Reading test scores show improvement

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Reading scores among Cape Girardeau School District elementary students have improved since the hiring of five literacy coaches at the beginning of the school year.

The coaches and district curriculum director Pat Fanger discussed student progress on reading tests at Monday's meeting of the Cape Girardeau School Board.

Overall, scores among the district's kindergartners, first-, second-, third- and fourth-graders improved from 43 percent scoring above average on a pre-test given last fall to 57 percent above average on a post test this spring.

The coaches shared credit for the improvements with classroom teachers at each of their schools.

"Overall, we're very pleased. It's directly because of the hard work the teachers do in the classroom everyday," said Missy Ashby, literacy coach at Clippard Elementary.

Fanger said the coaches were originally concerned about how the classroom teachers would accept their assistance.

"We kind of got our feet wet this year," she said. "I think it's been beyond our expectation as far as the reception we've gotten and the support."

A writing component will be added to the program next year and Fanger said Central Middle School teachers are beginning to implement some of the coaching strategies used at the elementary school.

"Before, we had five different schools and five different ways of doing things," she said. "For the first time, we're all doing the same thing."

Scores on the Development Reading Assessment not only increased in the above grade level category, but also decreased in the below grade level category.

Superintendent Mark Bowles said the coaching program is an example of a professional learning communities model the district has implemented.

"I think as people get a taste of that, they want more," Bowles said. "It's part of the answer districts have to have for what do we do when kids don't learn?"

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