Extra 30 minutes in the classroom is helping improve math and reading scores in Fresno Unified

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More time in the classroom has paid big dividends for Jefferson Elementary School in Downtown Fresno.

Jefferson is one of several sites in Fresno Unified that is a Designated School Model.

An extra 30 minutes a day or 80 hours a year is helping students improve in math and reading.

"We looked into the data and really looked into how kids were attacking text. And the ones who could read it weren't quite understanding what the text were saying and they weren't able to have a conversation about it or were able to write about it," Kail Isom-Moore, Jefferson Elementary Principal.

Isom-Moore added when the program began in 2014 only 22% of her students were reading at grade level. That number jumped to 42% last year.

The model focuses in on working with students one on one.

But the first step was to focus on the teachers with more training and workshops to build on a curriculum they already have.

"The thing that we need to use was the capacity of the teachers and the skill set of the teachers in order to ensure that when they do have that 30 minutes they are able to be very targeted and strategic in that instruction," said Isom-Moore.

The model started out with helping students who were behind the learning curve and it now includes students who are above the curve.

Jefferson Elementary is giving all parents and students better access to tutoring with a homework center, after-school programs, and the campus library.

"We got parents who have come in and say that you tell us to read twenty minutes a day but we don't have a book at home. And so we have increased the library time to ensure that they can come in and parents can check out books," she said.

A 3rd-grade class uses laptops to help students learn about reading and writing.

Students type up their assignments and e-mail their teacher when it is complete.

"With us actually incorporating more technology during our daily lessons it has actually helped with that. So not only are they getting the direct instruction from me as a teacher they also get to do a little more independent work on their own using the technology," said Juliana Bonilla, Jefferson Elementary Teacher.
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