BY CARRIE HODOUSEK
CHARLESTON — More than 650 educators from across West Virginia are in Charleston this week for a three-day conference focused on improving reading and math proficiency among K-3 students.
The INVEST 2023 Conference, hosted by the state Department of Education, is taking place at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center through Thursday.
Christy Schwartz, coordinator Pre K-12 Academic Support, lead a science of reading presentation Tuesday, something she hopes teachers will use in their classrooms.
“I’m hoping that they’re energized and excited for the fall and that they come away with some knowledge of how they can tweak their existing lessons and their existing curriculum to make it more aligned with their research and what works,” she said.
The conference focuses on several initiatives including the department’s Ready, Read, Write campaign that provides information to teaches about how the brain learns to become a proficient reader and writer.
The Third Grade Success Act, passed by the Legislature earlier this year, requires counties to adopt instructional materials that align with the science of reading. K-3 teachers, classroom assistants and others will also receive training.
Schwartz said students need to be able to better understand what they read by fourth grade.
“Students really need to learn those decoding skills so that they can decode what they read with automaticity so that they aren’t struggling to sound out every word and they can read smoothly and fluently,” she said. “We also have to couple that with building a lot of knowledge and vocabulary about the world, about words and how things work.”
The effort is meant to get ahead of the problem when it comes to low reading scores, Schwartz said.
“It’s to provide intervention for students who are struggling with decoding or with the knowledge and vocabulary piece, but it’s also to prevent that to be able to use aligned instruction from the beginning so that that doesn’t happen to students in the future,” she said.
In addition to reading initiatives, the department also has presentations about the UNITe with Numeracy initiative focused on math proficiency by providing resources for educators, families/guardians and students.
The WVDE will hold a second INVEST Conference July 25-27 at the Marriott Hotel at Waterfront Place in Morgantown.