Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BGS: Teaching Students to Read

Reading is the most important factor that leads to academic success. In fact, research shows students who can’t read well often give up trying to learn, period.   

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Institute of Literary Pursuit,14 percent of the population in the United States can’t read, 21 percent of adults read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school students can’t read when they graduate. Those statistics are about the same as 10 years ago.

In other words, with the billions of dollars the federal government throws at public schools to improve education little of it sticks to the wall.

Furthermore, according to the Department of Justice, 85 percent of all juveniles in the judicial court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of Americans in prison cannot read above a fourth grade level.  

However, in spite of the national inefficiency, the curriculum in Bayard’s Grade School emphasizes teaching students to read, and it starts in Kindergarten.

During the first semester, Kindergarten students learn the alphabet along with other basics like recognizing numbers and how to spell their names. During second semester, they’ll learn the sounds of the letters and practice their new-found skills with “See Spot run” type books.

When these Kindergartners start grade school, they and the other grade school students set yearly reading goals that are broken down into quarters. The books they choose to read are worth points and range from one point for a small-one-chapter-book to 15-20 points for a Harry Potter type book, and anywhere in between.

At the end of a quarter students are awarded prizes for accomplishing their reading goals, based on the number of points they’ve earned. Prizes range from activities like a game day at school, roller skating, bowling, swimming, and rock climbing.

This year 91 students met their reading goals. The grade schools objective is for 150 students to reach their chosen standard.

If, perchance, you didn’t notice, the rewards are all physical activities, which is not a coincidence. 

The grade schools faculty and administration decided to pursue two objectives with one activity; they combined a sedentary pursuit, reading, with the above mentioned physical activity awards.

One good turn deserves another.

For ideas about different reading programs Bayard teachers visited other area schools. From a-give-and-take approach of different programs, Bayard’s Grade School now has a reading plan that’s solely based on age, grade level, and ability. To achieve this standard, teachers test reading levels and assign students accordingly; mobile students take a reading test their first day in school.

Since Bayard’s Grade School started its reading program, representatives from area schools now visit Bayard to observe their initiative in action, as I had the pleasure of doing.  

Good job BGS.

(I hope I reach my reading goal this semester.)


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