Linda Thompson, Kokomo-Center Schools’ assistant superintendent, said kindergarten students are assessed at the beginning of school, to determine which children don’t have the early literacy skills they need to become readers. The assessments allow teachers to provide immediate assistance. Those students are tested again at the end of the first semester and the end of the year to determine what growth they have made.
First-, second- and third-graders are tested at the beginning of each year to see who is not reading at grade level, so interventions may begin right away, Thompson said. Those children work in small reading groups, with instruction targeted at their specific needs.
Teachers work in grade-level teams to review data and problem-solve ways to match teaching methods to individual students’ needs.
“Teach students to read on grade level is every Kokomo-Center K-2 teacher’s primary focus from the first day of school in August to the last day in May,” she said.
At Eastern Elementary, early literacy outreach begins before school starts. Principal Randy Maurer said children from birth to age 5 can receive a free book each month from the corporation’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
This year’s kindergarten class is the first that was eligible, and Maurer said those students who received the books will be designated on the school data wall, to gather data on the program’s impact.
The data wall shows each child’s current scores on multiple assessments, showing who is excelling and who is struggling in what areas.
“It just gives you a clear picture of where your kids are and where they need help,” Maurer said.
Eastern implemented the Accelerated Reader program this year, and Maurer said Spanish teacher Kathy Simmons plans to start an after-school reading club to provide more time for students to read and take AR tests.