At the Wyoming Department of Education Embracing Literacy conference on July 20, Special Projects Advisor to The Windward Institute John J. Russell, EdD, gave a presentation, “Disrupting the Status Quo: Advancing Research-Based Practices,” to an audience of more than 500 attendees, including educators, administrators, and legislators on how they could improve literacy rates in Wyoming through changes in pre-service programs and certification. The state is reevaluating its reading curriculum and teaching models, as research shows significant room for improvement for students. The latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) worldwide ranking of average scores of math, science, and reading ranked the United States as 31st in the world for students’ scholastic performance. Meanwhile, The Nation’s Report Card indicated 59% of Wyoming fourth grade students were reading below the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) proficient level and 66% of Wyoming eighth grade students were reading below the NAEP proficient level.
In his presentation, Dr. Russell outlined six strategies for disrupting the educational status quo in Wyoming: clarifying terminology, establishing the components of scientifically-based reading programs, improving teacher preparation, strengthening licensing requirements, using data to drive decision making, and advocating the Science of Reading in all classrooms.
Dr. Russell was then invited by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow to meet with additional Wyoming educators on September 21 at the Wyoming Education Summit “Pursuing Excellence Together: Moving Forward.” He joined fellow speakers, including psychologist David Yeager and authors Frederick Hess and Pedro Noguera, to share their knowledge on education, leadership, and instruction in K-12 education.