Academically speaking, Reading is at the center of the palette of foundational skills that we focus on in our Lower School. If a person can read, there are few doors that are closed to her or him. In this technological age of information at our fingertips, if a person can read well, they can teach themselves almost anything. This is why we invest so much time and energy on our students’ reading abilities. Our elementary education starts with being able to fluently read and comprehend written text, and then learning from that text.
One of the tools we use to monitor student reading ability and progress is the STAR assessment from Renaissance Learning. This 20-minute assessment is taken on the iPad and gives instant data on a child’s:
- Grade Equivalent (GE) reading level – a norm-referenced score that represents how a student’s reading performance compares with other students nationally,
- Instructional Reading (IR) level – a criterion-referenced score that is the highest reading level at which a student is at least 80% proficient at comprehending material with assistance (such as a textbook),
- Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) -the range of readability levels from which a student should select books to read.
STAR assessments are computer adaptive and adjust to each student’s unique responses. We administer this assessment at the beginning of the year to place students into the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. Teachers usually have their students take it once or twice more during the school year to monitor their reading growth.
After an analysis of the most recent STAR assessments taken this past February and March, I can report that the average 1st through 4th grader in our Lower School is reading anywhere from 1 to 1 ½ years (grades) above their actual grade level – and that’s our average student! We have many students who are reading two, three, even four years (grades) above their actual grade level.
I believe this is a testament to our heavy emphasis on Reading, the quality of our teachers and their instruction, the support our parents provide at home, and the hard work of our dedicated young readers. Together, we can be proud of the ways in which we are collaboratively preparing our young children for the future that lies ahead of them.
Lower School Principal
P.S. We will be celebrating many of our reading accomplishments this coming Tuesday the 19th at 2:00 in Henderson Hall! We hope you can attend our Accelerated Reader (AR) Awards Ceremony to help congratulate our avid young readers!