Janesville School District Targets Essential Reading in Third Year

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As soon as the children open their eyes, they begin to learn what they will need for the third grade reading test.

Before their vision is fully focused, before they can grab a rattle and before they can sleep at night, they lay the foundation for their success as a third year of third grade.

And third-grade reading results mean everything, said school officials, because after the third grade, students do not learn to read, they read to learn.

Children who do not read correctly at the end of the third year are four times more likely to not graduate on time or drop out, the Janesville Gazette reported.

In the Janesville School District, almost half of Grade 3 students can not read at the elementary level, a situation that Superintendent Steve Pophal sees as a human rights issue.

Improving third-grade reading is one of the top priorities in the five promises approved by the Janesville School Board in August 2017. The promise of "academic and academic success" includes "90% of students third grade will read at the school level or above. "

Pophal said that reading in third grade was the key to the success of all other promises.

It could also be the most complicated and difficult goal.

To succeed, the district must go beyond the walls of the school and the boundaries of the school year.

By the end of the 2016-2017 school year, 43% of second graders in the Janesville School District could read at grade level. By the end of the 2017-2018 school year, these same students had completed Grade 3 and 56% could read at the Grade 1 level.

"People might think that means half of the third graders can not read and read a third-grade book," said Allison Degraaf, director of district learning and innovation .

In most cases, they can, but literacy means more than reading, Degraaf said. The third-year English-language exam, organized by the state, asks students to find information in stories, identify topics, compare and contrast texts and decipher the texts. Implicit meanings.

One recent morning, combined second and third year elementary school students at Van Buren Elementary School were working on text-to-text comparisons to real-world text comparisons.

They have gone well beyond the age of letter recognition and phonics.

They are as well ahead of previous generations.

A 2015 study published in the American Educational Research Journal examined the changing cognitive demands related to reading textbooks from 1910 to 2000. It revealed that the complexity of third-grade reading textbooks has declined at the beginning of the century and stabilized in the mid-century. century, but has "increased considerably since the 1970s, especially for the third year".

Stephanie Pajerski, Principal at Van Buren Elementary School, also witnessed the changes.

"I have been an educator for 24 years," Pajerski said. "It's about a level higher than what was taught in grade 2. But kids can do it."

This is true: science has shown that children are able to acquire such learning if they are given the proper foundation from birth.

Lilly King is a good example. Lilly, 7 ("I'll be 8 in March"), began her second year writing a story about dolphins.

More recently, she wrote a story about a toilet that ate everything, including small children. It was a poignant reading: the first lines are introduced in the toilets intended for children, but no one is eaten before the last chapter.

It was rude and funny – exactly what Lilly wanted to do.

"I wanted my story to be like goosebumps," said Lilly.

Goosebumps is a series of scary and disgusting children's books with intermittent snippets of humor to break things. Educators would say that Lilly used advanced literacy skills: making comparisons between texts, using plotting tools, and injecting the unexpected as an effect.

In another area of ​​the combined classroom, Aiden McIntyre, a sophomore, was working with Lisa Zimmerman, teacher, on fluidity, while reading a text about ice skating with relative ease. When asked what he likes to read, he replied: "graphic novels".

At another table, third-year student Elizabeth Hooser read a documentary on polar bears. She twice struggled with the word "environment" but nailed it to the third try.

"This reading moment does not always happen at the same time for students," Pajerski said.

Van Buren has an extra day each day devoted to reading. Younger children who can read at higher levels work with older children. Older children who have difficulties are responsible for training the younger ones.

"By the end of the third year of primary school, students should have a very good reading knowledge and be able to focus more on vocabulary and comprehension," Degraaf said.

Here's the problem: schools can schedule all the extra reading time they want, add teachers and offer tutoring after school, but that does not matter if the district is holding out not count of what is happening at home in the four or five years preceding school entry.

The emotional and academic skills that children need to succeed begin when the baby is born.

It all starts with the baby's connection to the parent.

Deborah McNelis of Brain Insights, a company created to educate newborns, infants and toddlers about early brain development, described the link in neurological terms: "… your child will make billions of initial connections during the first five years. "

Pophal said: "This link should be formed when a child is young, while all this (the brain connections) is going on, and when that happens, it tends to make that child healthier afterwards. that does not happen, these kids are designed to be a statistic about depression and anxiety. "

McNelis has developed a series of memory cards to show parents how closely the emotional and intellectual needs of children are linked.

Here is a sample of the flashcard collection "Love your baby: Make connections in the first year":

– Gently feel, rub and caress my hand while feeding me, always hold me during feedings. Look with love in my eyes. My brain was not fully developed when I was born. A love interaction is what I need most to help it grow better.

– Love me calm: Realize that loving me does not spoil me. Comfort me when I need you help me to learn to believe that you will take care of my needs. I will be calmer as my brain learns that I can expect you to take care of me.

– The development of my language will be based on the amount of direct language I hear in the first three years. Television and video are not good ways to learn languages.

These tips may seem obvious to middle-class families where parents duplicate the care they have been given or are engaged in learning about best parenting practices.

In economically disadvantaged households, parents may not have access to good child care and may not have good parenting models.

At age 3, children in economically disadvantaged households were exposed to 30 million fewer words than their middle-class counterparts, according to studies.

"For a child who lives in a house rich in prints, for the child to whom we read, the child who goes to the grocery store with mom or dad and the parents tell them," Look, these boxes of Cheerios are golden in color and there are four on the shelf – this is what helps children reach these (linguistic) benchmarks, "Pophal said.

Another difference is that before reaching kindergarten, children from families in the middle and upper classes spend 1,000 to 1,500 hours sitting on their parents' lap listening to them, Degraaf said. For children from economically disadvantaged families, this number is about 25 hours.

Due to differences in care and access to literacy materials, children in low-income households arrive at school less emotionally and academically prepared than their peers in economically advantaged homes.

This gap is difficult to fill.

Even though low-income children are catching up during the school year, middle-income children are more likely to have learning opportunities during the summer than they are. help to stay at a level above or equal to their class. Many studies show that by the time children are in Grade 3, the gap between students in both socio-economic groups has widened exponentially.

The third-year English language test in Wisconsin is a brutal reflection of these realities.

As poverty increases, test scores decline. In Wisconsin school districts where less than 10% of students live in poverty, the average score in English is 8.6 out of 10. In districts where 10% to 19% of students live in poverty, the average score is fall to 7.8.

With every 10% increase in poverty, the results of the Wisconsin test decrease: 7.1. 6.8, 6.4, 6.2, 5.7, 4.6, 3.4, 3.2.

The overall average of the state is 6.3. During the 2017-2018 school year, the poverty rate in the Janesville School District was 46.3, and her students scored an average of 7.2, which was above the average of 6, 4 in districts with poverty rates between 40 and 49.9.

Poverty is the reason why the district will not reach its third grade goals in reading if it does not tackle early childhood issues, district officials said.

Shortly after the district presented its five promises, it launched the Janesville Early Literacy Working Group. Its motto is "Read, Speak and Play Every Day".

The working group has received funding from United Way to be part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Each month, the library receives a free book for children who register.

The working group is now raising funds for its next project: providing each new Janesville parent with a bag of materials including two books, a bib, a rattle, information on an application that they can download to follow the stadiums their baby's development and a set of documents. McNeils Flashes "Love your baby: Make connections in the first year."

The working group worked with SSM Health St. Mary's and Mercyhealth System. They agreed to use the materials in the binders to help train new parents. Along with information about how to bathe their babies, parents will learn to ensure the emotional and intellectual health of their children.

There is no money available for the project and it can not be funded with taxpayer money. The bags and their contents cost about $ 30 each. Pophal raised funds and discussed the problem with local service groups and businesses.

Pophal acknowledged that the gain for such work will not happen before eight to ten years. But for him, it's worth it.

Pophal explains in a leaflet announcing the work of the working group: "Early literacy is the human rights issue of our time. Every child, regardless of economic status, race or social status, deserves an equal chance to read.

"If not here, where, if not now, when?"

The US Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to the market economy, says companies need to get involved in early childhood education.

Katherine B. Stevens, of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, writes in a booklet entitled "Leading the Way: A Guide to Business Engagement in Preschool Education": "Children are continually learning from the the moment they are born – wherever they are and whoever they are with – which means that the distinction generally made between "care" and "education" in early childhood is false. "

The pamphlet then outlines the arguments for commercial engagement and outlines the "next steps" that companies can take.

Caitlin Codella, senior director of policy and programs at the Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce, acknowledged that the US House may seem like an "unlikely advocate" for such an issue.

"We talk about it in terms of the manpower problem," said Codella. "But what the public might not understand is that companies are already treating it every day."

For businesses, it is about the workforce of today and tomorrow.

"The development of the workforce is a problem that we must solve today," said Codella. "But we are doing nothing to solve tomorrow's problem if we do not think about the work we have to do throughout the (educational) pipeline."

Studies show that investing in early childhood education results in higher wages later in life, more efficient public schools, improved public and personal health, reduced crime and more educated workers, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Chamber, the return on investment in early childhood education can reach $ 16 per dollar spent.

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Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com

An exchange of AP members shared by The Janesville Gazette.