Update from the Superintendent - March 4, 2024

This segment continues a multi-part series around the Science of Reading, an approach being adopted by MSAD 51. Last week, I introduced the concept of a 'Reading Rope' whereby research suggests that students read using a blended approach of interwoven skills, including word recognition skills like phonics, decoding, and sight word recognition. Research around literacy acquisition now suggests that all children need practice with the alphabetic code along with meaningful engagement with books in order to become successful readers. We also know that children who struggle with reading beyond grade 3 are more likely to have broader academic needs as they get older. Understanding the brain research around reading is of critical importance to help our students be successful in school and in life.

This segment focuses on language comprehension and the skills that help readers become increasingly strategic in the way they connect with what they are reading. Comprehension begins long before children learn to read for themselves; it actually begins as they are learning to speak and use language, the basis for later reading development. Comprehension also begins formation as children are read to and use text cuing to help make meaning, such as pictures and voice intonation to process and connect words with their own construct of these words.

Comprehension of written words is developed through four main ways: background knowledge (text that reinforces and/or introduces students to content area learning); vocabulary (definition of words in order to inform the entirety of text); language structures (how words are arranged in text); and literacy knowledge (exposure to a variety of rich and meaningful text and genre). Language comprehension is our goal for all students as they progress as readers, and this can be attained by ensuring students reach automaticity with their literacy skills.

On a different note, I presented the 2024-25 recommended budget to the Board of Directors on March 4, which begins the public  process of deliberations around next year's budget. You can keep up-to-date on the budget process at https://www.msad51.org/apps/pages/budget.

Also on March 4, the Board approved the Equity Plan, which is a culmination of many years of conversations and work around equity in our school community. This plan seeks to:

  • define what equity means in MSAD #51; 
  • emphasize student voice and feedback; 
  • provide more staff training around equity-related topics; 
  • prioritize equity-related data reporting and response; and
  • envision equity as a continuous and adaptable process rather than a temporary or static one.