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NVUSD’s Journey: Transforming Education through the Science of Reading and LETRS


In the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD), we've undertaken a remarkable educational journey that began last year, fully in line with our Board of Education's second annual strategic goal: enhance reading and writing proficiency across our curriculum. At the core of this transformation lies a powerful concept known as the Science of Reading, a term that's gaining prominence among educators and students alike.

The Science of Reading isn't just another buzzword; according to Matt Manning, Director III of the Curriculum, Instruction, and English Learner Services for our elementary schools, “It represents a comprehensive body of interdisciplinary research. This research dives deep into the intricate process of how students acquire reading skills, offers insights into intervention strategies for those who face difficulties, and prescribes the most effective instructional methods for the majority of learners. In essence, it bridges the gap between theory and practice, ensuring that our approach to teaching reading is founded on evidence-based principles.”

At the heart of our transformative journey is the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program. But LETRS isn't just a program; it is a professional learning experience deeply rooted in the Science of Reading. It empowers educators and transforms the learning experience for our students.

Why did NVUSD choose LETRS? Simply put, it represents the gold standard in professional development linked to the Science of Reading. Matt Manning believes that “teachers are the catalysts for effective reading instruction; programs are mere tools in their capable hands.” He continues, “By investing in our educators and equipping them with research-backed strategies, we hold the potential to mitigate reading difficulties in the vast majority of students—research suggests that an astounding 95% of children can attain proficiency in reading with the right guidance.”

The professional learning experience is a two-year commitment for K-5 teachers and a one-year endeavor for administrators and Early Childhood educators, including those responsible for Transitional Kindergarten (TK). It's a comprehensive journey that encompasses diverse learning modalities, ranging from prescribed reading materials and online modules to face-to-face Saturday sessions, all culminating in the critical application of acquired knowledge in our classrooms. It's an immersive approach that ensures the knowledge we gain translates into tangible benefits for our students.

LTRS Training Cohort 2

As we continue investing in our educators and the Science of Reading, the future shines brightly for our students. Armed with knowledge, dedication, and LETRS as their guiding beacon, NVUSD educators are paving the way for a generation of skilled, confident readers who will excel in reading and writing across all facets of the curriculum.

Want to learn more about how this is being implemented, learn more in our September 21 Family Newsletter.