At Beaver Run, the staff recognized the urgency of equipping their students with the essential skills needed for a lifetime of successful reading. The Science of Reading is more than just a set of principles; it is a paradigm shift in how educators approach teaching children to read. Grant opportunities such as Maryland Leads are just one-way schools are strategically directing resources to support educators.

The Science of Reading: Turning Research into Results

The Science of Reading is a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to teaching and learning literacy skills, grounded in a deep understanding of the cognitive, linguistic, and developmental processes involved in reading. Unlike traditional reading instruction methods, the Science of Reading draws on a wealth of research to inform instructional practices that are proven to be effective in promoting literacy. Key components of this approach include explicit phonics instruction, structured literacy approaches, direct vocabulary instruction, and comprehension strategies. 

Recent advances in technology and a greater understanding of neurobiology have allowed researchers and practitioners who work with typical and struggling readers to understand how reading develops in the brain and the skills that contribute to proficient reading. By grounding reading instruction in the Science of Reading, educators can make informed decisions about instructional methods and materials that are most likely to support students’ reading development to help them become proficient readers.

Beaver Run: Revamping Reading Instruction

Beaver Run Elementary stands out as a testament to the success achievable through the Science of Reading. The school has witnessed remarkable progress in literacy outcomes, underscoring the effectiveness of this pedagogical approach. The cornerstone of Beaver Run’s success lies in its unwavering commitment to consistency and explicit teaching. Through comprehensive training programs, educators at Beaver Run ensure that every student receives instruction firmly grounded in the science of reading, fostering an equitable learning environment. 

“Since the program has been implemented, we have seen a more positive attitude towards reading on the students’ side. We have also seen more confidence in instruction with the teachers.” — Curtis Twilley, Principal at Beaver Run Elementary

Data-Driven Intervention

In analyzing I-Ready testing data, Beaver Run identified a deficit in phonological awareness. Students struggled to manipulate sounds, leading to the implementation of the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum. This initiative involved 10 to 15 minutes of daily practice, focusing on listening to sounds without any visual aid. The explicit teaching from Heggerty’s program proved instrumental, with students gradually overcoming challenges and showing growth. 

“…one strand by itself is not very strong. But then you incorporate more strands together, woven together, and that’s when you get the tight rope… So, the different strands, you know, background, knowledge, vocabulary, decoding, verbal reasoning, all of those connected together is what is what’s going to make our readers stronger or students stronger.” — Ashley Johnson, Teacher at Beaver Run Elementary

2022-2023 Beaver Run Literacy Data*

Students two or more grades below reading level was reduced from 113 students in the Fall 2022 to 39 in the Spring 2023*.

*Based on 22-23 Schoolwide I-Ready Assessment Data

22% of 2022-23 grade 1 students moved into a higher band with 48% being on or above reading level on the end of year assessment.

*Statistics provided by Beaver Run Elementary School

The triumph at Beaver Run is not solely attributed to the adoption of a singular program; rather, it involves a synergistic combination of scientifically grounded approaches. The integration of multiple programs ensures the comprehensive coverage of essential literacy skills, contributing to the holistic development of students. Additionally, the school’s emphasis on maintaining manageable class sizes allows for more personalized instruction, enabling teachers to effectively address individual student needs.

Empowering Education through Maryland Leads

Beaver Run Elementary has embraced the Maryland Leads grant program as a catalyst for their literacy transformation. This grant, designed to accelerate and fortify the Science of Reading strategy, exemplifies the state’s commitment to evidence-based instruction. It provides schools with targeted funding to address gaps and enhance existing initiatives, ensuring that every student has access to high-quality literacy education.

The Maryland Leads grant, addressing pandemic-induced educational challenges, focuses on accelerating student learning and reducing achievement gaps. Encompassing seven high-leverage strategies, with an allocation of nearly $55 million, the program significantly prioritizes the Science of Reading.

As a transformative force in Maryland’s education landscape, the Maryland Leads grant, with a distinct emphasis on the Science of Reading, equips educators to enhance literacy outcomes across the state, aligning with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

Maryland Leads focuses on accelerating student learning and prioritizes the Science of Reading.

Transforming Maryland: Going From Learning to Read to Reading to Learn

Maryland’s Strategic Plan for education underscores the pivotal role of literacy through its “Ready to Read” priority, reflecting a commitment to ensuring that every student not only learns to read but also develops proficiency to read for comprehension and knowledge acquisition. The development and mastery of early literacy skills are a strong predictor of later school reading and math achievement.

Educators are witnessing notable improvements in student achievement, as statewide proficiency rates in English Language Arts (ELA) have reached their highest point in nearly a decade for the school year 2022-2023*. A standout example is the literacy proficiency rate for third-grade students, which has reached a nine-year high of 48%. These figures represent more than just statistics; they reflect the success stories of individual children. For third graders, achieving and sustaining proficiency in literacy marks a significant milestone in their journey from learning to read to reading to learn.

As Beaver Run Elementary continues to thrive with the Science of Reading, it stands as a model for educational institutions aspiring to enhance their literacy programs. The success achieved through a commitment to systematic, evidence-based instruction, combined with the catalytic support of initiatives like Maryland Leads, paints a promising picture for the future of literacy education in Maryland. The transformative impact of the Science of Reading is not merely theoretical but a practical and replicable framework for fostering a generation of proficient readers.

*Based on 2022-2023 MCAP data.

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