Wapato School District first implemented CKLA in 2015. Since the district started using CKLA, many of its students have tested as proficient for the first time. We spoke with Shannon Torres, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at Wapato School District.
Location: Wapato, Washington
Adoption: District-wide adoption in all elementary schools
District size: 3,300 students
Demographics: Rural; 98%-100% free or reduced lunch
What was the impetus for your district to adopt CKLA?
CKLA is part of a lot of changes over the last 10 years, beginning with a district improvement grant.
Did you face any challenges?
Teachers were challenged by the rigor, but that’s part of why we chose CKLA. When our committee narrowed the choices, we had to come to consensus as a group. One of the programs was very traditional and the other was CKLA.
With 25-30 committee members, we went back and forth. Finally, one of the kindergarten teachers stood up and said, “We all know which curriculum our kids need, and we are scared to death of it.” That’s when we chose CKLA.
What’s the most significant change you’ve seen with CKLA?
The biggest change we’ve seen is improvement in our kindergarten and Grade 1 data. Our mid-year DIBELS NWF for kindergarten shows increases from pre-CKLA to first-year CKLA.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve seen?
We didn’t anticipate how much positive parent feedback we’d get. Parents can’t believe what kids are coming home and talking about. Also, in recent years, our top 10 graduates have all been girls, but with CKLA we’re seeing more engagement with the boys.
What has been the student impact?
First-grade students get a big shout out here. At mid-year, 60-65 of approximately 260 students are at core. A number have already reached year-end goals. We’ve never seen results this positive before. This class of first-graders is the first to start with CKLA. We can’t wait to see them as fifth-graders!
What has been the impact on teachers?
Kindergarten teachers really embraced changing their pedagogy. CKLA has challenged and changed their thinking about reading and teaching reading. We’re seeing great improvement in reading ability that we credit to CKLA’s sounds-first approach to phonics.
How has the knowledge focus of CKLA made an impact?
We feel that CKLA provides knowledge that kids want to know. They want to know what happened to the Inca, whether in a read-aloud or in a reader, and they will work through the difficult parts to find out more. Students are reading more and talking about what they’re reading.
If you had one takeaway to share with other schools or districts, what would it be?
I dig the rigor. One teacher actually said this. This is the claim to fame! CKLA is real. The history (and all of the science) makes it hugely impactful.