After six years of work in the Reading Recovery program, Harlan County’s school children have been making significant progress in their reading and writing abilities.
“Each year, the gap between Harlan County students and the national sample narrows,” said Donna Singleton, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader from the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, during a presentation at the regular meeting of the Harlan County Board of Education on Thursday.
Reading Recovery is a grant-funded intervention program targeting first graders who struggle with reading and writing. The program is currently in operation at all elementary schools in the county district except Wallins, Singleton said.
Local teachers who are trained to provide the services of Reading Recovery are also available to work with second and third graders who are having similar reading difficulties.
While Reading Recovery is an international program available in many languages, in the U.S. the program is conducted by the International Data Evaluation Center at Ohio State University. Administrators receive annual reports at the teacher, school and district level. Singleton was included on the board’s November agenda to deliver that report.
“We have been able to catch most problems and make more progress with students,” Singleton said. “We appreciate Harlan County’s investment in this program and these teachers.”
With the program, costly long-term remediation is eliminated for many children, her prepared report stated. One-to-one tutoring with trained teachers provides better results than small-group intervention programs like remediation, Singleton’s report also noted.
Three-fourths of all students in the program read at their grade level after a full series of Reading Recovery lessons, Singleton added, and 99 percent of those who successfully complete the lessons don’t need to be referred to special education for reading at the end of first grade.
Singleton highly praised the efforts of the district’s teachers for the local results. Those involved in Reading Recovery spend one-half hour per day with each child.
The initial training for Reading Recovery teachers includes:
*A full academic year of weekly graduate-level course work;
*Teaching at least four first-grade children daily in individual 30-minute lessons;
*Keeping complete records on each child as a basis for lessons.
Ongoing professional development is required. After the initial year, teachers must participate in a minimum of six sessions per year to remain qualified.
“There are a lot of pluses and benefits for the schools with the teachers you have,” Singleton said. “With Reading Recovery, you are investing in a person and not a program. We’re proud of what the teachers do. They work very hard with these kids who are struggling.”
Harlan County has “surpassed the national success rate, which is wonderful,” Singleton also commented. “Ninety-one percent of the kids who received the full 20 weeks of one-on-one instruction were successful in reaching the goal of reading at their grade level.”