Carson City, NV - August 24, 2016
When the Carson City School District learned it would receive funding through a competitive grant program authorized by Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 Act, it came up with an innovative summer reading program to help its English Language Learner (ELL) population. Results from the 16-day program were overwhelmingly positive.
“Research shows that our ELL students need more time,” said Cheryl Richetta, the English Language Arts Implementation Specialist who coordinated Carson City’s summer program. “We were able to provide it through the summer school program. This program included all elements of literacy - reading, writing, listening and speaking.”
The K-3 ELL summer school program was developed by Laura Austin, Carson City School District English Language Learner Program Director. This plan was designed for this group of students to receive literacy support through 16 days of additional instruction to ensure that they are able meet Nevada’s required reading standards.
Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 Act (SB 391) was created by the 2015 Legislature. This law was designed to dramatically improve student achievement by ensuring that all students will be able to read proficiently by the end of the third grade. By October, 2015, Nevada school districts and charter schools had the opportunity to apply for competitive grant funds. The Carson City School District was one of the 10 programs that were awarded these funds for the 2015-16 school year.
The 16-day June summer school program ultimately impacted a total of 438 students. The Carson City School District’s 2015-2016 testing data showed about 60 percent of students in the Kindergarten through third grade level were able to meet their own grade level requirements, while only 45 percent of ELL students met that mark. Richetta described how the program aimed to prevent what she termed the “summer slide.” Instead of being home watching TV or playing video games, students were engaged in literacy instruction to help bridge the gap between summer and fall.
The Carson City School District received $400,000 for the summer school program, which covered curriculum and materials, staffing, and summer school professional development. All students were also provided with transportation and breakfast. The results of the students who participated in this program demonstrated an impressive increase in their scores from pre-test to post-test.
All grade levels were impacted with the following sampling:
• Kindergartners increased their test scores on a key word test by 90.3 percent
• First graders increased their reading test scores by 75.2 percent
• Second graders increased their grammar test scores by 79.1 percent
• Third graders increased their grammar test scores by 75.2 percent
The students were not the only participants in this program who gained from this unique ELL summer experience.
“Not only did the data show that our students benefited from the summer session, but we received overwhelming positive feedback from our teachers who participated in the program,” Richetta said. “The students who participated clearly showed growth.”
This program exemplifies the spirit of SB 391 by providing meaningful literacy interventions to a group of students who, with intensive support, are able to successfully counter the unfortunate downward learning trends that often occur with the all too familiar “summer slide.”