Wareham School Committee members applaud rising elementary literacy rates

By Matthew Bernat | Jun 20, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrea Schwamb discusses rising literacy rates with the school committee on Wednesday.

Literacy rates are rapidly improving for Wareham elementary school students, but that doesn’t mean administrators' work is done, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andrea Schwamb.

“We need to find a way to maintain our rigor,” Schwamb told school committee members on Wednesday. “Overall, we have made significant progress, but we’re not going to rest.”

On Wednesday, Schwamb reviewed literacy rates for Wareham kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth grade students. The update followed a report Schwamb made last year that shocked school committee members with its positive results.

In February 2017, kindergarten students were tested for reading fluency using the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Then in April of that year, they were re-tested after receiving 20 to 25 days of reading intervention. The process was repeated and the students were tested again in June.

In February, 55 percent of students did not meet the target reading level, but by June, that number dropped to 6 percent.

The most recent test results, which measured student progress from January to June of this year, weren’t as impressive, but still encouraging, said Schwamb.

“In October, I announced that we would reach 90 percent proficiency,” said Schwamb. “We didn’t make 90 percent proficiency, but we did pretty well.”

In January, kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth grade students scored 73 percent, 73 percent, 65 percent, 65 percent and 57 percent for literacy, respectively. This month, those scores were 91 percent (kindergarten), 80 percent (first grade), 80 percent (second grade), 75 percent (third grade) and 66 percent (fourth grade).

School committee members applauded the results.

“It’s impressive, it’s exciting, it’s amazing,” said Committee member Mike Flaherty.

Schwamb noted that the younger students improve faster that older students. However, with new literacy instructional strategies in place for those grades, she expects to see those rates continue rise.

“We’ll see a shift in the overall literacy rate in the district as we continue with this work,” said Schwamb.

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