Testimony of Dana Carter to the Board of Education, October 7, 2021
4.8% of English Language Learners in High School scored at or above benchmarks on their 2020-2021 Star Assessment which means that 95.2% didn’t receive the literacy skills needed in order to succeed and thrive in High School and beyond. Staying in line with the high school data, 20 % of Black students and 18 % of Latino students scored at or above benchmarks on this same assessment which means that 80% of Black students and 82% of Latino students didn’t receive the literacy skills needed in order to succeed and thrive in High School and beyond. The percentage of White students who are at or above grade level on the Star Assessment is double the amount for Black and Latino Students… 47%. Addressing the Literacy concerns of School District of Philadelphia students is an urgent matter of Racial and Social Justice and failure to address this issue will have and is having a long-term negative impact on the overall quality of life in Philadelphia.
Literacy concerns in high school begin in elementary school. I had the opportunity to view the new ELA curriculum during a summer focus group and here are my recommendations:
- Immediately discontinue the use of this program. There are no grade-level readers for the children at all, and the books being used for reference lack diversity.
- Allow teachers to use whatever curriculum tools they already have in order to accomplish the necessary literacy goals
- Invest in quality professional development to give teachers support in teaching foundational reading and math skills instead of millions on curriculum. Make your teachers the experts.
- Move towards a skills-based grading system for PreK-4 students so areas of support in Literacy and Math are more clearly defined and child-specific on report cards.