It would not only be the hope, but expectation of all parents that literacy holds an important place within any given school district. Oakdale Joint Unified School District, however, has not only made it a pillar of importance but implemented a successful plan for results.
At the February OJUSD Board meeting on Feb. 4, OJUSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Kristi Rapinchuk presented the board with a detailed overview of the Elementary Learning Lab effectiveness.
The Assistant Superintendent addressed the board sharing a feeling of celebration at being able to share the successful outcome as a goal of Superintendent of Schools Marc Malone.
“Celebrating successful reading intervention across our elementary school sites,” Rapinchuk said.
In presenting the report, it was shared that the 2018-19 school year is the second year the district has provided the Tier 2 Reading Intervention in the form of the Elementary Learning Lab. A fact which now makes it possible for the board to review data of results from the introductory year to the current school year.
“The District has across all four elementary sites a standardized way to identify students,” Rapinchuk said of those in need of the program. “An agreed upon curriculum that will be provided. An agreed upon way in which we will monitor the progress of the students, as well as monitor program evaluation.”
First evaluated and identified at the end of their kindergarten year, the evaluations are given at each elementary school site. Basic standards are reviewed with the student and based on the results they are then identified as learning lab students.
Students identified for the program receive 30 minutes of reading support Monday through Friday, in lieu of the Elementary Elective Block. The goal is for students to improve their literacy proficiency and exit the program.
In reviewing the data districtwide of last year versus current year, a most impressive increase was shown through a color coded chart indicating an increase of close to 12 percent more students increasing three or more text levels (16.78 percent last year versus 28.30 percent this year) in grades two through six.
This area of the five colored results chart, Rapinchuk referred to as “incredible” as it indicates a significant increase in Words Per Minute.
Students are evaluated by use of a system known as a Running Record, where assessment is given for letter names, letter sounds, proper pronunciation of words and length of time to read the given text.
Upon review and feedback with district learning lab coordinators (site vice-principals), the observation was made that the most growth appears to be happening in grades two, three and four. To support this finding, tests score were reassessed for these three grade levels solely.
In so doing, an increase of over 20 percent was found in the highest evaluation area (19.3 percent last year versus 40.1 percent this year).
“They also said first grade definitely,” the assistant superintendent said of the feedback, “but once we hit grades five and six there’s not as strong (a trend) of growth.
“We really think that once we hit those grades we need to take away the timer and just listen for their accuracy as well as comprehension,” she continued.
Rapinchuk shared with the board her delight as well as appreciation of the site vice-principals for the success the program has had. She also shared the importance of why the district deems it critical to get all elementary students up to speed in terms of reading and reading comprehension.
“One of our district student goals is, students will meet proficiency before the end of third grade,” she stated, “because a lack of reading proficiency at that grade level is a predictor of high school non-graduation.”
“We can’t overstate how important it is that students are at grade level by third grade,” Superintendent Malone echoed. “It really is an indicator for future success. That’s why the program is imperative and we are so thankful that all the work is ending up in results.”