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Multimedia intervention program engages struggling readers at Washington school

SRA FLEX Literacy excites students and boosts test scores at Deer Park Middle School

Administrators and teachers at Deer Park Middle School in the Deer Park (Wash.) School District have been challenged in the past by the school’s multiple feeder elementary schools. “We have a lot of students coming from these very small schools with a low level of reading proficiency,” says Cassandra Kauppi, the learning assistance program teacher at Deer Park Middle School. Many were scoring below grade level on both state and district assessments. “Our school needed to find a solution to address that,” Kauppi says.

In August 2013, the school was given the opportunity to participate in a learning assistance program, in which state funds could be used for an intervention curriculum program for students struggling with language arts. Administrators at Deer Park Middle School chose to implement McGraw-Hill Education’s SRA FLEX Literacy. SRA FLEX Literacy is a three-tier, powerful reading and language arts intervention program that reaches students of any level, in grades three and up. The Digital Experience component of the program gives every student individualized, differentiated lessons to build reading skills. With the Print Experience, teacher-led shared reading lessons boost comprehension and analysis. And to help develop 21st-century skills, the Project Experience component gives students the opportunity to connect writing with whole class and small group collaborative activities.

“In Deer Park, our goal has been to become more data-driven,” says Travis Hanson, superintendent. “We selected SRA FLEX Literacy because it provides good data on student progress to drive instructional decisions.” After a day of in-person training and an online tutorial led by representatives from McGraw-Hill, Kauppi was ready to implement SRA FLEX Literacy in her seventh and eighth grade learning assistance programs. Results were immediate. Student engagement increased dramatically, according to Kauppi. “The Print Experience is amazing, because the included texts are not only at the right level, but of high interest to my students,” says Kauppi. As students’ interest increased, so too did their ability to interpret texts. “The students really enjoy reading together, interacting with text together, and having discussions together,” she says. “Working in groups with SRA FLEX Literacy has led to better questioning and summarizing strategies.” Through the Digital Experience, students are able to learn when Kauppi is unable to teach them. “I could never develop as many lessons for every student as the Digital Experience does,” she says. “The lessons are specifically tailored to the skills students need to work on, and there’s a great variety.”

The Project Experience gives students a more engaging way to develop written skills. “There’s a project in which students develop a brochure for an amusement park they have designed,” says Kauppi. “Students enjoyed working in the brochure format, inserting photos, and formatting the brochure to their particular style. They were highly engaged in the writing process and learned the same explanatory writing skills used in standard essay writing.” Kauppi administered a baseline SRA FLEX Literacy Lexile test at the beginning of the school year, and another after seven weeks of using the SRA FLEX Literacy program. Student scores improved by an average of 109 points. “Fluency has improved tremendously,” Kauppi says. “I love listening to the personality students are able to use when they read aloud now.” Hanson appreciates the look into the classroom SRA FLEX Literacy has given him. “It is easy for district or building administrators to pop into the SRA FLEX Literacy system to get a feel for how students are doing,” he says. “As a former curriculum director, I appreciate that transparency.”

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