Academic Tools for Our Children’s Toolbox

January 15, 2019

Students at Turning Points work hard, every day, on their social, emotional skills.  They are consistently developing new “tools for their tool box” in preparation for returning to their sending schools.  Children that come to Turning Points often present with gaps in their education.  Many students have not been accessible to their education for multiple reasons; leading to deficits in their learning and further academic disengagement.  This year, Turning Points began a new academic endeavor to help students gain and strengthen their reading skills.

Two years ago, Jeanne Graham, Director of Cornerstone, piloted a direct instruction reading program called Reading Mastery.  Jeanne was excited about the progress she witnessed at Cornerstone and shared her information with the other NFI schools.  Our Educational Leader, Emily Poginy, worked with Jeanne to help get the Reading Mastery program off the ground at Turning Points.  Students were assessed in at the beginning of the school year and placed in groups according to their reading levels.  The program begins by “teaching phonemic awareness and sound-letter correspondence and moves into word passage reading, vocabulary development, comprehension, and building oral reading fluency.  Later lessons continue to emphasize accurate and fluent decoding while teaching students the skills necessary to read and comprehend and to learn from expository test”.  Students work with an instructor for 45 minutes in small groups.

Recently, students were re-assessed and we are excited to report that 48% of our students moved up a reading level.   In addition, students who engage in the program show marked improvement.  We are seeing a 90-95% participation rate on a daily basis.  We are so proud of the hard work that our students are doing every day.

I would like to do a “shout out” to all of our staff who have been trained to provide instruction to our students.  Staff spent a professional development day learning from a Reading Mastery trainer tin preparation to begin this program.  Teachers, special educators, classroom counselors, and administration have all expanded their skill set and worked together to provide this enriching opportunity for our children to have more “tools in their toolbox” as they become fluent readers and work toward their goal of returning to their public school.

Submitted by Beth Brookes, Program Director, Turning Points