Read 180? Not in this district, apparently…

Thursday, October 1, I had the opportunity to spend another full day in the library media center facilitating the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) with senior English students.  This gave the students some much needed practice with reading stamina, focus, and objective test-taking strategies covered in class.  It also gave them an individualized report detailing their current reading Lexile levels and suggested Scholastic books in their range for Independent Reading.  With the LMS’s assistance, students were then directed to the OPAC to find books they were interested in reading and checking out on these lists.  This was an interesting experience for me and the students; I was thrilled to see them try very hard to achieve on this assessment, but we were all shocked at how low some of the scores were.  In an at-risk population, socio-economic statistics alone suggest that these students not only face barriers to learning that other students may not, but also that they may read and achieve below grade level.  I had no idea, however, that I would see 12th graders reading at the 4th or 5th grade level.  I am not one to take one assessment as law, but even if they weren’t particularly focused on doing their best, I really think they should have scored higher than 600 on this test if they are appropriately placed in senior English without special education services or an Individual Education Plan.  I saw students devastated by their scores, feeling stupid and defeated.  On the same token, I had students competing for the highest Lexile in the same group.  It is amazing to me the power that a multiple choice test score can have over a person.

In response to the average to below level scores, I spent the rest of the day looking at intervention programs that might help support these students in gaining some serious ground before they leave this school and try to move into college or career. This would of course serve a dual purpose – students would get some much needed, individualized support, and the school would undoubtedly see gains in reading achievement.  The first natural step was Reading 180, offered by Scholastic.  I got very excited after reading through some of their research because the program seems interactive, brings to mind some of the positive experiences the students had with Accelerated Reader in elementary and middle grades, and may parts of it are free to educators.  I immediately consulted the LMS, and she was all for using it.  I then reached out to the district Literacy Specialist and our in-house Goal Clarity Coach (GCC) for contacts in the district that have successfully used it in high school.

That’s where I hit a brick wall in some ways.

Apparently, the use of this program is not recommended by my district, and is not being used by any high school teachers to the knowledge of the specialists because it is mainly geared toward middle school students and has not been implemented with fidelity in the past.  I am still at liberty to use this program, as the GCC was quick to say, if in my professional opinion I think it will benefit students.  Well, I have to say that I was pretty shocked by the response from the district!  When the average Lexile level (and ACT score for that matter) of my students indicates that they are reading at a middle school level, it seems sound to meet them at that level to bring them up to where they need to be!  With the support of the library media center and LMS, we could implement a program like Read 180 with fidelity and help these kids soar!  Like I said, I can do what I want, as I have professional autonomy to make the best decisions for kids in my school building, but it just kind of took me off guard to meet this response.

So, I spent another hour attending a perfunctory introduction to the use of Edgenuity, which is a program I have already used for various things, from credit recovery to supplemental instruction, and now both the LMS and I are trained and have access to the program.  I partnered with the Building Assessment Coordinator to set up a plan for using Edgenuity’s resources to supplement regular instruction with Edgenuity courses that do no count for recovery credit, and I think we have a plan to utilize the library media center for this support a couple of days per week for at least one trimester this year.  I plan to keep a close eye on assessment data to see if we think it really helps students achieve higher, and will present it to the specialists when we are finished using it.


Student takes a much needed break after SRI testing to read independently a text of her choice.

Today is Parent-Teacher Conference Day, so that means, as an at-risk teacher and future LMS, that I have lots of time on my hands.  I am spending the time finishing up the shelf-talkers, so stay tuned!

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