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In June 2017, the Ames Community School District adopted Fundations for phonics instruction in grades K-2. The purpose of this communication is to clarify recent questions about our Fundations implementation.

District staff worked to get Fundations materials ordered and in the hands of classroom teachers as quickly as possible over the summer. During teacher workshop week, K-2 teachers were provided Fundations training with Wendy Robinson from Heartland AEA. Ms. Robinson has received training in Orton-Gillingham instructional programs in addition to her extensive training in linguistics and literacy. Training with Ms. Robinson continues monthly for each grade level to provide ongoing support to our teachers as they learn to use the new program.

Initially, we had planned to have the Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) serve as an external evaluator during Year 1 implementation. Our staff worked with the IRRC to develop a walkthrough plan for building and District administrators to collect implementation data through classroom observation to help make data-driven adjustments in professional development.

We will continue to use the walkthrough process to collect implementation data, as originally designed. We will share data with the IRRC to ensure they are ready for any future evaluations of our Fundations implementation. With the addition of Fundations, we are clarifying how the rest of our literacy block best aligns with the new program. For that reason the Ames Community School District is taking the rest of the year to address this opportunity while implementing Fundations.

External evaluation by the IRRC will be suspended because we recognize that it is not fair to put our teachers under additional pressure as they work hard to learn the new program as well as make necessary adjustments in the rest of their literacy block. The Iowa Reading Research Center stands ready to serve as an external evaluator and will continue to support our work with quarterly check-ins scheduled to provide ongoing guidance. This includes providing input into additional supports  as we look at how other districts have implemented Fundations and continue to provide teachers the support they need to implement Fundations with fidelity.

The District would like to thank parents and community members who have actively engaged in our literacy efforts. We continue to monitor Fundations implementation and will update the Board’s Teaching and Learning Committee quarterly about the progress of implementation. Our goal is to ensure the success of each and every teacher as we implement this new program. This includes continuing to evaluate our ongoing professional development. In the meantime, we will focus on implementation and supporting our teachers in their use of Fundations.