In January of this year, Hamilton City Schools announced its district received an ‘A’ on Ohio’s state report card in ‘K-3 literacy.’ Hamilton is one of just 10 districts to receive the state’s highest grade in reading.
Superintendent Tony Orr attributes Hamilton City School students’ high rate of success in reading and literacy skills to the training and ongoing support his district’s teachers receive from IMSE.
“…IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham program has become an essential component in our daily instruction to create a balanced literacy program in our district.”
—Kathy Theiss, Instructional Literacy Coach, Hamilton City School District
“Our teachers are better prepared to provide specific interventions to students by utilizing strategies obtained through the extensive training in Orton-Gillingham and in refresher sessions provided by IMSE. Students are learning to independently apply these strategies,” Orr told the Journal via email.
Since 2012, more than three hundred and sixty teachers in Kindergarten through Fourth Grade have been trained by IMSE in the Hamilton City School District in southwestern Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. All Title 1 and ESL teachers have also been trained in IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham method, Orr noted.
The 2015-2016 is the third school year the Ohio Department of Education has implemented the report card—which includes harder tests and new measurements of student performance. Typically, the state’s report card is issued in the fall; scores were late this year as new tests were rolled out in districts across the state.
The ‘K-3 literacy’ category charts how much progress students in grades K-3 who weren’t reading at grade level the year before have made on state standardized reading tests. Superintendent Orr tells the Journal Hamilton City Schools received a ‘B’ in this category for the 2013-2014 school year.
“Our teachers are better prepared to provide specific interventions to students by utilizing strategies obtained through the extensive training in Orton-Gillingham and in refresher sessions provided by IMSE.”
—Tony Orr, Superintendent, Hamilton City School District
IMSE trainer, Tiffany DeShano, works with educators in the Hamilton City School District. “The great thing about Hamilton City schools is that the teachers are very committed to mastering and using Orton-Gillingham in their classrooms. I’ve been to this district more than any other I’ve worked with and the dedication and enthusiasm of Hamilton City’s teaching staff just shows. It’s also helpful that all Hamilton City Schools are using IMSE’s assessments. That helps us better target and work on areas that need improvement across schools in the district,” Tiffany tells the Journal.
The partnership between Hamilton City Schools and IMSE began when District Literacy Coach, Kathy Theiss, attended IMSE’s 30-hour training in 2010. “[IMSE’s] Orton-Gillingham training provides the consistency in pedagogy and content for students and teachers that immerses each in beginning strategies so important for learning to read. Teachers believe the effectiveness of the program is that students are better able to strategically reason through their thought processes when learning to decode and encode while reading which will assist in developing their ability to comprehend what they read,” Kathy told the Journal via email.
Moreover, Kathy says, “While aligning a basal reading series and Orton-Gillingham has presented its challenges, IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham program has become an essential component in our daily instruction to create a balanced literacy program in our district.”
Hamilton City School District serves nearly 10,000 students in grades K-12 and is the 18th largest district, by enrollment, in the state.
“We are all very proud of the results of the state’s literacy report card. With the challenges teachers face every day in the classroom, this was a boost in the right direction for our teachers and students. We still look for ways to deliver good instruction and hope to continue in an upward path to good literacy instruction for our students,” Kathy says.