Portales schools tops in Reading First

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

No child is getting left behind in Portales schools, when it comes to reading on the kindergarten through third grade level, anyway. Portales schools were recently ranked first in the state in the Reading First program.

During a Tuesday night Portales School Board meeting, Trina Lujan, director of Federal Programs informed the board that while New Mexico ranked first in the Western region under the Reading First program, that Portales Schools ranked first on a state-wide level.

“All of our kindergartners were benchmarked by January,” Lujan announced. “I’m particularly proud of this. I’ve heard so many people say it couldn’t be done, but it was done!”

She noted that Portales came in first out of 96 schools in the state.

According to Lujan, research shows that the best asset that can be given to children as they learn to read is time, and under a three-tier process, students were given supplemental time for reading in the classroom. The three-tier process worked as follows:

• Tier one – Core instruction (90 to 120 minutes)

• Tier two – Intensive intervention (30 minutes)

• Tier three – Supplemental instruction (30 minutes)

According to the Reading First Web site, Reading First was authorized as part of the No Child Left Behind Act and is the first and the largest and most focused early reading initiative ever undertaken in this country. The program provides states, districts and schools with funding to implement scientifically based reading instruction for students in grades K through 3.

According to Lujan, students at L.L. Brown Elementary increased their reading benchmarks by 60 percent during the 2007-2008 period and after several years of remaining at 33 percent, she said James Elementary finally made a big difference this past year as well.

In other business on Monday night, the school board:

• Approved bylaws by the Portales Soccer Boosters Club.

• Recognized the Portales High School Speech and Debate team which recently qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., in June. Members include: Sunny Liu, Daniel Perez, Joe Sisneros and Christian Townsend. Sponsors are Martha Crane, Becky Walker and Wendy Brooks.

• Adopted a Sufficiency of Funding for New Mexico’s Public Schools and its distribution resolution. The resolution states that while funding for New Mexico’s public schools was equitable, it is nevertheless, not sufficient.