C-P gets $103k to continue reading program

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

July 31, 2008 - Como-Pickton school has again received funding to allow the school district to continue the Reading First program. The $103,492 grant will continue efforts to improve reading skills in kindergarten through third grade.

"This allows us to have a Reading Coach and Reading Interventionist in grades K [kindergarten] through three," Assistant Superintendent Lydia Walden said. "It's a great program."

The program provides a reading interventionist and extra funding for materials to meet state and federal mandates and to update and replace curriculum. It also pays for a campus coach to make sure all requirement are being met, and a regional technical assistant. It also provides a support network with other coaches and guides to fulfill curriculum deadlines and paperwork associated with it. They network with other coaches at a monthly meeting. They also have reading technical assistants, when needed.

A director prepares data which is examined twice a month to make sure all students are progressing as they should.

"If they just gave us the money and training, there's no one ensuring we're accountable," said Sharon O'Brien, the reading coach. "With this, they supply a support person to make sure things are going as they should."

The program is implemented over a period of years, based on research, and requires the school designate a specified "uninterrupted, protected" time block every day specifically for reading. All students have reading at the same time block, with small group instruction "targeted at students needs based on data."

"It aligns curriculum so that we teach effectively, and you can't tell which group the students were in from one year to the next. This is more effective from the get-go," O'Brien noted. "Teachers have a lot of knowledge in their hearts. This curriculum allows them to look it up and back up that intuition."

The reading program is also beneficial as it can be adapted for students who have different learning styles. Several teaching and learning methods are implemented depending on needs, which are determined by assessment, data and tracking. The program also addressed ESL and bilingual students' needs, as well.

In essence, it provides the materials, staff, training, tracking, and also trains parents, provides digital resources to help students. The teaching philosophy is "I do it, we do it, you do it."

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