Letters to the Editor, March 5

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SCS recognized for reading achievement

EDITOR: Sonoma Charter School was recognized recently for reading achievement by the American Reading Company (ARC) at its recent West Coast Equity Conference. American Reading Company is the publisher of English language arts curriculum developed in conjunction with Columbia University.

Sonoma Charter earned the distinction for dramatically improved student reading achievement!

Results are based on the STAR Reading Assessment. SCS measures student growth using an independent measure called STAR Reading Assessment from Renaissance Learning Company. Accelerated growth is defined as Independent Reading Level (IRL) growth of one full year or more in only four months and achieving an 80 percent or higher student growth percentile (SGP) on STAR.

The Charter School’s student progress results on STAR were outstanding:

40 percent of SCS students in grades 1 through 8 achieved accelerated growth in four months

81 percent of SCS students demonstrated average, above average or accelerated average growth

47 percent of students in grades 1 through 3 achieved accelerated growth in four months

87 percent of students in grades 1 through 3 demonstrated average, above average or accelerated growth

Less than 8 percent of SCS students in grades 1 through 3 demonstrated below average growth in this four-month period!

According to Deena Reyes, reading and literacy specialist at SCS, “most of our students, regardless of their grade, are growing at a rate that exceeds typical expectations.”

She added, “Our STEP Up Reading Program has transformed our school community. Current results show that students are not only catching up… but they are exceeding growth expectations in both reading and writing.”

The results show that the highest achievers demonstrating the most growth were English learners, special education students and high-level readers.

The following practices were key to this SCS success:

Successful implementation of enhanced and balanced-literacy curriculum

Successful buy in from staff/teachers

Successful use of adaptive technology using iPads and Lexia

Successful use of data analysis through adaptive technology

Successful individually paced learning classroom structure

Successful instructional coaching and professional development

Universal access to books and the implementation of regular book reading at home and at school

Use of classroom teaching assistants to engage students

With all the legitimate concern with literacy issues in public education, it is refreshing to recognize and acknowledge the outstanding teaching staff and their work at the Sonoma Charter School. The focus on improved literacy has been led by Marc Elin, the SCS Director, and the reading coach and specialist, Deena Reyes! Exceptional work and progress in a very short time!

Sonoma Charter School is a tuition free public school that accepts students based on a lottery system. Applications are being accepted currently for the next calendar school year.

Gary and Marcia Nelson

Sonoma Valley

All are welcome; no exceptions

EDITOR: The church has been a place of hope for people, where they can find love and inspiration in the midst of darkness in their lives. It has also been a source of pain for many who have felt excluded or ostracized from sacred communities. This week you may have heard in the news that another painful decision was made. The global United Methodist Church’s decision-making body failed to love and fully include LGBTQIA-plus people, recognize their gifts in the church, maintain unity in the midst of diversity, and to live out the Gospel mandate to seek justice and pursue peace. This has been heartbreaking to many across the globe. Throughout its history, the United Methodist Church has been dedicated to justice, helping the oppressed, and united as a global church to make a difference in the world.

Sonoma United Methodist Church will continue to be welcoming to people of all backgrounds, ages, races, sexual orientation, ability, gender and so much more. You are loved, no matter who you are. We are a welcoming and affirming congregation with hearts, minds, and doors open to all people who are willing to celebrate the diversity of our creation and share our in spiritual journeys. We marry same-sex couples, choose to support LGBT people for ordination, and we support God’s grace for and call in the life of all people. We simply live out who we feel that God called us to be as Christians.

We will be worshiping as United Methodists as usual every Sunday at 10 a.m. and all are welcome at 109 Patten St., by the Shell station. All are welcome, no exceptions. If you have questions, are seeking answers, or are experiencing pain, you can find a community here.

Pastors Emily and Jacey Pickens-Jones

Sonoma United Methodist Church

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