Brookfield Middle School has set a goal for the year of improving each student’s reading level by one or more years, said Principal Craig Boles.
That’s an ambitious goal given that some students are way below where they should be. All students were administered a reading test through the i-Ready online instruction and assessment program, and the results showed that only 32 percent of fifth-graders were reading at their grade level or above. In other grades, the percentages were 30 percent for sixth-grade; 39 percent for seventh-grade; and 33 percent for eighth-grade.
The test measured each student’s competency in phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, vocabulary, comprehension in literature and comprehension in informational text.
“Our kids do really, really well as a whole in” phonological awareness, phonics and high-frequency words, Boles said, but others struggle with the basics.
“We have kids that we have to go all the way back to phonics,” he told the school board Nov. 18. “Phonics is something that starts being taught in kindergarten. We have to go all the way back, because, when we see some of our kids read, they can’t break words down and we have to go back and start to address those things.”
The school is working on reading skills in all classes, but hits it hard in intervention, when all students go onto i-Ready and do exercises geared to their reading levels.
“The teachers are making sure they get on, and watching them do those assignments,” Boles said.
The middle school’s afterschool program offers more reading help, he said.
Middle school teachers are being trained in teaching some of the basics of reading that normally are handled in elementary, and elementary Principal Stacey Filicky has been brought in to work on improving phonics teaching in the elementary.
“It’s not gonna go away,” Boles said. “It’s gonna take some time, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Boles said he has found that students who read very well do not read enough.
“A lot of kids don’t read any more,” Boles said. “Their face is in (their phones).”
Officials are looking at activities geared toward good readers, such as introducing them to classic literature.
Students will take i-Ready assessments two more times this year to gauge their progress, he said.