The latest literacy update in the WSWHE BOCES Division of Special and Alternative Education shows an across-the-board growth in literacy for students in kindergarten to grade 12.
For the younger students there is an increase in naming and sounding out letters and fluency and for the older students there’s an increase in reading level or Lexile. “Students are successful in this program due to the foundations and consistency of the program,” said speech and language pathologist Maura Fox, who is one of three literacy facilitators involved in the implementation of the literacy plan since its inception in the 2011-12 school year. “We are now seeing students who have reached their grade level and beyond, who need more rigor.”
“Our next step will be to turn our good readers into good writers,” added speech and language pathologist Martha-Hainey Flacke who is also a literacy facilitator.
Special education teacher Karen Turcotte rounds out the literacy facilitator team that provides ongoing support to the teachers.
Director of Special and Alternative Education Nancy DeStefano said, “Our literacy initiative is a collaborative effort with the primary goal of improving student learning. We’re tackling literacy as a team sport.”
Three years ago, the need for a shared, conceptual model of reading and literacy across the curriculum for the special education population was recognized. After researching different ways to provide differentiated instruction for individual students to increase their performance through improved reading skills, a proven, research-based instructional technology tool based on sound pedagogy was chosen. The literacy plan utilizes Scholastic’s literacy program, System 44 and Read 180. Fundations and iRead are used for younger students.
Teachers received professional development and additional support from the literacy facilitators.
Reading activities are on the computer, which is a big motivator for students. Students can not move on to the next question until they have answered the question correctly. The computer senses patterns and knows if students are guessing.
“I’ve noticed that my students are more inclined to choose reading activities or read during their free time,” said Mrs. Hainey-Flacke, who works in a BOCES Educating Autistic and Related Disorders Students or BEARS classrooms for middle school students. “Plus, now students have more confidence to raise their hand in class and be willing to read aloud, which they do fluently and with inflection. It’s very rewarding to hear students say, ‘I can read.’”
Click here to see the literacy data update for 2014-15.