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Extra Reading Class Boosts Pupil Skills, but Not Permanently

By Sarah D. Sparks on September 9, 2010 9:39 AM

Source: Education Week Blog

Extra Reading Class Boosts Pupil Skills, but Not PermanentlyBy Sarah D. Sparks on September 9, 2010 9:39 AMA final evaluation of the federal Enhanced Reading Opportunities program suggests that extra, explicit reading classes can boost reading skills for struggling adolescents, but the short-lived improvements aren’t enough catch up students years behind the curve. 

The study suggests an extra reading class instead of a regular elective can boost reading comprehension, GPA, course credits and even state reading and math scores for students who enter freshman year reading several grade levels behind…the gains, interesting as they are, weren’t nearly enough to make up the difference for kids who started out on average four or five years behind grade level in reading. 

At the end of the year of supplemental help, nearly four out of five students still read two or more years below grade level and neither they nor the control group were on track to graduate. By the next year, every one of those program-year gains had disappeared. 

Moreover, even during the program year, students didn’t improve their reading behaviors along with their reading performance: they didn’t report reading more often, attending school more often, or even using the strategies taught in either of the two programs. Explicit literacy basically stops in 5th grade. Is one year of a program enough to get these students on track to be adept readers when all their lives they weren’t adept readers?

“Literacy in secondary schools, Mr. Long said, is “much harder than elementary schools [because] high schools tend to be a whole lot bigger, the issues and complexities of what is being taught tend to be a whole lot more daunting. Just having an emphasis in elementary schools doesn’t mitigate against the effect of poverty, especially in a time when we’re making things more rigorous across the board.”

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