Lapoint Elementary focused on reading success

Lapoint Elementary focused on reading success
Posted on 02/09/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Lapoint Elementary focused on reading successLapoint Elementary may be the Uintah School District’s smallest school, but it’s making big progress when it comes to improving students’ reading skills thanks to a collaborative approach by the faculty and staff.

“The district goal this year is to reduce the number of students reading well below grade level by 35 percent,” Lapoint Principal Dennis Atkin said. “So far, Lapoint has reduced the number of students reading well below grade level by 37 percent and we still have the rest of the year to go.”

Developing strong reading skills is critical to success in all areas of education and in life, Atkin said. Two years ago, he and his team set a goal to have all students who have attended Lapoint for at least three years reading at or above grade level by 2023, as measured by the Acadience assessment tool.

“Over the years we’ve talked about growth, and yeah, we’d like to make growth,” Atkin said. “But the fact of the matter is proficiency is what really matters. Proficiency has the students ready for the next grade level.”

Each student was tested at the beginning of the school year to determine how well they read. Based on the results, the students were assigned one of four colors ‒ red, yellow, green, or blue ‒ which correspond with the Acadience indicators of well below benchmark, below benchmark, at benchmark and above benchmark.

The same colors were used to make a massive bulletin board that stretches along one wall of a classroom known as “The Sunshine Room.” Slips of paper with each student’s name and a red, yellow, green, or blue dot are attached to the bulletin board at various spots representing their reading journey since the beginning of the school year.

“During our benchmark times we move students up or down, wherever they go,” Atkin said, walking along the multicolored board. “You can see some red students moved to yellow, some moved to green, and some moved to blue with the support they received from their teachers and our reading coaches.”

Collaboration between classroom teachers and reading coaches is key to the success of the program, second-grade teacher Evvi Richens said.

“We progress monitor all month long and then we get together as a team and look to see if students are reaching their aimlines,” Richens said, referring to the trajectory needed for a student to reach or exceed benchmark by the end of the year.

“If they aren’t reaching their aimline, then we look in their “focus folders” and decide if what they are working on is working for them,” Richens said. “If it is, we stay with that course of action. And if it’s not, we make adjustments.”

The individualized focus folders are developed through a needs assessment performed with each student at the start of the school year, according to Lapoint reading consultant Rosa Eaton. Each focus folder session lasts only 10 minutes, targets the specific skills a student needs help with, and takes place outside their normal classroom with a reading coach. All students have at least one focus folder session a day, though some may have as many as three.

“The reading coaches will always mark what they did, who the student was and what grade level so we have data at the end of the week or the month,” Eaton said, adding that the data collected allows the school to tailor reading instruction and interventions to the specific needs of each student.

“It is a group effort like no other,” Eaton said. “We’re all focused on this one goal.”

Lapoint was making excellent progress toward reaching its goal in the spring of 2020 before schools were dismissed by the governor due to the pandemic. The dismissal meant there were no end-of-year assessments to help Atkin and his team find out where their students were. This year, they plan to complete the end-of-year assessments and look forward to the results.

“We’re right on target,” Atkin said.
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