SANTA FE — The Public Education Department (PED) is offering New Mexico elementary schools the opportunity to have classroom coaches available next fall to help teachers apply newly learned methods for teaching students how to read.
Optional coaching is offered to elementary schools as a follow-up to mandatory professional learning to prepare teachers to use Structured Literacy, an explicit, systematic and cumulative approach to reading and writing instruction based on the Science of Reading.
“Professional learning is an important part of teaching, but without coaching support, research shows there tends to be little classroom application of newly learned practices,” Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said. “Our goal is to strengthen our professional learning by providing coaches to support teachers in their classrooms.”
In summer 2020, the PED adopted the New Mexico Literacy Framework, which aligns reading instruction with principles and strategies that grew out of the Science of Reading, a body of academic research based on studies of the brain-reading connection. Structured Literacy applies those strategies in the classroom.
Since then, the department has been training elementary teachers in Structured Literacy. All first-grade teachers started the two-year, eight-unit training in the 2020-2021 school year; kindergarten and second-grade teachers began it in 2021-2022, and third-grade teachers will begin it in the coming school year. The goal is to have every reading teacher trained in Structured Literacy by January 2025.
As teachers complete training, the PED is offering them and their schools 3 coaching options:
- Schools that have begun to establish Structured Literacy practices were invited to apply to become a Structured Literacy Model School. The two or three model schools chosen will receive a coach supplied by the Public Education Department to support their teachers. The application deadline was April 22, and PED officials are now conducting site visits as part of the selection process. Model schools will also receive a $50,000 grant to support implementation of Structured Literacy.
- A school can apply by Thursday (May 5) to be a Literacy Support School to access support in implementing Structured Literacy. Administrators must ensure that at least half of staff members are willing to participate in coaching. The 20-30 Literacy Support Schools chosen will be supported by a regional coach. Literacy Support Schools will receive a $25,000 grant.
- A teacher (or other school-based employee) who is already an expert in Structured Literacy can apply by Thursday (May 5) to be a Literacy Leader with a commitment to coach two colleagues next year. The 200 or so Literacy Leaders chosen will be trained in the same coaching model as the coaches for the other opportunities. Literacy Leaders will receive a $2,000 stipend.
The optional coaching opportunities will be funded through an $11.5 million legislative appropriation to expand and support early literacy.
“We want all schools to strive to be a Literacy Support School or a Model School,” said director of the department’s Literacy and Humanities Bureau Severo Martinez. “Receiving this designation would be a badge of merit for the site, showing their commitment to literacy and fluent readers in every classroom within their school.
“Our ultimate goal is for all classroom instruction to reflect a structured literacy approach, which will then lead to an increase in student reading proficiency,” Martinez said.
“We hope to support teachers with the implementation of the research-based practices gained from their professional learning,” said Structured Literacy Program manager Sarah Martin. “Our coaches will work alongside teachers collaboratively to support the classroom practices that will impact student reading proficiency.”
Awardees will be announced by the end of the current school year to allow for planning for next year.