New PK-5 Reading Program Supported by HRBT Foundation Grant

Literacy is an essential aspect of a child’s development that paves the way for a brighter future.

The Hudson City School District will soon be implementing a new reading program at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School called Common Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA). CKLA is a comprehensive English Language Arts program designed to teach skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

This program is partially funded by a donation from the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation.

Carl Florio, President of the HRBT Foundation, stated, “The members and I believe reading is very important and the most essential guide of school success. We are pleased to extend our long-standing partnership with the Hudson City School District.”

CKLA will replace the outdated Journeys reading program at MCSES, which was purchased more than 10 years ago just as the initial Common Core Learning Standards were introduced. Unlike Journeys, CKLA is better aligned with current learning standards and it revolves around evidence-based reading instruction.

“Over time, the teachers identified some instructional gaps in Journeys and started supplementing lessons with other resources,” said April Prestipino, Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement. “After 10 years it just became clear that a new series was needed entirely.”

A school-wide committee researched and compared several reading programs before unanimously deciding on CKLA.

“CKLA is more comprehensive,” said Prestipino. “We believe it will help our PK-5 teachers close the early reading gaps that exist with our younger students while also accelerating the comprehension, fluency and general literacy skills of older students.”

The CKLA series is based on the “science of reading,” which refers to the research that reading experts conduct on how we learn to read. New research about the science of reading indicates the need for a well-rounded reading series that fosters strong foundational skills as well as core knowledge grade-level content. For example, the CKLA series incorporates aspects of grade-level content such as Native Americans in fifth grade social studies curriculum.

“We fully expect a scaffolded improvement in reading ability as the program is used over time with elementary students,” said Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent of Schools. “We also expect an increase in new knowledge for the content areas of social studies and science since that is how the program is designed.”

“It goes above and beyond other reading programs by providing materials and explicit instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency,” said MCSES principal, Mark Brenneman. “The goal is to teach all our students to ‘crack the reading code’ with evidence-based reading instruction that includes a cumulative, content-based curriculum that meets the diverse needs of all our students.”

“We hope CKLA will serve as the backbone that will ensure our students have strong ELA skills throughout their educational careers,” Brenneman added.

The CKLA program will be purchased this school year and professional development for teachers and administrators will commence this spring for full program implementation beginning in the 2021-22 school year.