FORWARD MATTERS - The Newsletter of Guilford County PAGE


Newsletter - August 2016

Advocacy Update:
GCS American Reading Company (ARC) Balanced Literacy Program


On July 20, 2016, members of your Guilford County PAGE board (Holly Stewart, President; Michelle Himmelman, Vice President; and Jessica Hortman, Advocacy Chair) met with Guilford County Schools’ (GCS) Chief Academic Officer Dr. Hardy and her colleagues, Dr. Oakley and Ms. Jones, to discuss the ARC balanced literacy program.

We understand the ARC program is now optional for the 2016-2017 school year. To learn if your student’s school is moving forward with ARC, we urge you to contact your school directly.

PAGE Position: Continued Reservations About ARC
As a result of the current unknowns, the Guilford County PAGE board has continued reservations about ARC’s appropriateness for the gifted population we represent. In particular, customized curricula are still in development, and we have not been given an opportunity to review any materials, including specific modifications for gifted learners, as we have requested. Also, we continue to be concerned about the lack of third-party efficacy research, the potential downside of such a rushed implementation, and the inadequate time available to properly train and prepare educators.

Updates Regarding ARC’s Impact on Academically Gifted (AG) Programs

Q: How will ARC impact AG elementary pull-out programs?

During our meeting with Dr. Hardy, she affirmed there would be no disruption or changes to current AG elementary pull-out programs and resources.

Q: How will ARC impact the AG Strategic Plan?
At our meeting, Dr. Hardy affirmed her commitment to the AG Strategic Plan, and she did not foresee ARC’s implementation presenting any conflicts.

Q: If I have questions or concerns about ARC, what can I do?
Your Guilford County PAGE board continues to welcome feedback from teachers, parents and others. As well, Dr. Hardy encourages you to contact her office directly via phone or email:

GCS ARC Highlights*

  • ARC is based on thematic, cross-curricular, 6 to 9 week units by grade level based on a core non-fiction or fiction text and independent reading texts. There didn't seem to be an interest in allowing elementary teachers to gain access to middle school research labs and middle school teachers to gain access to high school labs for gifted students because of concerns about students having to repeat the same material later.
  • Professional development for teachers over the summer has been optional, and at the time of our meeting, the plan was for teachers to receive official training when the school year commences.
  • Students will be assessed using the ARC assessment instrument known as the Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) framework.
  • Two-hours of daily literacy instruction will include whole group learning, writing, labs and independent reading. Teachers have flexibility to determine component sequence, and can use small group or individual conferences with students.
  • In middle school, for instance, teachers in advanced English Language Arts classes may choose a different core text, which reflects the grade level theme.
  • For independent reading, students will have access to on grade level books as well as two grade level spans above and below grade level. It’s uncertain if higher level texts will be provided.
  • Throughout the school year, teachers and administrators will have the opportunity to give feedback on the implementation and progress of ARC.
  • *Based on information provided by Dr. Hardy and her team at our July 20, 2016 meeting.

Guilford County PAGE Needs You!

Guilford County PAGE seeks a diverse, engaged volunteer board of parents, educators and others interested in supporting gifted public, private, charter and home school students. Currently, we are seeking new board members in the following areas: Sponsorships & Partnerships, Adult Programming, and Communications. While the time commitment is modest, your impact can be great!
To learn more, contact Holly Stewart at holly@guilfordcountypage.

What is Balanced Literacy?

In simple terms, balanced literacy is a framework that balances reading and writing instruction. While the concept of balanced literacy is not new and has evolved over time, key aspects of this approach include reading aloud, guided reading, shared reading, interactive writing, shared writing, reading and writing workshops and word study.

According to Sadlier School’s blog, “Balanced Literacy is a curricular methodology that integrates various modalities of literacy instruction aimed to guide students towards proficient and lifelong reading.” Hallmarks of balanced literacy are the emphasis on specific skill instruction and the use of “authentic” fiction or non-fiction texts instead of basal readers (e.g., anthologies such as Reading Street).

According to Leah Mermelstein, as recounted by Education Week, balanced literacy has its roots in balancing diverse curricula (e.g., Hiebert and Cole, 1989); balancing teacher- and student-initiated activities (e.g., Spiegel, 1994); and the incorporation of assessment to ensure appropriate balance (e.g., Raphael and Pearson, 1997). The ultimate goal according to Mermelstein is for each student to become both a better reader and writer.

To learn more visit:
Education Week, “The Components of Balance Literacy,” excerpted from Reading/Writing Connections in the K-2 Classroom: Find the Clarity and Then Blur the Lines, by L. Mermelstein, 2006 edition, p. 56-68.

K12Reader, Balanced Literacy Program Components & Strategies.

(Click for graphic source.)


Balanced Literacy Info Sessions

Guilford Parent Academy is hosting two information sessions about GCS’s new ARC Balanced Literacy Program. Please see the links below for more information.

Guilford Parent Academy Session Aug. 9

Guilford Parent Academy Session Aug. 11



Aug. 10, 2016-March 25, 2017
Incredible Journeys:The Life Histories of Museum Objects
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem

Aug. 11-13
7:30 p.m.

Illuminate Salem
Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Winston-Salem

Aug. 13
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Community Day at Old Salem Museum and Gardens

Aug. 14
2-4 p.m.

City Arts Class Offerings Info Session
Downtown Greensboro

Aug. 19
4-8 p.m.

Family Friday Nights at SciWorks

July 16-Aug. 20
10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Black Mountain Chocolate Factory Tours

Sept. 9-11
76th National Folk Festival
Downtown Greensboro

Sept. 24
Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live!
Locations include Greensboro and High Point
Copyright © 2016 Guilford County PAGE, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Guilford County PAGE
PO Box 167
Oak Ridge, NC 27310

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