In 1984, Judi and Terry Paul began Accelerated Reader in the basement of their home as a tool to develop the reading skills of children across America. For years, Clinton City Schools has used the tool for the development of students, but has now opted to eliminate the K-5 program.
Effective this school year, officials and teachers at Clinton City Schools have eliminated the use of Accelerated Reader in the K-5 elementary schools, but have begun a system-initiated reading program, Above and Beyond. Sampson Middle School will continue to utilize the program this school year, but it will be phased out and completely eliminated in 2016.
“Each school is rolling out the program to best meet the needs of the students in their school,” Erin Rady, K-5 curriculum coach said.
Rady, along with Dr. Kelly Batts, presented the layout of the plan to school board members during their monthly meeting Monday night.
According to Rady, students in Sunset Avenue will begin using the program next week, while Butler Avenue students will begin the program within the next two weeks. L.C. Kerr students will begin utilizing the program sometime within the first nine weeks of school.
The program, which costs the school system nothing, was developed as an idea that Rady said is in the best interest of the students and helping them become independent readers.
“We want to make sure the students are equipped with the what they need to develop critical thinking skills,” the curriculum coach added.
To participate in the program, students will choose and read a book of their choice, based on their independent reading level. Once the student completes the book, teachers will then ask students to complete an assignment or activity that goes along with the book they read. With the completion of the assignment, students will earn points that allows them to reach a goal.
“All assignments are directly related to common core standards and a part of what the students are being asked to learn at their grade level,” Rady said. “This will be a great opportunity for the teachers to talk with each individual student about their level and they can encourage them to choose something on their independent reading level.”
Students will continue to be rewarded for meeting their goals at the end of each nine weeks.
Examples of assignments, Rady said, would be writing a letter to the author of the publication or writing a student’s opinion on what they read. Each assignment will be worth anywhere from 100-300 feet, which is similar to points.
Above and Beyond, Rady shared, gives the teachers and schools more flexibility, as teachers are allowed to modify assignments at anytime. Teachers will use a rubric grading system to determine how well the child understood their reading.
“Our ultimate goal is for students to become individual readers,” Rady shared.”The assignments are geared towards the student’s individual needs. Teachers can tailor the assignments to meet each student.”
The former program used, Accelerated Reader, unfortunately deterred some students from wanting to read, according to Rady. Once students completed a reading assignment, they then took a multiple-choice question test. Above and Beyond, Rady said, allows for students have a different type of assignment, giving them an opportunity to succeed in other ways.
“The assignments are based on the state goals and objectives the students are required to complete anyways,” Rady said.
With the new program being something that isn’t costing the schools any money, the teachers and administrators, Rady said, have room to play with the initiation of the program.
“With the curriculum being continually reevaluated, we will think about what works best for the students,” Rady said. “We hope this will improve our proficiency scores.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.