positive impact to districts, teachers, and students across the state.”
The Rollins Center – a program of the Atlanta Speech School – develops expertise with educators, system leaders, families, and advocates in the sciences of healthy brain development, language, and literacy. Cox Campus, the Center’s free, online learning community, offers accredited coursework, content, and community-building to educators, families, and healthcare providers.