Recognizing achievement

USD 490 elementary schools are continuing their efforts to help students improve their reading skills. The latest program they started was called Lexia, and they were recognized at the last USD 490 School Board meeting for achieving an award for their success with the program.
Lexia was started a few years ago and was started with the purpose of looking for something to impact reading scores for students at all levels, but primarily those who were struggling.
"We started the program last school year," said Skelly Assistance Principal Chad Schuetz, who was instrumental in getting the grant.
They applied for the grant in November 2013, and after receiving it did training with the teachers, then started the program in january of 2014.
"When we wrote the grant we could choose what population we target," Schuetz said. "For us, based on data, we chose it to be a tier 2 intervention."
They had the students split into tier 1, 2 and 3 levels.
The program is computerized and is used during their MTSS times. Other students use it during the after school program at Skelly and it also is available for them to use at home if parents have a password and the app for it.
Michelle Neuschafer, a first grade teacher at Skelly who ran the groups last year and this year, has been pleased with the program.
She said it begins with the students taking a placement test to see what level they are at.
"This allows them to work at their pace," Neuschafer said.
Then once they become successful at a level they move on.
"The program decides when the student needs to move on," Neuschafer said.
"It looks to fill skill gaps they have," Schuetz added.
It looks at such areas as phonics, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, world analysis and more.
While the students work on their own on the program, it does alert teachers if extra assistance is needed with a red apple at the bottom of the screen and in the reports on the students activities.
"We try to let them do it on their own but if there is a question we will help," Neuschafer said. "The program also allows the teacher to instruct on something they are struggling on."
It also allows for other teaching.
"Since the group is smaller, as kids get further along, we are able to pull kids one at a time and work on other skills a couple of minutes each day," Neuschafer said.
She said she has seen students' reading ability and vocabulary increase with the program.
Then at the need of a unit, the students are presented with a certificate. The program also has other incentives built in along the way to encourage students to keep going.
Jan Prather, Skelly Title I teacher, said the program also seems to go back and check on things students have completed. She said if there is an area a student was slower in, then a day or two later that same question will come up again. Then if students miss several items in an area it will go into teaching mode.
"It changes according to their needs," Prather said.
"We've had a lot of success over the last year since we implemented that program," Schuetz said. "For some kids the computerized interaction is better because it gives them something different."
Neuschafer said she never has kids who complain and they all enjoy the program.
"We've seen a lot of success with some of our middle kids that just need a little bit of extra help," she said.
Jan Prather, Skelly Title I teacher, agreed the students have made a lot of progress.
"It is so great to watch a whole class of kids working independently on the things they need," Prather said. "The kids love it."
One of the students agreed, saying the program was real fun.
"The teachers are very supportive of the students placed in the program and have several kids making gains utilizing this program and several kids who have graduated from Lexia," Schuetz said.
The grant was provided through the Kansas Reading Initiative, which also presented Skelly elementary and USD 490 with the award for outstanding Kansas reading initiative results.