Teachers want higher goals for first-graders

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales teachers are aiming for higher reading-level goals for elementary students who have trouble reading in the Reading Recovery Program, which is going into its seventh year.

The goal of the Portales teachers in the Reading Recovery Program is to have a higher number of Steiner Elementary students go from below average reading levels to average or above average reading levels after at least 20 weeks of instruction.

Program teachers sit with their students and provide one-on-one instruction. The program group had 113 students from Artesia, Dora, Portales and Clovis. Of those, 80 were in the first grade at Steiner Elementary.

“It’s an accelerated program,” Carolyn Howard, teacher leader of the Reading Recovery Program, added. “These are children which have extreme difficulty in learning how to read.”

The teachers took a group of first-graders, mostly with below average-reading levels (77 percent) and helped 58 percent of the students reach at least average reading levels so the students could discontinue the program.
“This program is extremely important for these children,” Howard said. “We want to set a goal of 60 percent for the 2005-06 school year.”

Howard said she was pleased with one of the statistics from the program for the 2004-05 school year. Howard said 18.2 percent of the reading recovery students who are Hispanic achieved at least average reading levels while other Hispanic students picked at random had at least 17.1 percent reach average reading levels.

She was concerned about the Anglo students in the Reading Recovery Program because 19.4 percent of the Anglo students in the program accomplished at least average reading level scores while 21.9 percent of the randomly selected Anglo students reached at-least average reading level.

• Dierdre Washburn, a Brown Elementary teacher, summarized her trip to Brazil to view the school systems in Brazil and how they work. Washburn was one of 14 New Mexico teachers who got to visit Brazil through the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship.

Washburn said she was able to tour classes with grades from first through fourth. Washburn said 90 percent of the Brazilian school students join the workforce immediately after graduating.

“She’s a tough lady,” Jackie Burns, Brown Elementary principal, said. Burns said Washburn could only take with her what she could fit into a backpack while she was there for 36 days and at times had to sleep in a hammock. “She represented our school and our district very well, I’m sure.”

• The Portales School Board members approved the recommendation from Fowler to award the bid to lease vehicles for school activities from Tillery Chevrolet of Moriarty.

The annual price for each suburban is $8,734 (there are two) and $7,235 for a 3/4 ton four-door pickup. The other bid was from Hamilton General Motors of Portales with the annual price for each suburban at $11,745 and $8,030 for the pickup.

• The next school board is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Oct. 12.