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Last Updated: 10/31/2017
 

 Article of Interest - Literacy


Richardson schools to switch reading programs

Focus moves from one-on-one tutoring to teaching small groups

by Ian McCann, The Dallas Morning News, 07/21/2002

Students in Richardson schools who have difficulty reading will go through a new program that district officials developed this summer.

The program, which uses state reading standards to help determine who takes part, replaces Reading Recovery, which the district has used for about 12 years.

"We have, through the years, seen good results from Reading Recovery," said Gaitha Castleman, the district's director of language and literacy. "But over the past couple of years, we've had some challenges with the number of children considered at-risk increasing and our budget getting tighter."

Reading Recovery focused on first-graders with reading problems using one-on-one instruction and individualized tutoring. Richardson's new program will target similar skills including alphabetic principles, phonic recognition, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension but will teach groups of four to six students at a time. Also, the program will be used in kindergarten through third grade.

Ms. Castleman said a campus reading specialist will be able to work with up to eight groups of four to six students daily, instead of fewer than 10 students a day.

Richardson joins the Plano school district in reducing or eliminating Reading Recovery because of budget constraints. In Plano, principals can replace Reading Recovery voluntarily this year and will be required to change programs in 2003.

Plano officials said they are trying to move away from programs that take students out of their regular classrooms to work with instructors alone or in small groups. Literacy specialists will work with classroom teachers to help students who are struggling with reading.

They will also conduct professional development workshops and implement programs for students who have dyslexia.

Debbie Murphy, a Richardson district reading specialist, said the new program will give Richardson teachers a stronger tool to help struggling readers catch up to their peers before it becomes a problem for their education.

"It's just good teaching," Ms. Murphy said. "We've been working hard in the Richardson district to come up with a consistent reading philosophy, and this goes along with that. I think it'll be a very strong program for us."

Reading Recovery is an international program developed in New Zealand in the mid-1970s. It is used in schools in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Teachers who use Reading Recovery attend regular conferences to stay current with the program.

Several school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area use the program, including Carroll and Grand Prairie. Earlier this year, Carroll officials looked into reducing the scope of the program to cut costs but decided against the changes.

Mary Jane Demos, a Reading Recovery teacher in the Grand Prairie district, said it's one of the best reading programs she's worked with. The district is in its 11th year of using Reading Recovery.

"What I've learned using Reading Recovery is, it's going to enhance the child's learning," Ms. Demos said. "We're always going back to the question: How can we do better to help the students?"

Richardson officials said they will track students' progress continuously, which will help them determine the success of the new program.

"We've got ongoing monitoring of all the students in the program," Ms. Murphy said. "We'll follow the kids to determine what they need and how, if at all, we need to make small changes to the program."

This story also appears in the Richardson Morning News.

E-mail imccann@dallasnews.com

Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/stories/072102dnmetreading.d93c0.html

 

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