Principals from all schools in Logan City School District presented what worked and what didn’t work with their goals from last school year to the Board of Education on Tuesday evening. Some goals were more successful than others.
Kenneth Auld, the principal at Logan High School, said LHS fell short of their goal to have 95 percent of students reading at grade level.
As is consistent with years past, schools set new goals, initiate different programs and techniques and see either increases or decreases in success rates. Auld said 40 percent of the students at LHS are currently reading below grade level.
“We had a much bigger problem with the number of kids that are not reading at grade level than anticipated,” Auld said. “I don’t think we were able to meet our goals because we did not provide enough support to be able to do that.”
The presentation of the goals, or school improvement plans, to the LCSD Board of Education is to show what is being done in the schools with grant money and identifies where new programs could benefit the students.
“I want to applaud the high school for addressing literacy,” said Frank Schofield, LCSD superintendent. “The reason (the school improvement plans) are powerful is because they help us focus on something that is more under our control than an end-of-year-assessment, it is more relevant based on our students’ needs in our schools and is more closely tied to what our teachers see as our needs.”
Auld said there is a new reading class to aid progress, and a new curriculum was purchased this year. He said this will help with the number of factors leading to a literacy deficiency in high school, including changing mindsets, an array of class subjects and habits.
Literacy remediation “looks different in high school partially because of how the students’ brains are developing and also because of how they are approaching reading,” Schofield said. Being a poor reader becomes a part of their identity and makes it more difficult for them to be excited to keep trying, Schofield said.
While reading intervention is more common in lower grades, it does not ensure everyone will be at the same level. Paul Wagner, principal at Mt. Logan Middle School, said it has a lot to do with the student’s background.
“We have this perception that if we get everyone in kindergarten on the wave as they are moving through first, second, third grade, that if we keep everyone on the bus as it is moving forward, we can get every kid,” Wagner said, “but the reality is that the wave started at age zero. We have kids entering kindergarten with a five-year learning gap because they were not read to at home.”
Practice at school and at home is a big factor to reading success Schofield said.
“The idea is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” Schofield said. “Those who can read read more and continue to become better readers. Those who don’t read well tend to read less and continue to fall behind.”
Wagner said this needs to be a community effort, and programs at all levels will benefit ongoing efforts to promote more confident readers.
“My goal is to create an atmosphere in the library that is comfortable for the students, where they know they are successful, where they know they are important and that books are fun,” said Kaye Gensel, the librarian specialist at Adams Elementary School.
Gensel said she sees the students come into the library and recognizes the stress they are under and sees how tired they are, which is why she implemented what she calls “two-minute brain breaks.”
“They get to pick a place in the room and we just lay down and we are quiet for two minutes,” Gensel said. “I’ve taught them some deep breathing and some positive thoughts to have running through their head.”
When literacy is difficult, students’ ability to progress in other subjects is affected as well. Auld said they are grateful to have this issue recognized, and while different techniques will help different students, they are now empowered to try to help provide strategies for students.