In the Fall of 2019, Michigan’s “Read by Grade Three Law” came into effect. The law states that if a child’s score on the English Language Arts M-STEP is more than one year below grade level, the child will be retained in the third grade. At present, similar legislation exists in 27 states with Alabama due to join in 2021-22.
With direct costs of roughly $10, 700 for every student retained and the negative impact of retention on long-term achievement, districts such as Dearborn Public Schools have been eager to enhance the reading outcomes of students in the early years of elementary school. Efforts include screening assessments within the first 30 days and developing Individualized Reading Improvement Plans (IRIP) for learners identified as having a reading concern.
As one can imagine, compliance with these and other initiatives has created a difficult situation for classroom teachers, who must preserve sufficient instruction time while maintaining a system of assessment and progress monitoring. Oral reading fluency testing and running records are examples of good practice that can fall by the wayside when teachers become too busy.
In 2018 reading recovery specialists and technologists from Dearborn Public Schools began working with Read Seed to develop a practice, assessment, and progress monitoring service capable of providing rich, actionable data on student reading without increasing the burden on already overworked teachers. The result is an efficient, easy-to-deploy solution that combines leveled readings, voice recording, and AI auto-grading capabilities in a web-based service that runs off the district’s computers.
Teachers are provided with a Read Seed course that contains enough readings to conduct weekly oral reading fluency and comprehension testing for the entire year. The process is simple: students 1) read aloud for one minute, 2) read again silently 3) answer comprehension questions based on what they’ve read. Words per minute (wpm), accuracy, and comprehensions scores are displayed on the student dashboard and compiled in simple, intuitive reports that teachers can use to identify those who require additional support.
In monitoring reading progress, it is important to evaluate students by referencing an external standard of achievement. Read Seed provides words per minute benchmarks suited to the learner’s age and reading level. Fall, Winter, and Spring benchmarks are clearly displayed for the teacher’s reference. Students who consistently fail to reach the benchmarks are candidates for further intervention. Read Seed reports also serve as a means of assessing the effectiveness of an intervention.
Keeping Students Motivated and Informed
With any goal-oriented reading program it is essential to provide students with detailed information about where they are at present and where they ought to be by the end of the year. Read Seed’s student dashboard displays how much they’ve read, their average words per minute, and their average accuracy. For each reading they complete students are rewarded with a fun seed character.