Rep. Nora Espinoza, center, meets with school officials for positive test scores. (Submitted Photo)
El Capitan Elementary School was recognized Wednesday with a visit from state Rep. Nora Espinoza for its outstanding achievement in reading.
According to officials, the school saw 41 percent of its third-grade students meet the state’s new rigorous third-grade reading expectations, versus a state average of 25 percent.
That’s a proficiency increase by five percentage points since the implementation of the DIBELS assessment program several years ago.
Principal Stacey Damon said these results were impressive because the school already received a high score on its initial tests.
“We had already started off fairly high, and in order to grow that much made it (the results), better. It’s easy to show improvement when you’re starting low, but when you’re starting way up high, to show growth, it makes it harder, so that’s what makes it (the results), really exciting. We were starting off at around 64 percent I think.”
The DIBELS program is an assessment tool for educators to monitor their students’ success in reading. Each year, K-3 students are given three benchmark tests, at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.
The tests help pinpoint students who are struggling. Those students receive specialized instruction according to the areas they need the most help in. They are then monitored every 10 days for improvement.
Once data from the tests are available, teachers are able to make appropriate action plans depending on student needs.
Damon said, “It’s really important for kids to have learned to read by the third grade, because from fourth grade, all the way up to 12th grade, the students aren’t learning to read anymore, they are reading to learn.”
The Roswell Literacy Council is there for adults who would like to improve their reading skills. The program offers one-on-one specialized tutoring for adults depending on their learning preferences and abilities.
Laura Danley, who is both a volunteer at the center and a board member, said she began volunteering with adults who wanted to improve their literacy skills after an experience she had volunteering in a homeless shelter when a woman came up to her and asked her to help teach her how to read again.
That happened in 1996, and Danley has been volunteering with literacy programs ever since.
“Reading is a gift that people in America have. There are so many places where people don’t get that chance, and to see a grown woman recognize that, and want it back, really had an impact on me,” Danley said.
The center is a supportive environment and is free to adults wanting to improve their skills. Though there is a fee for some of the materials, Council Director Andrae England said there are scholarships available.
England said, “When they come here, they are seeking and start finding. That’s a fundamental piece of it. All they have to do is come, and when you seek, you’ll find.”
Staff writer Bethany Freudenthal can be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or email@example.com.