2000-10-07 / Columnists

Focus on 27 Community School District News and Notes

Curriculum and Instruction,
Director
By Denise Sontag

Focus on 27
Community School District News and Notes
Curriculum and Instruction,
Director

Reading Recovery is a highly effective short-term early intervention program designed to assist the lowest achieving children in first grade who have been having difficulty learning to read and write. Developed over 20 years by Dr. Marie Clay, an educator and researcher from New Zealand, the Reading Recovery program is designed to dramatically reduce the number of first grade students who have extreme difficulty learning to read and write.

Children are selected for the program based on individual measures of assessment and teacher judgment. Children meet individually with a specially trained teacher for 30 minutes each day for an average of 12 to 20 weeks. The lessons consist of a variety of reading and writing experiences designed to help children develop effective strategies for reading and writing. Instruction continues until the child can read within or above the class average and has demonstrated independent use of these strategies. The student is then "discontinued" providing the opportunity for another child to enter the program. During this relatively short-term intervention, these children make faster than average progress so they can catch up with their peers and continue to work on their own within an average group setting in the regular classroom.

During the 1999-2000 school year, 10 of District 27’s elementary schools joined this internationally recognized initiative. As the first of the Queens school districts to commit to this program, our journey began with an intensive year-long teacher education program for two teacher leaders at New York University. Once trained, the role of the teacher leader is to train Reading Recovery teachers from participating schools during weekly after-school training sessions. Last year, our two teacher leaders trained a total of 12 Reading Recovery teachers. These sessions were conducted at District 27’s newly constructed Reading Recovery site located in P.S. 97 in Woodhaven.

In order to become part of this initiative, School Leadership Teams are required to develop an implementation plan as part of their school’s Comprehensive Education Plan or CEP. Each spring, elementary schools are invited to participate in this program. In order to be trained as a Reading Recovery teacher, candidates must meet certain criteria and participate in a selection process. Of the 98 students that were serviced in District 27’s Reading Recovery program during our initial year, more than 78 percent could read and write with the average range of performance of their class. Over 15 years of research indicate that these students will also do well on standardized tests and maintain their gains in later years. Students who still have difficulty after a full series of lessons are referred for further evaluation, as they may be candidates for longer-term programs.

This year, we are delighted that four additional schools and 10 additional teachers will be trained in this intensive instructional model. In addition to their already trained teachers, some schools have elected to train more teachers to better meet the need of their students.

With continued support from our Community Superintendent, Mr. Matthew Bromme, it is our hope that additional schools will consider implementation of this highly successful program.

During a recently conducted survey of administrators, teachers and parents, one hundred percent of the parents that completed the survey described Reading Recovery as an excellent program. As one parent said, " I feel that Reading Recovery is a great program, I see a real improvement in my son’s reading. I think any child that needs extra help will benefit from this program. I hope this program continues as there seems to be a great need for it."


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