New science-based program is implemented in Joplin School District

JOPLIN, Mo. – You may remember “See Spot Run” as a crucial step in learning to read.
But the Joplin School District is moving to a new approach, focusing on science and how young brains make the literacy connection.

It’s called “LETRS,” which stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling.

“Kids, how they learn, how their brain works,” said Melissa Kendall, McKinley Elementary.

Then using that to help them make the connection reading. That’s the goal of the LETRS program.

“They own it, it’s not memorization. It’s not – oh, it has to be this way – it’s true ownership of their ability,” said Kendall.

The science-based approach means teachers start with the sounds of words and how they go together. Students are listening for syllables and compound words.

“They will light up when they get a concept – you can just see it.”

The Joplin School District is training facilitators at each elementary school. Once that’s in place, those facilitators will pass on what they know to others on campus.

“Teachers are the most essential factor inside our classrooms. And so our teachers providing direct, explicit instruction to our students in the world of reading is critically important to us moving forward academically,” said Sarah Mwangi, Joplin Schools Assistant Superintendent.

The end goal is improvement in student reading… and what comes next.

“That goes into all other subject areas, the ability to read and write effectively is critically important for our students and their future. And so the more we can gain knowledge, and we can implement the how we fully anticipate that our scores will continue to rise and that our students will be extremely successful,” added Mwangi.

THE “LETRS” Program focuses primarily on kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade. It can also apply to struggling readers in 4th and 5th grade, and potentially even special needs students in high school.

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