Original Published 19:42 Apr 08, 2022

By Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division says reading skills are growing thanks to a new literacy project.

More than 100 students received interventions between October 2021 and January 2022, including 86 students through student support services. Results presented during the Monday, April 4 school division meeting show an average growth of 2.69 levels, with 48 students improving enough to meet their grade target.

 Education Director Lorel Trumier said that the division was excited by the results. She said concentrating support for those students made a large difference.

 “We had 110 students receive interventions so that’s amazing, plus another 47 in a guided reading which is a slightly different strategy,” Trumier said. “Both are very effective and we are very excited to share that information with the board.”

 PA Catholic created the program using education emergency support funds. Trumier said that decision is already creating positive development.

 “The board made a great decision and we get to see the fruits with just the first group of students,” she said.

 As part of the program, a half full time equivalent teacher has been assigned to St. Catherine Catholic School, St. John Community School, St. Michael Community School, St. Francis School and Ecole St. Anne School to support literacy needs at the elementary level.

 The program prioritizes students who are reading half a year below grade level in Grade 1 to Grade 3. These students are targeted to help boost their literacy skills.

 “Learning to read is one of those activities that you do when you read often and when you are sitting side by side with them,” Trumier explained. “It’s not easily attainable virtually and so we know that this is going to have  a very positive long lasting impact.”

 She said that the division was pleased by the results and the growth shown by each student in the program.

 “How much growth is obviously very dependent on the child and how things go for them, but when you think of just a 10 to 12 week program with daily support, it has really made a difference,” Trumier said.

 The April 4 report focused on just the first group of students. A second group has already started the program. Their results will be reviewed at a future meeting.

 As part of the program, students participate in one 35 minute small group reading intervention each day for approximately 12 weeks.

 Resources for the reading interventions include the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading System, Levelled Literacy Intervention System and Benchmark Assessment System.

 Collaboration between classroom teachers, student support services teachers and school administration is used to identify students who could benefit from the additional support and what type of intervention would work best for each student,

 “COVID hasn’t made this easy,” Trumier said. “In the transition of the reading groups we had to do sanitizing and cleaning of materials and it took a little longer than we had anticipated. It’s certainly an improvement, it certainly demonstrates that it’s worthwhile and we are seeing an average growth from Grade 2 to Grade 6 of two to four levels per students. That’s great.”

 Superintendent Charity Dmytruk and other members of her team presented the program results at the April 4 meeting.

This item reprinted from Prince Albert Daily Herald, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.