Great Expectations: Kindergartners’ Reading Gains Lead to Improved Test Achievement
Can reading instruction in kindergarten measurably impact high stakes test achievement years later? Here at Westfield Elementary, the answer is a resounding yes.
A rural Title I school, Westfield enrolls 540 students in grades K-5. More than 60 percent of our students are considered at-risk. Yet, 92.7 percent of students in grades 3-5 performed at or above grade level in reading and math on the North Carolina ABCs End-of-Grade tests in 2004-2005. Of our district’s 16 schools, Westfield was the only school to achieve “High Growth” — the highest designation — on the state tests.
How did we achieve such remarkable results? A major contributor to our success is the Waterford Early Reading Program?,
a comprehensive early reading curriculum created by the Waterford Institute and distributed by Pearson Digital Learning. The Waterford Early Reading Program connects motivating software, continual assessment, classroom lessons, and student take-home materials to present explicit and systematic instruction in Reading First’s five essential reading components: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
Every kindergartner works on Waterford 25 minutes a day in our computer lab. At-risk first and second graders use the program 20 minutes a day. Students enjoy Waterford’s digital music, graphics and animation. It fosters an early love for reading and a passion for learning.
Parents appreciate Waterford’s take-home materials, including books, videos and newsletters.
And, we all enjoy our “Wonderful Waterford Wednesdays” when each student selects one Waterford book to take home and keep. By year-end, each child has a library of 52 books and four videotapes.
Since implementing Waterford in 2002-2003, our students have achieved impressive gains.
We compared Waterford kindergartners with a historical control group using assessments that included concepts of print, phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, high frequency word recognition, and reading level from miscue. Across all five assessments, Waterford students outperformed the control group. In reading level from miscue, Waterford students showed the strongest gains, with 39 percent more students above grade level, 19 percent more on grade level, and 33 percent less below grade level.
In addition, the need for first grade remediation has drastically decreased. While we used to employ several tutors and teaching assistants to provide remediation in reading, we now need only one part-time tutor.
This year, the first kindergartners to use Waterford are now in third grade. On the ABCs Third Grade End-of-Grade Reading Pretest, these students scored more than 10 percent higher than those who did not have Waterford in kindergarten.
The Waterford Early Reading Program is more than just a system to help students learn to read; it is an investment in their current and future success.
To learn how Waterford can support the development of early reading skills, visit www.pearsondigital.com/waterford/advert and download a free video demo. Or call 1.888.977.7900.
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