How one school scaled up science of reading professional development

Kara Arundel:

In 2018-19, the first year that Lori Webster was director of Mountain Mahogany Community School, the previous school year’s data showed only 32% of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading, she said.

To improve reading proficiency rates, the K-8 public charter school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “started very small,” Webster said. 

She hired Alexandra Wilcox, a parent at the school, as a reading interventionist, who became trained in using science of reading approaches, which explicitly teaches students the connections between letters and sounds. 

As Wilcox started using those approaches with the youngest students in grades K-2, other teachers became interested in the science of reading training. The school also switched its reading and writing curricula, altered its school schedule and changed instructional routines in classrooms — all to support the focus on improved literacy.

The efforts are producing results. In 2022, 52% of students grades 3-8 tested proficient in reading. About 230 students attend the K-8 school.