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UCDSB Invests in Science of Reading
UCDSB Invests in Science of Reading to Build Literacy Skills
Posted on 12/20/2022

In response to the findings of the Ontario Human Rights Commission Right to Read Report, which was released in early 2022, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) is making significant changes and investments in how reading is taught in our school district.

The Right to Read report found that the cueing system, which is part of the current Ontario curriculum and taught in schools as part of balanced literacy, is not scientifically valid. Research has shown that the cueing system encourages guessing and memorization rather than teaching students reading strategies. Research also showed that students need explicit instruction in phonological awareness and phonics to read and write effectively.

The UCDSB has a goal to ensure 90 per cent of students can read, write, and demonstrate number sense and operations at grade-level. While literacy and math have always been the fundamentals of classroom learning, improving math skills had been a focus for several years, as that was the focus of Ministry of Education funding.

group photo of studentsIn the 2019-2020 school year, the UCDSB started using the Science of Reading as a foundation. This is an approach that focuses on evidence-based reading instruction practices that teach the acquisition of language, and phonological and phonemic awareness.

At the Dec. 14, 2022 Board of Trustees meeting, Director of Education Ron Ferguson formalized this practice and committed to a district-wide focus on reading by adding a fifth goal to the Director’s Work Plan. This plan is a strategic plan that guides the work of the district.

“As a school district, our primary objective is to provide all students with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to be successful in life,” says Ferguson. “Knowing how to read is a big part of that and adapting our ways of teaching as new research comes to the forefront is critical. Our team has an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of all students and that includes understanding and implementing scientific research pertaining to reading and how students learn to read.”

students using blending boardsAs part of that, here are some of the key actions the UCDSB will be taking:

  • Expand the Power Up 2 Program, which will include hiring additional special education teachers to support students;
  • Purchase resources for schools that are in alignment with the Science of Reading;
  • Provide ongoing professional development for staff on instructional practices built on the Science of Reading; and
  • Collect and analyze district-wide data to track progress and evaluate effective strategies.

For media inquiries, please contact:  

April Scott-Clarke
Manager of Communications
Upper Canada District School Board
[email protected]

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