Putting Reading First
"The instruction is intense. We have a lot more assessments so we can pinpoint exactly where a child is," said Prairie Home third grade teacher Sarah Stidham.
Stidham's instruction comes from a federal initiative called "Reading First". Guided by the No-Child Left Behind Act, Prairie Home teachers get federal money to buy books and supplies.
"In the morning, we have a 90 minute block that is totally uninterrupted," said Stidham.
During that time, the Reading First program keeps kids focused on literacy in three different centers around the room: vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. They also get focused time with the teacher. And when kids are on that reading schedule here at Prairie Home to read books through the Reading First program, they're doing so because of scientifically based research.
"Everything we do is focused on what we know works for children," said reading coach Jill Dunlap.
Research that also tells teachers to test these kids' reading ability at specific points throughout the school year. As a reading coach, Jill Dunlap trains teachers to test students.
"As the child is doing the test, the teacher would score on the palm pilot. If a child starts to slip, we know almost immediately," said Dunlap.
And that's just the point to this Reading First story: predict and track how kids are reading before they get too far behind.
"Our main goal is to keep our special education population down, and to intervene before we have a huge reading problem," said Dunlap.
A job for Stidham... She says is made easier...through Reading First.
"We want them to learn to love to read", Stidham said.
Over 100 schools are involved in the Reading First curriculum in Missouri.