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Improving Literacy With Reading First

Using the Reading First program at Norton Elementary School in Norton, Virginia, has led to gains in reading scores, professional development for staff, and more cooperation among teachers. Included: Examples of how Reading First helped an elementary school.

According to an article in the Coalfield Progress of Virginia, "Students and teachers at Norton Elementary School are almost fully adjusted to Reading First, a grant-funded reading initiative that's part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001."

Norton Elementary has become a local model for what the Reading First program can accomplish, said Susan Forkner, the reading coach at the school.

"We are a school that other counties are coming to visit," Forkner told the Progress. "I'm really proud of these teachers. They've really incorporated the program and gone with it. At first, it made their work a little bit harder. Now they see they're working smarter, not harder."

The school's success means more grant money, the article stated. "Funding is authorized under Title I part B of the No Child Left Behind Act, and is awarded on a year-to-year basis. Norton was one of the first Virginia schools awarded a six-year entitlement grant, and received $186,000 for the 2005-06 school year.... To receive grant funding, a school must continue making positive progress."

While much of the grant money goes to materials such as books, computer programs, and educational games, a good percentage is funneled into teacher training, including paying for a master's degree program.

"Twelve teachers from Norton Elementary are participating in a reading specialist master's program through Emory and Henry College," the article noted. "Books and classes are fully funded through the grants, and any Reading First teacher who wants to sign up can. The teachers have just completed their first year of classes, and will complete the program in May 2006

"One special benefit of the new program in Forkner's eyes is the teamwork between teachers in a grade level. Since all teachers in a grade level coordinate their efforts, rotating students of different learning levels between their classrooms, teachers are working together in teams."


Some of the information in this article comes from the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more about this article, you might read:

  • Norton Elementary Reading a Success.

    This news article appeared in the Coalfield Progress on September 6, 2005. Note: This link was live at the time of publication. Some newspaper Web sites require registration. Others retain complete news stories for a limited time.

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