Special Education Department and Maine Department of Education Host Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Dee Saucier, Rachel Brown-Chidsey, Cindy Soule, Mindy Butler, Carla Reyes, and Sara Needleman.

On Monday 22 January the SEHD Special Education Department and the Maine Department of Education co-hosted a screening of the film “The Right to Read.” This documentary is about recent reading performance trends among U.S. students. Narrated by veteran educator Kareem Weaver, it highlights how students of color are less likely to meet reading proficiency standards than other students in U.S. schools. The stories of a new first grade teacher as well as two families of young children are showcased in relation to their efforts to ensure reading success.  The movie emphasized research findings about the importance of evidence-based reading instruction methods that include structured literacy with explicit and systematic instruction in all areas of reading, including phonics. The film was followed by a panel discussion with SEHD faculty members Rachel Brown-Chidsey, Mindy Butler, and Sara Needleman as well as 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year and USM alumna Cindy Soule and Carla Reyes, both from the Portland Schools. Dee Saucier from the Maine Department of Education moderated the panel which focused on ideas to improve reading outcomes for Maine students.  Panel members encouraged educators to examine the research behind materials they select for reading instruction and to work together to use data to support instruction.