In the 2023-24 school year, Kyrene elementary teachers will embark on a learning journey together to study the research about how the brain learns to read and examine classroom literacy practices utilizing the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program. LETRS is a comprehensive professional learning program designed to provide early childhood and elementary educators, as well as administrators, with deep knowledge to be literacy and language experts in the science of reading.
The decision to begin an in depth study of literacy originated from two coinciding events, one of which will directly impact teachers:
- K-5 Literacy Endorsement. It is Kyrene’s intention that LETRS will support teachers with a recently revised Arizona Statute that requires all K-5 teachers to earn a Literacy Endorsement by 2028. To earn the endorsement, teachers must complete 90 hours of professional development about the science of reading, phonics instruction, reading instruction, interventions, and signs of dyslexia. Completion of LETRS fulfills the coursework requirement for the Literacy Endorsement and will provide teachers with a deep understanding of the processes and research behind learning to read. Additionally, teachers must receive a passing score on the Foundations of Reading exam.
- Multi-year strategic plan. One of the pillars of the Kyrene School District (KSD) strategic plan is a focus on early literacy with a desire for all students to achieve proficiency in reading by 3rd grade. One strategy to achieve this goal is for all elementary grade teachers of reading to complete LETRS training.
Timeline for completion
Completion of LETRS will occur over a two-year period. Teachers will complete units 1 & 2 during the first semester of 2023-24 and units 3 & 4 during the second semester. Completion of the units consists of reading text chapters followed by an interactive online module, each of which will require approximately one to two hours. In the 2023-24 school year, two district professional development days will be dedicated to discussing the key learning objectives from the modules and applying learning to Kyrene’s reading curriculum. Completion of units 5-8 will occur during the 2024-25 school year. After completion of all LETRS units, teachers will be prepared to take the Foundations of Reading exam, the final requirement for the literacy endorsement.
I will be retired before the requirement takes effect. Do I need to participate?
Kyrene strongly encourages all teachers to complete the LETRS professional development program to provide common language and understanding of literacy instruction. All teachers will be required to participate in the two district PD days.
My school departmentalizes for math and I do not teach literacy. Do I need to participate?
Due to the changing nature of teaching assignments, Kyrene strongly encourages all teachers to complete the LETRS professional development program. It will be a requirement for certification, regardless of teaching assignment.
Do special education teachers, gifted resource teachers, dual language Spanish teachers and AI/SEI need to complete LETRS?
Yes, all teachers with an elementary certificate will complete the training.
What about special area teachers, do they need to complete LETRS?
Teachers who have an elementary teaching certificate will need the literacy endorsement. Those with secondary certificates will not but are welcome to do so. Media specialists are highly encouraged to complete the LETRS training.
Can I take two college courses or other coursework to fulfill the coursework requirements instead of completing LETRS?
Taking college coursework is an option for completing the coursework requirement. However, the teacher will still participate in the district PD days dedicated to the application of LETRS content.
How long is my LETRS training license active?
The LETRS training license is active for two years, and LETRS professional development must be completed within those two years.
Why do I have to complete LETRS by the end of the 24-25 school year if the state is giving us until 2028 to get the endorsement?
Lexia, the company that produces the training, gives you two years to use licenses. Kyrene was awarded a grant that will fully cover the cost of the LETRS training licenses for the two year period.
What if I do not perform well on the LETRS coursework?
Regardless of how you perform throughout LETRS, everyone earns a certificate for each unit completed. A score of 80% or above on the end of unit assessment will award you a Certificate of Mastery. Please keep in mind that LETRS is the coursework that prepares educators for the Foundations of Reading exam. ADE has created an informational video about the assessment that can be accessed here.
I have a Reading Endorsement. Do I still need to get the K-5 Literacy Endorsement?Those with Reading Endorsements are exempt from the K-5 Literacy Endorsement but are encouraged to participate in LETRS as the coursework is high quality and updated with the latest research in how students learn to read. If you decide not to participate, you would still need to participate in the District Professional Development days, where the focus is on implementing the knowledge from LETRS with core curriculum.I do not currently have a Reading Endorsement but I believe I meet the requirements for one. What can I do?Even if you are certain that you have the coursework that is required of a Reading Endorsement, you would still need to complete the paperwork with ADE to get it on your certification. You can visit this webpage to check to see if you have met the requirements: https://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/reading-endorsement-k-8
I have been trained in Spalding. Does this count towards the Literacy Endorsement course requirement?
At this time, no. As of August 2023, Spalding has not submitted to be on the K-5 Literacy Endorsement list. Any updates to the approved training list will be posted on the ADE K-5 Literacy Endorsement webpage.
Do I have to submit my Bridge to Practice activities?
It is expected to complete Bridge to Practice activities as part of LETRS training, but they are not collected by the District.