09/28/04 — North Drive tech program guarantees improved reading

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North Drive tech program guarantees improved reading

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 28, 2004 2:02 PM

North Drive Elementary School is using a technology-based program that guarantees to have students reading on grade level in a year.

It is one of three strategies that Principal Carol Artis introduced this year at the school as a way to enhance the students' reading abilities and test scores. She said her motivation is to help children improve scores on the end-of-grade reading tests given in the spring.

"Reading Academy," the only program endorsed by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, is designed to have students reading on grade level in a year. It works by doing an assessment of each student's reading strengths and weaknesses. A customized set of reading tasks is then designed for each student.

But unlike many other programs, students are not allowed to move to the next level until they have demonstrated absolute proficiency on the current level.

Dawn Potter, curriculum facilitator at the school, said that instead of being frustrating for some students, the program's repetitiveness is actually its strength.

"They do get frustrated because it will not let them slack up, and that leads to increased attention span and increased comprehension," she said.

The program was introduced at the school after Labor Day. Teachers incorporate the program into classroom time for second, third, fourth, and fifth grades for 30 minutes twice a week.

Fifth-grade teacher Charity Wagner said she likes the program because it is based on the children's' needs and they can work at their own pace. She said she also benefits from the creative ideas offered on teaching reading in the classroom.

The second reading strategy being used this year focuses on helping exceptional children and Title 1 students. The school purchased the "Sonday Reading" program, geared to students who are one to two grade levels behind on standardized tests. Under the phonics-based program, students touch instructional materials and repeat the skills learned. Teachers devote 25 minutes a day to the program.

The third strategy, the Reading Renaissance program, is geared to students who are on grade level. This reading program is an extension of Accelerated Reader and motivates students to read by stressing independent reading and exposing them to different subjects.

The program is designed to nurture a love for reading in students who are already proficient in the subject and keep them moving in the right direction in later grades.