Schools roll out direct instruction training

By Johnny Jackson

As a part of its K-3 initiative, Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) has rolled out instructional training in the county's broadest application of Direct Instruction Training.

For almost a fortnight, continuing into Friday, hundreds of primary educators in the county received training at Clayton State University from J/P Associates, a direct instructional staff development company.

"These are paraprofessionals, some first-grade teachers, special education teachers, Early Initiative Program teachers, literacy coaches, and building school administrators were chosen by position to learn ways to help students needing academic assistance," said Donna Marks, Clayton County Teaching and Learning Coordinator.

The training workshop is a part of the county's effort to increase rigor in instruction to children in Clayton County classrooms, said school spokesman Charles White. He said the training was conceptualized to provide students with higher levels of learning and instruction, specifically in reading.

"It's the only program that worked for all of my students," said Sandy Leonard, J/P Associates School Improvement Specialist and 22-year veteran teacher. "It works with gifted kids, and it works with special needs kids."

Marks said nearly 500 teachers were split into two sections, where each section participated in a four-day instructional workshop over the last two weeks, learning teaching techniques to help improve students reading skills.

She directed to Rochelle Taylor of River's Edge Elementary and Scholanda Scott of Church Street Elementary. Taylor and Scott are literacy coaches who attended the four-day training session.

"So, far this is our first day; and it's been informative," Scott said Tuesday. "We're taking back a better understanding of what we need to do in order to help students in Clayton County. We're taking back more than theory, but the ability to apply what we're learning to help teachers effectively."

"It's important to mention the program is research-based," Taylor said. "It's explicit and systematic scientific-based reading research."

"That's one of the advantages," Scott said, explaining the four-day workshop. "All our teachers are getting the same consistent, systematic, and explicit instructional training."

Taylor and Scott said they look forward to challenges and achievements that will be gained by teachers and students.

"We expect to see continued improvements in our reading test scores," Taylor said. "Clayton County has stepped out on the cutting edge of education. (Superintendent) Dr. Pulliam is to be commended for her vision; she's maximizing the quality of education in Clayton County."