Student Progress in the Webster Parish, Minden, Louisiana resulting from use of the Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself approach
The Legislature of Louisiana, in its 1997 session, passed House Bill 2444 (Act 45) that states: "Effective with the 1997-98 school year, each governing authority of a public elementary school shall implement a reading program at each elementary school that is designed and intended to teach each student to read at grade level by no later than the end of first grade." It further states that the reading program shall include but need not be limited to a phonics component.
Following this directive, Webster Parish School Board in Minden, Louisiana implemented a four-pronged program during the 1997-1998 school year for all K-3 students in the twelve elementary schools in the district. It included:
1) Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself (both classroom and computer components) as a supplement to the regular reading program.
2) Extended school day program utilizing certified Discover Intensive Phonics teachers and other supplemental materials.
3) Accelerated Reader Programs in all school libraries.
4) Classroom libraries.
It is important to know that due to training schedules, software installation, pre-testing, etc., not all schools were able to utilize the Initiative plan in its entirety. Two schools used alternative phonics programs already in place during the first year. Several teachers did not fully implement the program, and first grade students did not begin Discover Intensive Phonics until January. Despite first year difficulties, Parish wide results reflected the following:
PARISH WIDE RESULTS
Following you will find graphs showing the composite summary of grade point gain by grades, percentage of students showing gain, average school gain and composite scores by school and grade. In addition one or two individual school Pre-Post test results are given that you may see how the summaries were achieved.
It is also important to know that in the first grade students who scored at or lower than 1.5 were considered reading below grade level, 1.6 through 1.8 were considered at grade level, and 1.9 and above were considered above grade level. The same ratio was used in 2nd and 3rd grade.
The reports indicate that greatest gains were shown in first grade and kindergarten, indicating the importance of a good start. Eighty percent of kindergarten students scored 70% or above in reading as measured by the Webster Parish Kindergarten Exit Test.
Gains in the 1998-1999 school year should be significantly higher since ALL teachers will be using the same approach, they will begin at the first of the school year, and teachers will be more familiar with the technique.