Archived Story

Kincheloe sees results Of Reading Recovery

Published 9:50am Tuesday, November 17, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Kincheloe Elementary School’s second-year Reading Recovery program, spread to the other three district grade schools with Dowagiac’s federal Title I stimulus dollars, is “hands down, the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen our staff do” in 24 years with the Union School District, Principal Dawn Conner apprised the Board of Education Monday night.

“Without reading, education becomes a very dismal prospect,” Superintendent Peg Stowers said.

“The staff has invested an enormous amount of personal time, but in reality they’re saving lives.”

When Kincheloe had the opportunity to train Christa Siegel during the 2008-2009 school year, she became the first Reading Recovery teacher in the Dowagiac Union School District.

She was a Title I teacher.

The school selected to have her work part-time Reading Recovery and part-time literacy groups serving kindergarten through third grade.

During the 2008-2009 school year, eight first-grade students were served from the lowest 20 percent of their class.

Out of these eight students, two were successfully discontinued – returned to their classroom reading at or above the class average, with intermediate checks from their Reading Recovery teacher – from the program, six students were removed from Title 1 and two students qualified for further interventions.

Of the students who were not discontinued, four lessons were left incomplete due to lack of time in the school year.

The average program length for students successfully discontinued was 15 weeks, which is about 65 individualized 30-minute lessons or 32.5 instructional hours per child.

Eight students served this year at Kincheloe by Siegel, first grade teachers Katrina Daiga and Tami Small and kindergarten teacher Melissa McDonald are equivalent to about 18 percent of the first grade.

Since two of those students were discontinued successfully at Kincheloe, they will not need any further help if appropriately supported by classroom instruction.

Out of the students not discontinued, one placed at grade level during his exit observational survey.

Two of the students whose lessons were incomplete exited at text level 14 (they should be at level 16 at the end of first grade).

A third student with incomplete lessons was at level 12.

With a full series of lessons it is anticipated that three of the four students with incomplete lessons would achieve level 16.

This lowers the percentage of students needing specialized, intensive help to 4 percent of first graders.

Dr. Marie Clay emphasizes two possible outcomes for a successful Reading Recovery program: discontinuing the student at or above grade level; or identifying the student as needing additional intervention.

Children selected to participate in Reading Recovery at Kincheloe began the year at an average level of 0-1, meaning they were unable to read patterned, predictable stories.
These students were only able to write an average of five words and to read only an average of one sight word.

First-round children who discontinued from the program tested out reading at level 14, whereas level 16 is where they should be by the end of their first grade year.

Year-end testing indicates continuous growth for these students testing above their early year scores.

In addition, the Ohio Word Test grew to an average of 17, writing to an average of 28 words.

Children in the second round read between levels 3-5, indicating that they were able to read pattern books with repetitive text.

Their sight word knowledge on the Ohio Word Test average was 10.5 and they were able to write an average of 18 words.

Two discontinued students were reading at level 14.

Of students not discontinued, two were identified for further services.

During the year, others will be monitored carefully by the classroom and the Reading Recovery teacher.

Of eight students served this year, two received services from the speech therapist.

Of these two students, both would have successfully discontinued from Reading Recovery with a full series of lessons.

Reading Recovery was not yet fully implemented the first year at Kincheloe.
Since there was only one Reading Recovery teacher, they were unable to reach all of the students who needed the program.

They were, however, able to adapt some strategies and to use the Reading Recovery teacher to share the information from “Literacy Lessons” by Clay.

That allowed kindergarten, first and second grade teachers to use and reinforce the strategies in Reading Recovery.

The biggest obstacles met during the first year of Reading Recovery were year-end interruptions.

Students in the second round barely were unable to complete lessons.

During this time, there were a number of interruptions and reasons the teacher was unavailable.

In the second round, three of the four students received only 11 weeks and the fourth only 13 weeks.

Some goals Kincheloe identified are:

• Achieving fully-trained implementation to reach all students who need Reading Recovery.

• Continuing to educate kindergarten and first grade parents on what Reading Recovery is and how it is available to their child.

• Working to enhance communications between kindergarten, first grade and Reading Recovery teachers so all are aware of student needs.

• Continue to monitor Reading Recovery students across time into following grade levels to determine progress.

• Scheduling conflicts so enough planning and assessment time are allotted.

• Additional communication to all staff the purpose and literacy strategies of Reading Recovery.

Conner said Reading Recovery teachers devote at least one night a week to learn the program.

“It’s a testimony to how committed they are to making sure that we reach our goal of having all children reading at grade level,” Conner said.

“The training for us does take a lot of time,” Daiga said, “but the impact outweighs it.”
The mother of one of the girls involved in Reading Recovery said her daughter wanted to read since before kindergarten, but “could never grasp the concept” despite help from her parents and brother.

Reading Recovery proved the missing component.

“In the same way Reading Recovery breaks down words,” she said, “it breaks down a child’s bad reading habits and establishes new and better reading habits.

“Reading on her own allows her to entertain herself” and her self-esteem has climbed with her progress. In spelling, she is now likely to get one wrong instead of one right before.

“They see themselves as leaders and that’s a powerful thing that stays with them the rest of their lives,” Siegel said.

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