|Oxford Middle School algebra teacher Heather Smith works with eighth-grade student Auburn Ramey. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star|
OXFORD — A reminder to WIN greets students in almost every class this week at Oxford Middle School.
The message — to understand the What of everything they read, find the important Information, and Narrow it to the shortest summary possible — is part of a statewide reading program the school was among the first to adopt.
A new report from the Alabama Department of Education shows it’s working, and state officials hope the results are convincing enough to the Legislature come budget time.
Since 1998, the Alabama Reading Initiative has focused intensive training on students in grades K-3. The program began at 16 schools, and the Legislature provided money to put it in every school in the state last year.
The investment appeared to pay off, as Alabama fourth-graders showed the largest gains in the nation on reading scores this year.
But eighth-grade students in the state held steady. The ARI-Project for Adolescent Literacy aims to change that.
ARI-PAL began in 14 pilot schools—selected from 26 applicants—last year, including Oxford Middle.
Principal Janice Williams said the school’s commitment to train teachers and use the research-based methods won the school its status as a pilot site.
“We would all agree that (reading instruction in upper grades) has been the overlooked area,” she said.
“A lot of times this is the crucial age. They’re either going to make it or break it here. We need to get them the intervention to save these students at risk of dropping out.”
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