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Direct Instruction reading program helps Michigan students reach, maintain grade level proficiency

McGraw-Hill Education’s Reading Mastery literacy intervention program boosts fluency of students in Roseville Community Schools

Three years ago, more than 60 percent of incoming middle school students in the Roseville Community Schools (Mich.) lagged in fluency, meaning they were not reading as quickly and as accurately as their national peers. District students were leaving kindergarten without reading independently. This year, middle school students are getting back on track, and kindergarteners were reading independently by December, due in large part to Direct Instruction solutions from McGraw-Hill, says Mark Blaszkowski, curriculum director for the district.

The 5,200-student district uses a combination of SRA Reading Mastery Signature Edition (K-5), Corrective Reading (3-12) and Read to Achieve (6-12) to get and keep students in grades K-8 on pace. “Our reading scores are now matching the national rate of improvement over time,” Blaszkowski says. “We have finally stopped the bleeding, and we did it in just one year. Where kids were not keeping up with the rate before, we now are keeping up and hoping to surpass the national rate of improvement because of this program.” Using Reading Mastery, teachers organize students into small groups based on proficiency, and present programs tailored to their specific needs. “Reading Mastery is comprehensive,” Blaszkowski says. “We’re using all the components of the program: reading, language, spelling and writing. The decoding pieces are correcting fluency issues. Each year that we continue our implementation, kids will be closer to their grade level. Middle schools will require fewer support classes because of what we’re doing in the elementary schools.”

Roseville introduced Reading Mastery as the core reading and language arts curriculum for grades K-2 during the 2012- 2013 school year. They saw such quick success, administrators decided to expand to third and fourth grade this year. Next year, fifth grade will be added. Typically, a K-2 teacher will follow a Reading Mastery script to present a lesson to a group of 10-15 students while other students work independently. After ensuring that students have mastered the lesson, the teacher will switch groups. By third grade, lessons are more focused on whole-group instruction, with science and social studies content included in reading lessons. “This program provides consistency, support for teachers and data to record the success of students,” Blaszkowski says. “It’s not just reading. It has a writing component and Common Core instruction; it has all the pieces of literacy we need.”

The district also uses Corrective Reading as intervention for students in grades 4-8 who are not reading on grade level, and Read to Achieve to help middle school students with more technical texts such as science, social studies and math. “As Reading Mastery corrects issues, we’ll have fewer kids in Corrective Reading,” Blaszkowski says. “However, students will continue to move into the district at all grade levels, and some of them will still need additional services, so Corrective Reading will continue to be an important tool.” Roseville administrators decided to implement Reading Mastery after investigating its success in similar Michigan districts— lower income in a suburb of a large urban area—such as those outside Flint, Kalamazoo and Belding. About 75 percent of Roseville students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.

During last year’s implementation, teachers participated in four full days of training, practicing by presenting material in front of peers before using it in the classroom. Once in the classroom, McGraw-Hill coaches observed teachers and suggested improvements, modeled presentation techniques, and continued to provide ongoing feedback and support throughout the year to ensure successful program implementation. “When teachers first learned of this program, they were worried their personalities might be quashed, but that’s not what happened,” Blaszkowski says. “They have become experts on delivery while not having to worry about searching for materials to plan, and they are able to inject their own personalities into the delivery of the program.”

For more information about SRA Reading Mastery and other proven literacy intervention programs, visit mheonline.com.