An intensive intervention for students reading far below grade level is being put into place with a new language arts curriculum that will target middle and high school students reading at least three levels below grade.
In Charles County Public Schools the program is unofficially known as supplemental language arts curriculum. According to Amy Hollstein, assistant superintendent of instruction, the program will be introduced to sixth- and ninth-graders this school year. It is designed to assist those who have fallen behind so drastically in their reading skills that they need extra assistance outside of the typical intervention programs.
The practice of actually learning to read, or “guided reading” will be introduced along with the curriculum books and texts presented at their present skill level.
Sixth-graders relegated to supplemental language arts still will enroll in an average course, which will contain both supplemental language arts students and those reading at an appropriate level.
For half the class, a teacher will facilitate the supplemental language students in guided reading strategies, the building blocks of reading taught in elementary school that for some reason did not stick, Hollstein said.
Those middle-schoolers up to par on reading and comprehension skills will be split from the supplemental language arts group and monitored by either another teacher or instructional assistant. The other half of the class will be taught with the students as a complete group.
Considering that the school system eliminated nearly all temporary and part-time positions due to a budget deficit, finding the manpower to monitor the language arts classes has required administration to “get creative,” Holstein said. The savings from the cut amounted to $1 million.
Ninth-graders will enroll in a separate language arts course and be taught many of the same skills as the sixth-graders, as needed.
“This is one of the top priorities of the school system, to have everyone reading on grade level,” Hollstein said.