SCCSD K-3 students achieve Siouxland’s highest increase on state assessment
On Wednesday, September 5, Governor Kim Reynolds announced progress on Iowa’s goal to improve the reading skills of students in kindergarten through third grade. The share of Iowa students in kindergarten through third grade who met or surpassed benchmarks used to measure statewide progress in reading increased by .8% from fall 2017 to spring 2018. During this same timeframe, students in the Sioux City Community School District (SCCSD) increased achievement on the assessment by 7.8%.
Iowa school districts and nonpublic schools screen K-3 students in reading three times a year as part of a 2012 law that focuses on making sure all students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Through an early warning system developed by the Iowa Department of Education, area education agencies and school districts, teachers screen children’s reading skills, adapt instruction individually for students identified as at risk, and monitor their progress. Schools also work with parents to help students at home to improve reading skills. The assessment used is called the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST).
Not only did the SCCSD results increase almost 10 times as much as the state’s results, the SCCSD also surpassed every other school in Siouxland in achievement increases.
“The Sioux City Community School District has implemented several practices to help influence the increase in the FAST assessment,” said Dr. Kim Buryanek, Associate Superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District. “Students have a 90 minute literacy block daily focused on increasing proficiency in reading. Within this block of time, teachers divide students into small groups, which creates a more individualized learning experience for each student.”
Each small group focuses on specific skills they need to develop in order to advance their reading and writing. The teacher is able to differentiate learning for each child and provide students with instruction that will allow each one to grow.
In addition to improved instruction, Dr. Buryanek credits the District’s Board of Education for supporting budget allocations that allow the District to invest in new materials to support this instruction. Journeys English language arts materials provide teachers with high quality resources to help students learn reading, decoding, fluency, comprehension, and much more. Learning these critical skills with confidence prepares the SCCSD students to be successful lifelong learners.
“Early literacy is essential because students who struggle to read early on are more likely to drop out of school, less likely to pursue postsecondary education and training, and less likely to earn a living wage,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “If our schools can maintain steady student growth in reading, we will see a dramatic shift in Iowa’s reading results over time and our students will have a better chance of success in school and in life.”