by Tom Owens
Orcas Elementary’s summer reading program met with good success.
For Four weeks, two hours a day, 14 students received additional reading instruction. The summer vacation months are typically a period of declining reading skills, particularly for those students falling behind. The goal of the Orcas Elementary program is to prevent this summer decline with increased instruction. Thirteen of 14 students involved in the program improved or maintained their reading skills.
Reading is a critical life skill that all students must master to be successful through their school years and beyond. Those children that fail to learn to read have a high probability of struggling to successfully enter our society. As a community, we must ensure that our students do not move forward without this critical skill.
Orcas Elementary faces major challenges with their incoming and early grade level students. Of the 61 students finishing grades 1, 2 and 3 this spring, 37 students were at risk of not learning to read. That is 61% of the students in those grade levels. The school has a reading specialist and one and a half highly qualified paraeducators to meet these challenges. The summer reading program is one of these programs.
OIES is also piloting (trying out) an English Language Arts curriculum called Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts that focuses on teaching the science of reading and foundational skills K-5. Foundational skills refer to phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
All elementary teachers spent a half-day in a training focused on best practices surrounding the teaching of these “foundational skills” and are all trained in OCDE Project GLAD theory, which adds an additional layer of research-based “best practices” to Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts. Throughout the year all elementary teachers will continue to expand on the science of reading focus on Wednesdays as a part of our professional learning communities time from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
The summer program was under the supervision of the principal, Lorena Stankevich. Glenda Smith designed the program. Each student studied under a syllabus specifically prepared for them. Glenda and Alexa Nigretto were the teachers for the four weeks from 9 to 11 a.m. This project takes many hours of dedicated effort on the part of these people. Orcas is fortunate to have these individuals in our school.
Kindly support our elementary school in their efforts, not only in reading but all other subjects. The education of every child is vital for our country’s future.