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Read to Achieve summer camp promotes literacy to third graders

Lindsay Peck works with students in a summer reading camp at Rocky River Elementary, part of the Read to Achieve Initiative.

A UCPS summer reading camp is making great strides toward putting third graders on track for promotion to the fourth grade.

The summer reading camp is part of the Read to Achieve initiative, born from the Excellent Public Schools Act that came into law in North Carolina in 2012.

Under this state law, third-grade students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade will receive special help, including summer reading camp and other interventions to make sure that they can read well enough to be able to do fourth-grade work.

Read to Achieve was implemented in Union County Public Schools at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, affecting all third-grade students. The goals of the initiative focus on early childhood education as well as reading.

“The program affirms a lot of the great things we’re doing in literacy, and it recognizes that many of the practices, recommendations and requirements of the law that came into place, are ‘old hat’ for Union County Public Schools,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Programs Dr. John Jones, Jr.

“One thing that the program emphasizes is that UCPS has already done a good job in involving parents in the process,” Jones said. “Principals and teachers are always looking for ways to improve our students, but without that parent piece, we’re not going to be successful,” Jones added.

The Read to Achieve initiative includes a summer camp for students who are not proficient by the end of the school year. There are 445 students in the summer camp, some of whom are in private tutoring.

There are six summer campsites, including a year-round program at Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts. The other sites are Poplin, Sandy Ridge, Rock Rest, Rocky River and Fairview elementary schools.

The summer camp at Rock Rest Elementary, for example, has 79 students who are being taught in eight classrooms. The class size is small by design, having only eight to 10 students per teacher.

Rock Rest Elementary Assistant Principal Keitha Rodden is the site administrator for the summer camp at her school. This site has students from the East Union cluster, which includes Union, Rock Rest, Marshville and Wingate Elementary Schools.

“It’s been wonderful,” Rodden said. “The classrooms only have between eight to 11 students, so the teachers are able to focus individually on the child’s need, offer small groups and provide more targeted instruction that will hopefully get students to meet their grade-level expectations.”

Rodden said her students have been doing very well, thus far. “Our goal is for students to improve but we also want them to gain some confidence and hopefully be able to pass the test at the end of summer camp.”

Kelly Romanowski, summer campsite administrator for Rocky River Elementary, said her school has 73 students, which come from Rocky River, Prospect, Wesley Chapel, New Town and Western Union Elementary Schools.

“It’s structured and intense,” Romanowski said. “It’s a great program. The structure is the biggest strength. It’s literacy rich. You can’t go wrong with that.”

Romanowski said the purpose of the summer initiative is to grow readers by building the student’s comprehension, fluency and phonic skills. “It’s a great way to do the intensive reading instruction to build those readers,” she said.

“Comprehension is the big one, accessing knowledge within text to answer questions, accessing their background knowledge, things they know in their own life, to understand what is happening in a story,” Romanowski said.

The summer camps offer breakfast, lunch and transportation to the school sites. Jones said the camps are funded by the state.

To read the law, go to the North Carolina Public Schools website and look at the North Carolina Read to Achieve guide, pages 38-45.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jul 01, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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