Portales elementary schools above average in reading

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Elementary school principals from three Portales schools teamed up at Monday’s regular board meeting to give the Portales school board an overview of how students are doing on reading achievement.

The principals reported results from the statewide Reading First program that showed Portales doing well against statewide averages that include approximately 90 schools.

The program serves kindergarten through third grade and Portales was performing slightly above the state average for benchmark student reading and strategic (at risk) readers and right on the state average in the intensive (students requiring extra work) category.

Most notable among the results was Brown Early Childhood Center leading the entire state at the benchmark level at 94 percent achievement, compared to 87 percent for the next nearest school.

“Children in kindergarten do make tremendous gains,” BECC principal Jackie Burns said. “Our teachers do work very hard on this though.”

Board member Mary Lou Rowley questioned Burns as to how they were remediating children who were behind and what had created the successes.

Burns attributed the success to a rigorous evaluation of each individual student every two weeks and the ability to quickly and continually make adjustments to meet each particular child’s needs.

Burns said the schools were also sharing Reading First data with programs such as preschools and Head Start that are feeding students to the schools.

Becky Flen, principal at Steiner Elementary shared successes in her first-graders oral reading fluency results reported by Reading First.

She said it is not unusual for first-graders achievement to slip back midway through their grade year because of the fluency test. This year those scores were up.

“I was excited and I’m still excited because we worked so hard at getting that oral reading fluency up,” Flen said. “If you see a teacher give them a pat on the back because they did such a great job,” she told the board members.

James Elementary School principal rounded out the presentation with information about the volunteer efforts of students in grades K-3 which he said was important in developing good citizens.

“It’s important that we do this all year and not just when we get our AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) scores,” Rowley said of the report on student achievement. “We need to show people how good our schools are, and they are very good.”