When Professional Development Leads to More Questions…

Yesterday I attended a professional development session in my county.  The session was called “3-4 Transition Readers” and it was to learn more about the rules and regulations behind Read to Achieve (RTA). I have four students with the “retained reading” label in my class, so I assumed it would be beneficial to learn strategies to reach these students.

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When I arrived, it seemed promising.  We learned the main rules of this program (which I have been drilled with since I began teaching fourth grade).  The most difficult one to grasp was the fact that our RTA students had to be in our classroom for ninety minutes of uninterrupted literacy.  Intervention teachers are allowed to push into our classrooms at this time, but they may not work in the hall at all and may not go to an intervention teacher in a different room.  This makes scheduling tough when your students are spread out across the grade level.  Intervention teachers then need to visit each of these rooms separately.  This led me to wonder why this is the case.  Someone else had similar confusion as me and asked that question.  The speaker seemed to go in circles without effectively answering the question.

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The next portion was spent discussing what the retained reading label actually meant.  To summarize my understanding of it, if students are identified they should be receiving additional support and be participating in two guided reading groups daily.  This part seemed logical to me especially with the support of an intervention teacher.  There are very few ways students can lose that label and they happen at only certain points in the year.  The first is to retake the Read to Achieve test in October.  None of the RTA students in fourth grade at my school passed this.

The next way to pass is to be reading at a level P at benchmark time for mClass, which only happens a few times a year.  The last is by doing multiple passages a week with these students hoping they pass the majority of them.

My main questions came into play in the next part.  If students pass any of these things, they lose the label but continue to receive services.  I understand they still need additional help, so this part seemed logical to me.  However, when they go to fifth grade the label is automatically removed from them.  My question is why does this label even matter?  We progress monitor in fourth grade and know to give intensive instruction to the students who need it in order to get on grade level.

I’m also wondering why fourth grade?  Why is this push being emphasized drastically in fourth grade when many studies show that you should be a fluent reader by third grade or your chances go down.

My thoughts are that the push should be focused in kindergarten and first grade so that by the time these kids get to fourth grade, they don’t have these deficiencies.  I’m curious what other people think of this and if there’s a key component I’m missing somewhere.

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I’m interested to hear from teachers in similar situations in North Carolina and ways that your school has dealt with all of the Read to Achieve laws.

 

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