One of the main areas of emphasis in PTM’s afterschool programming is on reading development. When the first formal reading assessments were conducted with Preston Taylor students in 2002, only 3% were reading on grade level. As children identified as struggling readers fall further behind in school, their motivation level declines, leading to continued poor academic performance and a greater chance of dropping out of school in later years. In short, outcomes for poor readers are bleak. In staffing our afterschool programs with trained and qualified reading specialists, PTM is intentional about offering effective instruction to continue to improve the reading achievement of participating students.
During the 2010-2011 school year, approximately 100 students participated in afterschool programming at our 3 locations – PTM’s main site, Faith United, and Park Avenue at Crosspoint. A total of 5 reading specialists provided systematic instruction to small groups of 5-6 students (K- 5th grade) for 25 minutes a day, Monday-Thursday. Participation in these classes gave our students over 1.5 hours of additional reading instruction per week outside of school. The reading programs offered by the reading specialists are based on research-based practices for quality and effective instruction and have consistently led to documented gains in achievement for PTM students. Progress is monitored through ongoing assessments conducted on site in reading fluency and comprehension and through reading scores obtained from the student’s schools. An end of the year analysis of all reading data indicated that as of May 2011, the following percentages of students at each site are now reading on grade level: 51% at the main site, 61% at Faith United, and 46% at Park Avenue. Likewise, a total of 67% of participating students across all sites improved their reading achievement over the course of the school year.
One student who made remarkable gains in reading this past year is Jaelen. As a 1st grader, Jaelen entered the school year not knowing all of his letter names or sounds, only identifying 11 sight words on the most basic sight word list, reading 11 words per minute, and receiving below average scores in comprehension. Throughout the course of the year, Jaelen consistently attended and actively participated in reading class and worked hard on improving his achievement. By the end of the year, Jaelan was reading 42 words per minute and had mastered all of the sight words on the basic list as well as 56 of the 60 on the next leveled list. In addition, he had improved his comprehension scores from below average to average and met the district-wide benchmark for being on grade level for the end of 1st grade. He gained more confidence in the classroom as a result and was excited to take books home with him this summer to continue practicing his reading skills. We are thrilled with the gains Jaelen and other students are making and commend them for their hard work to become better readers!