(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—At its meeting last night, the Albemarle County School Board received a recommendation from school division staff for a new reading curriculum for its kindergarten through fifth-grade students. The recommendation, HMH Into Reading Virginia, comes after a 2022 state law required all school divisions in the Commonwealth to improve literacy outcomes for students, beginning with a newly-adopted curriculum for the 2024-25 school year.
HMH Into Reading Virginia program information and materials are now available for public review and comment at the County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. Community members may review these resources between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on school holidays. Upon arrival, community members should check in with the third-floor receptionist. The board will vote on the recommendation at its February 8 business meeting.
This recommendation comes from an adoption committee made up of more than 60 Albemarle County Public Schools teachers, administrators, academic coaches, parents, and community partners from across the school division with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. They convened for the first time in September 2023 and subsequently vetted each state-approved program according to its quality, relevance and fit.
Additionally, the materials for these two programs were sent to all 15 of the division’s elementary schools for further review by teachers, staff, families, and community partners. The committee received responses from 85% of its teachers and heard from over 200 caregivers of ACPS students.
Of the recommendation, Assistant Superintendent Chandra Hayes explained, “The adoption committee focused on the importance of a rigorous evaluation of each program’s evidence-based track record. They paid particular attention to how well each program could be utilized by teachers to help students develop such skills as language comprehension, word recognition, and vocabulary, among others.”
The timing of this recommendation is of particular significance given the school division’s current desire to close achievement gaps among students. While results from the state’s most recent Standards of Learning tests showed that the overall pass rate in reading for the division was 74%, slightly above the state average, pass rates for Black and Hispanic students, students with disabilities, students from economically disadvantaged homes, and English Learners were lower.
Regarding the potential that HMH Into Reading Virginia has to improve outcomes for all students, Hayes said, “We were deliberate in our endeavor to be as open and inclusive as possible during the selection process of this new reading curriculum in order to ensure that all students, staff and families will be able to see themselves in the program. We can only meet our division’s hope of ending the predictive value of race, gender, class, and special capacities and our values of equity, excellence, family and community, and wellness if we reach every member of our schools’ communities. The adoption committee kept its attention centered on this at all times.”
When giving survey feedback, families and teachers cited such positive attributes of HMH Into Reading Virginia as its letters to family, which are written in 10 different languages, and the strong home and school partnership materials that it offers.
Once a reading curriculum has been approved by the school board, all programmatic materials will be procured and related professional learning delivered for instructional staff in time for the 2024-25 school year.
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Interim Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer