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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Local School District Reformats Reading Program

Education, Featured

Children reading books | Image by ESB Professional

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Some local schools are taking a different approach to reading. Usually, children are assigned books individually or as a class and then asked to discuss or write a report on what they read. While this has been a standard approach for decades, the Fort Worth Independent School District is now encouraging children to choose stories that capture their interests.

FWISD tried the “read what you enjoy” format with a few of its schools earlier in the year, and the program has been successful.

“I want to be a soldier when I grow up, and I like hearing about war stuff,” Logan Rivera told NBC DFW. He is currently reading about the American Revolution.

The goal is to instill a love of reading and develop the child’s reading skills simultaneously, a method that is common as it mimics how many people read outside the school setting.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many children switched from in-person to virtual learning. As classroom instruction morphed into remote learning, students often struggled to maintain their previous reading levels.

According to a study from the University of Oregon, 29% of kindergarteners were far behind in learning to read during the 2019-2020 school year; for the 2021-2022 academic year, that figure had increased to 37%.

When students returned to FWISD, some were three grade levels behind; however, the district now claims that 80% of students have caught up to their expected reading level.

Marilyn Moore, a professor at National University in La Jolla, California, who serves as the faculty director for the Reading Program, commented, “In the context of reading, interest is a person’s willingness to engage with specific content. Capturing students’ reading interest is important, as interest can impact students’ motivation to read.”

The Fort Worth ISD intends to put its interest-based reading program into effect throughout the district in the fall of 2022.

“We realized this is a lot more rigorous than what we’ve done in the past, so for those kids coming back in person, the rigor is high, but the students are rising to that,” said FWISD teacher Kathryn Cottrell.      

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