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MNW Second Chance students improve reading skills

Officials:?Some students turn into avid readers, others raise their test scores

November 28, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

MANSON - The Second Chance Reading program at Manson Northwest Webster Senior High School is a reading improvement program for its ninth- and 10th-grade students who struggle with reading.

"The program is designed to really help students just think about how they read," teacher Kim Keller said. "The goal is to move them from being passive readers to becoming more active readers, to help them ask questions and think critically about what they read while they're reading."

SCR focuses on helping students improve the critical thinking skills they need to read and fully comprehend reading materials, said Shawn Holloway, Junior and Senior High principal.

"The students who are in that program, their test scores have definitely shown improvement," he said. "It's a valuable class that allows our struggling readers to make up ground."

A goal of the SCR program is for its students to spend more time reading and actively practicing techniques that will help them become more involved in their reading, so that they can eventually be better readers, Keller said.

"The results always vary from one student to another, but overall we see a general improvement in the scores of kids who actively engage in the second chance reading process," she said. "We've had really good results with kids based on their ITED scores."

Keller said she engages her students by reading aloud and modeling these reading techniques and active reading strategies.

"I'll stop and I'll ask questions, or I'll draw an inference, or I'll make a prediction," she said. "Those are three of the most important techniques that really strong readers do naturally. They don't necessarily realize they're using those techniques, but they are."

Students who struggle with reading don't naturally employ these techniques, Keller said, but by modeling them, the hope is that the students will be able to use them when reading on their own.

A key to the success of the SCR program is that Keller gives her students books that are equally at their reading level and that interest them.

"They're more likely to latch on to an author or series of books that they really enjoy, and so they find themselves reading more than some of them have ever read before," she said.

One result is that some students, but not all, become enthusiastic readers.

"Frequently they're not, and the reason that they're not usually very excited about reading is because it's a struggle for them," Keller said. "How many of us like to do anything that's really hard for us? If something has always been a challenge for a student, then they generally don't like it a lot."

Most importantly, the students in SCR show growth in their reading skills and improvement on their test scores.

"I wish I could say every student who takes the program turns into this wonderful, active reader who just loves to read and never puts a book down. And that's happened before, but it doesn't happen all the time," she said. "Sometimes we just settle for being happy that we see improvement in their reading scores."

Keller said the program has been beneficial for her students.

"It's been proven to work and proven to increase test scores for students who take it," she said.

SCR will expand into the Junior High next year for its seventh- and eighth-grade students. Reading improvement at the Junior High also includes the TeenBiz 3000 program, with all seventh- and eighth-grade students participating, Holloway said.

"It's a supplemental reading comprehension program that's geared toward nonfiction articles," he said. "The gist of TeenBiz 3000 is our students are going to read this nonfiction article, and behind that there's some specific activities that sometimes mirror the ITBS."

TeenBiz 3000, which has been in place at the school for four weeks, is showing positive gains with the school's students, Holloway said.

"We're just trying to do anything we can intervention-wise to close that achievement gap," he said. "The better the reader you are, the better the academic success you're going to have."

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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