JHS students’ reading ranks wellDr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day are both today, and according to test scores, students in Jamestown Public Schools are doing better than the average North Dakota student when it comes to cracking the books.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day are both today, and according to test scores, students in Jamestown Public Schools are doing better than the average North Dakota student when it comes to cracking the books.
The reading achievement rates over time and across all grades show that for 2010-1011 slightly fewer students here are not proficient in reading, and that slightly more students here are proficient, compared to the state as a whole.
The numbers are less than a percentage point better than state marks but still, it shows students here read better than in other districts.
“We’re above the state average, which is always good and for the most part we’re getting better every year,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso.
Reading achievement rates are a deciding factor in the district making Adequate Yearly Progress, which has not happened in the past two years.
Federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires districts to have a certain percentage of students meet proficiency levels. Meeting this requirement is called “making Adequate Yearly Progress,” or AYP.
In 2011, 82 percent of schools nationwide failed to meet AYP. Failing to meet AYP requires that 10 percent of the district’s federal Title 1 funds be used for professional development.
JPS failed to meet AYP for the past two years. That amounts to $73,000 that must be used by JPS this year for professional development.
The scores suggest students here are improving, but not to federal education standards.
Toso isn’t worried about AYP, because he feels it will soon become moot and be replaced by different education standards that tie in student and teacher performance.
“We feel like we’re doing well,” Toso said. “We need to do better, we know that, but I don’t put a lot of emphasis on AYP.”
While Toso has no reading scores that directly tie teachers to students’ performance, he did have numbers that followed class scores over years. This is the opposite of AYP test scoring, which tests the same grade level each year.
As a whole, elementary schools showed progress, as students moved from grade to grade from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010. The same remains mostly true for middle and high school students, sans the class of 2013.
Sherry Schmidt, principal at Lincoln Elementary, attributes the increasing scores at her school to the teachers.
“Our staff has become really dedicated to helping kids and find any means to do that,” Schmidt said.
Struggling students also get a leg up at Lincoln with a referral program that gives them more face time with educators, she said.
Lincoln started a reading program in February with a community read in February.
Each family was lent a copy of “Indian in the Cupboard,” and they all have a schedule of what chapters to read and when to read them.
Then at the end of the month there was a party for parents and students surrounding the book’s themes.
At Louis L’Amour Elementary, Lynnette Ryan’s third-graders are wrapping up a group novel-study unit.
Next week those same students get to meet another class — in New Jersey.
Ryan is taking read across America to the East Coast, as her class looks to interact with students across the country. Dr. Seuss will likely come up in the online discussion as March is his birthday month.
While Read Across America Day is Friday, it’s really up to each school on when to hold a reading month, said Dave Saxberg, director of elementary education for JPS.
“Each school, they design and set up their own activities,” Saxberg said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org