Intervention program helps McPolin Elementary School readers learn
When the reading interventionists at McPolin Elementary School realized they did not have enough time to work with students, they added more hours to their day. They now arrive at the school at 7:30 a.m. to have one-on-one time with their students.
A team of five instructors launched a before- and after-school program at McPolin Elementary this school year. With the additional hours, the teachers are able to interact with students who are falling behind in their classes because they struggle with reading. The program is funded by the Park City School District, Park City Education Foundation and the Hall Family Fund.
Amy Warren, a reading interventionist, said she and the other instructors decided to start the program after they were hired at the school in 2017.
“We couldn’t meet the needs of all of the students during the school day,” she said.
Most of the students are reading two or three grade levels below where they should be based on their age, and Warren said it is important to work with them one-on-one or in groups of no more than three.
Bob Edmiston, principal of the school, said the program allows the instructors to maintain small groups, which is important for the student’s learning and progress.
“These students’ needs are so individualized, and the importance of relationship with the instructor is so vital to the student and their buy-in to the activity that three is a large group,” he said. “Having staff willing to put in that kind of time to work in these small groups benefits our whole school.”
Laura Todd, another interventionist, said the program allows the instructors to see an additional 10 to 15 students that they normally would not be able to. The program currently works with about 60 students both inside and outside school hours. It is free for families.
Warren said the level of work they do with the students would normally cost about $80 an hour for a private tutoring session. She said many of the families that they work with would not be able to afford outside tutoring.
“Being able to give the kiddos that we see the access to something that they normally wouldn’t be able to get if it wasn’t provided for them really helps level that playing field,” she said.
Most of the students the interventionists work with are still in the “learning to read” phase when most of their peers are at the “reading to learn” phase, Warren said. She said the students work extra hard to try to catch up.
“They’re falling further and further behind as the content, what they are reading, gets more and more difficult,” she said.
Todd said she wants all students to have the same opportunities, and helping them get a good foundation of reading sets them up for success.
“Their future opportunities are increased with accessing rigorous curriculum, knowing what is going on, as they get into junior high and high school, being able to take classes that are offered to everyone,” she said.
Many of the students the team works with start out not confident in school and are often afraid to participate in class. Warren’s favorite part about her work is when students gain confidence and start including themselves in the classroom.
“Seeing that switch from total dread to a little bit of interest to then wanting to do it and believing in themselves … it’s priceless,” she said.
Todd said based on the reading tests she does with the students, they are improving. She is glad to see the boosts in test scores, but she said she is most happy when the students pick up books on their own and “get lost in the stories.”
The program is funded until the end of the school year, but funding has not been secured for the following year. Todd said, regardless if they are paid or not, they will do what they can to make sure the program continues.
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