Moffat County School District to keep popular literacy program in response to teachers’ pleas |

Moffat County School District to keep popular literacy program in response to teachers’ pleas

Lauren Blair

Student Matthew Jessen reads an R.L. Stine “Goosebumps” book as part of the Passport to Reading Program at Sandrock Elementary School. The school district has decided to keep the Accelerated Reader program — which helps teachers measure students’ comprehension of the books they read — in response to input from many teachers who rely on the program in their classrooms.

— News that a program associated with Passport to Reading was on the chopping block this month brought forth cries from parents and teachers who were unhappy to see it go, leading to a decision from Moffat County School District administration Thursday to retain the program for the coming school year.

Parents Jobeth Tupa and Chris Jones presented more than 25 letters from parents, teachers and young students to school board members and administrators at last week’s board meeting, asking them to keep the program, Accelerated Reader.

“I do have a young reader and a child who is on a read plan, and bribery and threats (haven’t worked) and for some reason, Passport’s worked and he’s read 21 more books than he would have otherwise read,” Tupa said at the meeting.

AR supports the Passport to Reading program by offering short comprehension quizzes on upwards of 150,000 books. It allows teachers to not only confirm students have read what they said they did but also to monitor students’ reading and comprehension levels and progress.

Passport to Reading encourages reading among fourth- and fifth-graders by giving them a passport marked with more than 20 genres, in which they receive stamps for each book read. Every student who tallies at least 20 stamps by the end of the year is invited to a barbeque complete with prizes for top readers.

“Oftentimes it can be hard to motivate students when there isn’t an immediate result or outcome,” wrote second-grade teacher Alida Crookston in a letter to administrators. “The Accelerated Reading Program can offer that motivation for many students, it allows for and encourages students to be involved with setting goals for their own growth, and to be involved in their own learning outcomes.”

MCSD Director of Curriculum and Assessments Amy Ward said that while Passport to Reading was never slated to disappear, the administration reconsidered the merit of AR after hearing more from teachers in the past week about its value and use to them.

“There’s just been an outpouring of information from teachers, and although we do think there are other ways to measure student independent reading and our incentive program, we just feel at this time, that staff have expressed their appreciation for the ease (of the program),” Ward said.

While AR has provided motivation and incentives for many students to read more challenging books in greater numbers — more than 175 elementary students read a record-breaking 6,066 books in the 2014-15 school year — it has had the opposite effect for others, Ward said. Some teachers have asked for alternative methods to reach more kids.

“Accelerated Reader is a double-edged sword. I agree that there are some students that it works for, but there are some students it doesn’t work for,” Ward said at last week’s meeting.

Though the district will keep AR, administrators chose to eliminate other popular assessment programs STAR Reading and STAR Math — also addressed in the letters from teachers and parents — in order to reduce the number of assessments students take.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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