Keeping kids on right track

WINTERSVILLE – Recent legislation known as the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee has brought together Indian Creek Local School District, Edison Local School District and Jefferson County Headstart to ensure that all kids are on track to be at grade level in reading by the end of their third-grade year.

According to T.C. Chappelear, Indian Creek assistant superintendent, Ohio’s Third-Grade Reading Guarantee is a program to identify pupils behind in reading from kindergarten through third grade.

“The legislation was put into place to ensure that every struggling reader gets the support he or she needs to be able to learn and achieve,” he explained. “Except for students with special circumstances, students must meet a minimum score on the state reading test to move on to the fourth grade.”

The Ohio Department of Education awarded 91 Early Literacy and Reading Readiness Grants from 248 grant applications. Chappelear said the Indian Creek-Edison-Headstart Consortium was awarded $212,000 based on having a plan to provide high quality reading instruction and intervention to pupils not reading at grade level. Awards were determined based on the quality of the application and the amount of forward thinking that went into the planned activities.

“We will utilize as much of the money in this grant to fund a summer reading instructional program,” Chappelear said. “The research is clear that schools do a good job teaching kids to read between September and May. The problem for some students lies in being out of school and away from reading instruction during the summer months. The goal of our program is to continue high quality reading instruction and intervention throughout the summer so that students continue to make progress throughout the year.”

Edison Local will provide summer school for students next summer, according to Kim Wadas, assistant superintendent.

“We want our summer school program to reinforce the skills taught throughout the year and to develop the weaker skills,” she said. “Our instruction will prepare our students for the next school year and keep them on track for the Third-Grade Guarantee.”

Chappelear said receiving the grant also has created opportunities for professional development for teachers in all three districts.

“Teachers have already been busy attending Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling,” he stated. “LETRS provides the deep foundational knowledge necessary to understand how students learn to read, write and spell, and why some of them struggle. Reading teachers will also participate in training on using assessment data to create reading skill groups for intervention and how to measure a student’s progress to determine how effective the interventions are at addressing student needs.”

Another opportunity created through this grant will be the Internet-based parent portal, Teach Me To Learn at Home, Chappelear added.

“The system is designed to help parents and guardians offer a literacy rich environment in their homes,” he said. “Parents will have access to demonstrations, video clips, expert opinion and dialogue with other parents and researchers.”

The grant will provide funding for these programs through May.