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Reading Academy OK'd for Waynesboro schools

September 15, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The success of a similar program in Chambersburg, Pa., has prompted the Waynesboro Area School District to begin a Reading Academy program in the middle and high schools.

"It's a tool that helps teachers identify gaps in student learning," Assistant Superintendent Gloria Pugliano said of the Reading Academy program, a software package purchased from Step-by-Step Learning of Pittsburgh. The $90,000 program, which includes training for faculty, was paid for with a state grant, she said.

"We're targeting the bottom 25 percent in achievement" in reading, Pugliano said after Tuesday night's Waynesboro School Board meeting. About 60 middle school and 75 high school students are in the program now, figures that could double by the end of the year, she said.

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"We have good statistical background from Chambersburg and other districts" concerning the effectiveness of the program in addressing reading deficiencies, Pugliano said. The average increase in reading proficiency after 25 hours of instruction in the program is 21/2 years, she said.

To gauge the effectiveness of the Reading Academy program, Pugliano said the district will use a standardized test that is not part of the program.

Working at computers, Pugliano said students are taught awareness of phonics, the sounds produced by letters or groups of letters; and phonemics, the differentiation of sounds produced by the same letters.

Pugliano said the Chambersburg Area School District also uses the program at the elementary level. The standardized reading test scores of Waynesboro's elementary students, however, already are high, she said.

The scores of elementary students on state standardized tests such as the PSSA, will be reviewed at next Tuesday's board meeting, Pugliano said. A similar review of achievement scores for middle school students will be presented in October and for high school students in November, she said.

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