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ALLMemphis teams with SCS on Special Education Reading Services

ALLMemphis has partnered with Shelby County Schools (SCS) to apply its research-based, data-driven approach to reading instruction at seven elementary schools.

The nonprofit agency has trained 14 special education teachers in the ALLMemphis instruction model so that they can help their students learn phonics and word recognition and ultimately read at grade level.

“We are thrilled to partner with Shelby County Schools to share best practices in reading instruction and a targeted literacy approach and curriculum with special education teachers and their students,” said Dr. Krista Johnson, executive director of ALLMemphis.

“Our model works for all learners – particularly ones who have a high need for additional reading support.  Our method isn’t based on any assumptions about what students know.  Instead, we use data to determine where a student should be placed in our curriculum.  This helps teachers meet each student at the student’s instructional level, which has a significant positive impact on the student’s ability to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.”

Dr. Angela Whitelaw, SCS deputy superintendent of schools and academic support, said, “We are looking forward to this collaboration with ALLMemphis as we support the SCS 3rd Grade Commitment and the early literacy needs of our students.”

ALLMemphis was founded in 2017 to address inequity in access to language and literacy instruction.

“I’m excited about our partnership with ALLMemphis because the professional development and resources they will support our special education teachers with will help increase overall reading performance for students with disabilities while developing strong readers,” said Crystal Watts Peterson, principal at Vollentine Optional Elementary School, one of the participating SCS schools.

To date, ALLMemphis has trained 51 teachers, mentored 10 literacy coaches, and served 1,042 students in Title 1 public charter schools.  The special education pilot program is the agency’s first foray into SCS schools.  Other participating schools are Chimney Rock Elementary, Dexter Elementary, Gardenview Elementary, Lucy Elementary, Sea Isle Elementary and Snowden School.

“I am extremely excited for the upcoming partnership with ALLMemphis so that I can have the tools and training to best meet my students’ foundational literacy needs,” said Claudia Nell-Ward, special education chair at Snowden School.

“As a resource teacher, I see a very diverse group of learners who often have the interest and comprehension skills needed to keep up with their peers but are hindered by their inability to decode text. A systematic approach to phonics instruction is necessary for them to ‘crack the code,’ gain independence and begin to see themselves as readers.

“This program will allow me to reach their needs efficiently and effectively as one teacher meeting with many groups of readers.”

(For more information, visit ALLMemphis.org.)

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