School to begin daily reading sessions
By ANANDA COLEMAN
Leader & Times
Reading “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary is fairly standard for a sixth grader. However, students limited to that reading level won’t do well in Earth and Space Science, Algebra I or high school level English classes.
Yet that is exactly where nearly half the freshmen and sophomores at Liberal High School find themselves, Liberal High School Principal Keith Adams reported at last Monday’s USD 480 school board meeting.
More than half the students currently enrolled in ninth and 10th grades in Liberal read below grade level.
Because “(the high school’s) goal is for every single student to graduate,” Adams said in an interview Thursday, “we really want to resolve this problem.”
Last semester’s reading test scores yielded grim results for LHS. Eighth, ninth and 10th graders are struggling; many are reading three grades below their proper place. According to standard “MAP” (Measure of Academic Progress”) tests administered during the winter of 2011:
o 60 percent of current 10th graders read below grade level, with 47 percent (total) three or more grades behind.
o 63 percent of current 9th graders read below grade level, with 44 percent (total) three or more grades behind.
o 37 percent of 8th graders (enrolled in middle school) read at least three grades below their level.
Part of the problem is that some students do not learn English in their homes. Twenty-six percent of the students attending LHS are English Language Learners (ELL). Often times, Adams said, these students enter the system somewhere between intermediate and middle school. Even though they may be enrolled at LHS as freshmen or sophomores, their English reading level can be three grades below the standard.
LHS is prepared to take the problem head-on. Adams and LHS staff intend to introduce a new program designed to increase reading levels in all grade levels throughout the school. The Monitoring Independent Reading Program (MIRP), Adams hopes, will also boost enthusiasm for reading in both students and teachers.
Basically, MIRP will provide time for students to read at their level every day for 20 minutes.
“It serves a two-fold purpose,” he said. “First, for the students to have time to read and comprehend what they’re reading. Second, it helps teachers become advisors. All the teachers will participate in this program.” Teachers will monitor as students read. They will have time to check in with students and see if they’re reading and comprehending.
The school’s motto for this year is “Graduation matters” and that is a message, according to Adams, the school is trying to get across at all levels. A major part of reaching this goal depends on increasing reading scores and skills.
“We want to make sure that each one of our students is college-ready,” he said.