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Focus on Reading, Curriculum Yields Gains

Graphic organizers to help with student writing and requirements for more outside reading helped schools in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to make noticeable gains. One school made adequate yearly progress after falling short the past few years. Included: Examples of strategies to improve reading, writing.

An article in The Ann Arbor News noted that the success students have had in the Ypsilanti, Michigan, school district had to do in part with tweaking the curriculum and additional efforts by teachers. "Just a few short years ago, students at Ypsilanti's Erickson Elementary School were receiving failing marks from the state in math, reading, and writing," according to the article

"Those marks, as measured by the Michigan Education Assessment Program, have improved enough this year for Erickson students to meet the adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act."

Principal Kevin Carney told The Ann Arbor News it took some outside-of-the-box thinking to improve the test scores at Erickson.

"'Our kids were writing well,' Carney said in the article. 'But they were not writing descriptively enough or organizing their thoughts well. So we began to use graphic organizers, such as a writing web, to give students visual steps to help organize their thoughts'"

In addition to the web, students are writing more papers in which they must use persuasive skills to make their arguments, Carney told the paper.

He credited the turnaround in writing and other subjects to his teachers. "'Their commitment has been very strong,' he said in the article. 'I'm pleased their hard work has paid off'"

The principal at Lincoln's Redner Elementary, Dave Northrup described a similar approach, according to the paper. One key was to more closely align school curriculum to the MEAP.

"'We made adjustments based on what the state wanted,'" Northrup said in the article Redner students were required to read for 20 minutes three nights each week at home, the article noted. Northrup said in the paper that the program was based on a simple concept. 'The best way to improve reading skills is to read."


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

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