Local districts address dip in reading levels with added student support, teacher trainings

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Friday, October 21, 2022
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Valley school districts are taking action to get student reading levels back on track.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley school districts are taking action to get student reading levels back on track. Districts we spoke with say students' reading performance took a hit amid distance learning.

The time spent distance learning had a big impact on student reading levels. A national study from i-Ready shows fewer students are on grade level in reading compared to past years.

Now, Valley districts are trying to turn that around and they're already seeing some progress.

"It's not going to be a quick fix. It's going to be a long haul," said Clovis Unified ELA Curriculum Support Judy Bower.

Clovis Unified is committed to getting student reading levels back on track.

"They've dipped and we expected that," said Bower. "We've been preparing for the past couple of years for that and now, our mindset is acceleration."

The district saw a 6% dip in English Language Arts performance since the pandemic, but they say the time spent back in the classroom is making a difference. 80% of Clovis Unified students are showing growth in ELA since Fall of 2020. Clovis Unified has added training for teachers, expanded its reading curriculum and provided extra ELA support.

"Teachers are getting trained and they're coming to Zoom meetings and live meetings," added Bowers. "We're going to teachers classrooms to observe what they're doing."

Reading levels are also a hot topic for Fresno Unified. Staff say currently over 17% of students are at or above grade level. That number was over 19% pre-pandemic.

FUSD has also added additional training for teachers.

"To be able to teach our students in a high impact way, to teach those reading foundational skills that research shows students need to learn to be able to read," explained FUSD Instructional Superintendent Carlos Castillo.

The district has also added programs like FIRST, which allows students to work on reading at their own pace. Another addition is ZORA.

"ZORA is an online library and these books read to the kids, " explained Castillo. "If the kids can't read, it will highlight the words and read to the kids and the kids can hear."

FUSD says the goal is to not only meet pre-covid reading levels but eventually exceed them in the coming years.