Nevada School’s summer program works toward increasing reading proficiency among students

Briana Dunn

Central Elementary Principal Kathy Goecke informed the Nevada School Board at Monday’s meeting that the 2015 summer reading program was successful. About 60 percent of kids who attended the program increased their words-per-minute (WPM) reading rate. Although many children increased their reading proficiency, Goecke still feels there is room for improvement.

“At the end of the summer, we had 17 out of the 28 students improve in their words-per-minute reading rate,” she said, “and 14 out of 27 improved their WPM rate this fall; although if you add in comprehension scores, 19 out of 27 students improved in comprehension.”

Summer school takes place over 24 days during the summer break. Students who attend the program are grouped by grade and measured on their ability to meet reading goals according to state averages. Those who were considered sufficiently deficient in reading at the end of last year were invited to summer school to improve their reading rate, proficiency and comprehension.

“For us those are super successful numbers, because if we can help students maintain and not lose proficiency, that is our goal,” said Goecke. “So to have students who actually lifted their rates, that really is a bonus.”

Overall Goecke was impressed with the numbers the summer reading program turned out, but she feels they could be higher if attendance rates were better. The program is most effective if all students who are invited attend a minimum of 90 percent of the program, which means they can only miss two of the 24 days. Only 32 percent of students enrolled in the program reached 90 percent attendance.

“Although to have kids come back from summer improving their reading scores is great,” she noted. “Usually kids lose comprehension over the summer.”

Curriculum for the summer reading program is built with an intervention approach. Since those who attend need serious help in reading, the program is formatted to suit the needs of each individual student. Students with similar deficiencies are grouped to ensure that each student is getting the help they need.

Part of the program’s success was due to the school’s partnership with Food for Thought, which provided the meals for students who attended the program. The district also provided transportation for students. With meals and transportation provided, students really had no excuse not to attend.

“It’s not a feel good program only. We want to make an impact in students learning, development and nutrition,” said Jean Kresse, United Way CEO. United Way helps sponsor Food for Thought. “It’s important that students attend the entire program.”