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Our Champion Faculty and Staff Received Special Recognition

Central Elementary School has been named a “Science of Reading Spotlight School” by the Alabama Department of Education, one of only 12 schools in the state to get the designation.

"Our teachers are on the front lines every day making sure our boys and girls are well-prepared at CES," said Central Elementary Principal Jerry Collins. "Our focus at Central Elementary is to be intentional and supportive to our students 100% of the time. We have seen tremendous academic growth this year.

In the fall of 2021, 15% of CES kindergarten students were proficient in reading. By the spring of 2022, over 74% of kindergarten students scored proficiency, Collins said.

"We contribute this success to our teachers in addition to SOR," Collins added. "With the Science of Reading being our guide, the sky is the limit for us."

According to the state, the recognition highlights schools and systems which take steps to improve read proficiency for students in kindergarten through third grade, and take steps to ensure students are reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The recognized schools also demonstrate a commitment to components listed in the Alabama Literacy Act and utilize explicit, systematic, and differentiated reading instruction and interventions with extensive opportunities for practice, based on student needs.

Leadership in the “spotlight” schools also worked alongside the school’s local reading specialists and teachers to deepen their understanding of the science of reading by participating in professional learning. Three teachers at Central Elementary have completed the "science of reading" process and all others are in either year one or two of the training, Collins said.

The systems and schools recognized also utilize data to monitor individual student reading progress, make necessary instructional adjustments, and utilize additional instructional opportunities such as Tier III reading intervention, summer reading camp, and before/after-school tutoring.

Despite the tough times during the pandemic, this honor recognizes the perseverance of Central Elementary and its focus on student learning, said Dr. James Pope, Deputy Superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools.

“This recognition speaks to the dedication and hard work that Dr. Jerry Collins, the faculty, and staff of Central Elementary School has done over the past two years,” Pope said. “Under Dr. Mike Daria's leadership, the Science of Reading has been the focus in Tuscaloosa City Schools, and we have aligned our practices to ensure that all students are reading before third grade. Having a leader such as Dr. Collins has made this path much easier.”

Support from the Alabama Reading Initiative has been instrumental in TCS Reading Before Third Grade Initiative, Pope said.

“The students and staff of CES deserve this honor as a Science of Reading Spotlight School and the Tuscaloosa City Schools System gives them a round of applause,” Pope added.

Central Elementary was the only school in the Tuscaloosa City Schools to be named a “Science of Reading Spotlight School” by the state. Eleven other schools were recognized, including Russellville Elementary (Russellville City), Hackleburg.

Elementary (Marion County), Fyffe High School (Dekalb County), Central Elementary School (Tuscaloosa City), University Charter (University Charter), Center Point Elementary School (Jefferson County), Glencoe Elementary School (Etowah County), Sophia P. Kingston (Selma City), Dadeville Elementary (Tallapoosa County), Wetumpka Elementary (Elmore County), Elsanor Elementary (Baldwin County) and Ariton School (Dale County). Cullman City Schools and Shelby County Schools were the two districts recognized.