by Tom Owens
Orcas Elementary’s summer reading program has been very successful.
For four weeks, two hours a day, 14 students received additional reading instruction. The summer vacation months are generally a time of declining reading skills, especially for late students. The goal of the Orcas Elementary program is to avoid this summer decline through increased education. Thirteen of the 14 students participating in the program improved or maintained their reading skills.
Reading is an essential life skill that all students must master in order to be successful throughout their school years and beyond. Children who do not learn to read have a high probability of having difficulty entering our society successfully. As a community, we need to make sure that our students do not move forward without this essential skill.
Orcas Elementary faces major challenges with their incoming students and first graders. Of the 61 students who completed Years 1, 2 and 3 this spring, 37 students were at risk of not learning to read. This represents 61% of students at these grade levels. The school has a reading specialist and a para-educator and a half highly qualified to meet these challenges. The summer reading program is one such program.
The OIES is also piloting (testing) an English language education program called Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts, which focuses on teaching the science of reading and foundational skills from Kindergarten to Grade 5. Fundamental skills refer to phonetics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
All primary teachers have spent half a day in training focused on best practice surrounding teaching these ‘foundational skills’ and are all trained in the theory of the OECD GLAD project, which adds an extra layer of knowledge. Amplify Core Knowledge of Language Arts research-based “best practices”. Throughout the year, all elementary teachers will continue to develop the science of reading with a focus on Wednesdays as part of our professional learning communities from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The summer program was under the supervision of the director, Lorena Stankevich. Glenda Smith designed the program. Each student studied in a program specially prepared for them. Glenda and Alexa Nigretto were the teachers for the four weeks from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This project takes many hours of dedicated effort on the part of these people. Orcas is fortunate to have these people in our school.
Please support our primary school in their efforts, not only in reading but in all other subjects. The education of every child is vital for the future of our country.