South Berwyn School District 100 recognizes that if we are going to succeed in our vision of being in the top 25 percent of school districts statewide, we must focus on early, aggressive literacy intervention.
Educators have long known the importance of students’ ability to read at grade level by third grade. We know that before third grade, students generally are learning to read, while in third grade and beyond, students are spending more time reading to learn.
A report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2012 revealed some startling statistics in one of the first national studies that calculates high school graduation rates for children at different reading skill levels and with different poverty rates. We now know that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade fail to graduate from high school on time. In addition, factors such as race and income have a significant impact on reading proficiency. Many children in the District 100 community are facing what the foundation calls “double jeopardy.”
Given that third grade is generally a pivot point in education, District 100 has redoubled its efforts to ensure our students are reading at grade level by third grade. Through a process called Response to Intervention, struggling students are quickly identified and provided intensive reading interventions to remedy any delay in their reading ability. School teams meet regularly to review students‘ individual assessment data and decide which research-based intervention best meets a student’s needs.
Knowing what we now know, school readiness must take center stage. In order for kindergarten students to start off on the right track, they must be reading by November. Students who come to kindergarten being able to recognize their letter names and letter sounds are far more likely to be able to reach this benchmark than those who do not.
Early, aggressive literacy intervention is not an option but a necessity. If we are to expect all of our students to be reading at grade level by third grade, and if we expect to achieve our vision to rank in the top 25 percent of districts in the state of Illinois, we need to act quickly.
Jeremy Majeski is principal of Komensky Elementary School and literacy director in School District 100