LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Elgin Foundation representatives dominated the discussion at the Laurel County school board meeting in the G.C. Garland Building Monday night. The first data gathered from the $1.5 million literacy program was presented to the board and the district’s principals.
“Your district is a phenomenal district,” Linda Vinson, Elgin Foundation educational consultant, said. “You have phenomenal teachers that have embraced a complete change, and it’s a big change.”
With the changes in elementary teaching, parents of the upper percentile proficient readers have noticed a drop in classroom scores, school board member Tommy Smith pointed out.
Lynn Fielding, Elgin Foundation educational consultant, confirmed there had been drop in scores, and it has been addressed. It is a commonality in most districts to see fluctuations at the beginning of the program because it focuses primarily on the lower percentile of students not the higher percentile, he said.
There was a nine percent increase in students reading at or above the 50 percent reading level since the fall. The district’s first results are statistically average nationally, Fielding noted.
“Growth within the first year is easy, growth becomes progressively more difficult (thereafter),” he said.
The program’s target is to see two years of literacy growth in a single year.
The Elgin program has initiated a comprehensive intervention of reading, writing and language arts -- it is not a core program, Fielding said. It has increased instructional time from about 120 minutes a day to more than 150 minutes.
“More times on tests and more directional teaching,” Fielding explained.
Hunter Hills Principal Brian Bond said it’s almost like a contest for students when taking tests and they have become more aware of their reading level.
“We are a large school with a high poverty rate. The Elgin program is a lot of work; teachers and assistants do things they’re not used to doing and work harder,” Bond said. “The children are really benefitting from it.”
Fielding had commented during the presentation that lower reading scores correlate with poverty levels, but are not caused by poverty.
The Elgin Foundation’s intention in the next two years is to build an internal capacity of trained instructors for the Laurel County school district.
“The goal is to change the landscape in the community, so they have the opportunity to go to college if they so desire,” Vinson said.
Staff writer Magen McCrarey can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org