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July 20, 2024 8:44 pm

Local News

State unveils plan to boost reading scores at eight Bibb County elementary schools

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Laura Corley, The Macon Newsroom

Full-time literacy coaches are set to be hired next school year at eight Bibb County elementary schools that are among the lowest-performing schools in the state for reading proficiency.

Literacy coaches work with principals and teachers to help them develop sound practices using research-proven, data-informed methods of instruction at schools struggling to raise student reading proficiency. Georgia Department of Education spokesperson Meghan Frick said the state is adopting Florida’s literacy coaching standards.

“The intent is to fund the coaches for three years, with the goal of having them placed in schools in time for the 2024-25 school year,” Frick wrote in an email to The Macon Newsroom. “The coaches will be hired by the schools, but we will provide a job description and the schools will sign assurances.”

Elementary schools selected for the literacy initiative in Bibb County include: Bernd, Bruce, Hartley, Ingram-Pye, Rosa Taylor, Southfield, Union and Williams. All but one of those schools were identified in January by the Georgia Department of Education as “CSI” schools, ones in need of “comprehensive support and improvement.”

The literacy coaches for the Bibb County School District are among 60 statewide that will be hired to work in 60 of the lowest-performing elementary schools across the state, the Georgia Department of Education announced in a news release Thursday.

Frick estimates the state will spend $30 million for literacy coaches to work in the schools for three years.

The literacy coaches are part of a broader effort by the state to retool its approach to English instruction and get more students reading at grade-level. The Georgia Board of Education adopted new English and language arts standards last May.

Last month, State Superintendent Richard Woods appointed J. Nicholas Philmon to spearhead the development of a statewide literacy coaching model. Philmon, who earned a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from Mercer University, works as an English language arts coordinator at Marietta City Schools. The literacy coaching model he will help implement is based on a similar program Mississippi used to increase reading scores among fourth graders.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email Corley_le@mercer.edu.

This story comes to the Macon Report through a reporting partnership with the Macon Newsroom.