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Spotlight North Carolina: Phonics instruction takes root

elementary school student smiling and engaged in classroom lesson


District Snapshot:

  • ~5500 students in Edgecombe County Public Schools
  • 70% minority enrollment district-wide
  • 69% of students participate in the free and reduced lunch program
  • 4.9% of students are ELL

Coker-Wimberly Elementary Snapshot:

  • ~230 students
  • 93% minority enrollment
  • 99% of student body is considered economically disadvantaged

Edgecombe County Public Schools are located in Tarboro—approximately an hour and 15 minutes east of Raleigh, in rural Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Lutashia Dove, the elementary and preschool director for the district, has been there about 18 months. With a passion for literacy and a strong conviction that every child deserves access to quality reading instruction and quality literature, she has taken this mission and made it top priority for her schools.

With just under 6000 students prek-12, there are six elementary schools in Edgecombe County. Currently, only one of them is piloting 95 Percent Group materials: Coker-Wimberly, a pre-K-5 elementary school that prides itself on being part of the Innovation Zone of the North Side, partnering in innovation with their feeder schools, Phillips Middle and North Edgecombe High School as part of a national Opportunity Culture movement; their goals being high growth and higher-order thinking skills for all students.

In September of 2023, the teaching and learning team at Coker-Wimberly implemented 95 Phonics Core Program®,  a Tier 1, core phonics program. In January of 2024, they followed with Tier 2 intervention programs including 95 Phonics Level Library™, and 95 Phonics Chip Kits™.

The results? In Dr. Dove’s words, “almost a year later with 95 Percent Group and I’m tickled about it, and hoping that we can continue to move forward with it in more schools.”

In search of a stronger foundational program

When Dr. Dove began to dig deep in the reading data, she knew they had to do something different for foundational skills—both for students and teachers. Dr. Dove believes that what they were using previously wasn’t strong enough for teachers or for students. She asked around, looked at data, and spoke to teachers: “Are you seeing students grow?”

Then, Dove attended a conference where she saw a representative from 95 Percent Group speak about the resources they offer. “It makes sense,” she said. “It’s aligned with the science of reading. This is how children begin reading. This is what we’re missing.”

“Teacher voice is essential. When I survey my teachers and ask them how things are going, or what challenges they are having, the feedback I’ve gotten is all positive. Student engagement has been a highlight for them: the finger stretching and the interactive presentation files, these features keep our students engaged and excited about learning to read, and what it takes to learn to read,” said Latisha Hendricks, literacy coach, Coker-Wimberly Elementary School.

Access the full story now: What you’ll learn

Are you ready for more insights on how an entire district is growing with an aligned phonics program across instructional tiers. Download the full story and learn:

  • Why it’s essential to have literacy curriculum thats aligned with the science of reading
  • The importance of a step-by-step implementation plan for ensuring instructional fidelity
  • How the embedded professional learning and coaching helped teachers fully understand each of the components and pacing of instruction

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