Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 22, 2014

Summer program moves ahead

By Xiomara Levsen | May 02, 2014

RIVERSIDE—The Highland School District has received a grant from the Iowa Department of Education to offer a summer literacy program for elementary students this summer.
At the school board meeting on Monday, April 28, Ainsworth Elementary School principal Jane O’ Leary said the literacy program will be offered at Riverside and Ainsworth Elementary schools.
Students who are now in kindergarten to third grade, and who have a substantial reading deficiency will be the focus of the literacy program, O’ Leary said. The district uses a reading assessment called Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) to see if students have a reading deficiency.
An assessment will be given to the students at the beginning of the six-week literacy program to gauge what group the students should work in, O’ Leary said.
“We’re going to have 30 minutes of small-group instruction four days a week for six weeks this summer,” she said. “There will be no costs for that if you are in yellow or red for reading.”
There are still some logistics that need to be worked out with the program.
“There’s not enough funding to provide a bus to get people here, so we’re going to have to work it out,” O’ Leary said. “Mr. Ewald [Riverside Elementary School principal] has a lot of work ahead of us as far as trying to schedule all of that so parents can get their kids to the tutoring sessions and things like that.”
The grant is only for one year, but O’ Leary said that money may be available again next year for the program.
“Are we responsible for providing transportation?” asked board member Laura Scheetz.
O’ Leary said no. She said it would have been nice to have the option available for parents.
“For students that are not deficient that are interested, is there a fee?” Scheetz asked.
Ewald and O’ Leary haven’t discussed that option yet, O’ Leary said. A teacher asked if a student in fourth or fifth grade wanted to come, and if they were willing to pay a fee, would they be able to attend the summer literacy program.
“It’s hard not to help somebody who needs the help because they’re a grade late,” O’ Leary said, “but we haven’t addressed that yet.”
Highland is offering the summer literacy program because of the early literacy law, which was passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2012.
This law requires school districts to use universal screenings for students in kindergarten through third grade; use progress reports for students who show substantial reading deficiencies; provide 90 minutes of daily scientific, research-based reading; notify parents about the students’ reading deficiency and the progress the students make; and retain students who aren’t reading at a third-grade level, who didn’t attend a summer reading program, or who doesn’t qualify for an exemption, according to the law.
These requirements are expected to be in place by Aug. 1, 2014, the law said.
Board member Rachel Longbine asked if retaining a student meant holding the student back.
O’ Leary said yes. The requirement to hold a student back goes into effect on May 1, 2017. There are exceptions to this rule but O’ Leary said she doesn’t know what all of the clauses are.
The dates for the six-week literacy program have not been set, O’ Leary said.  



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