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The Newport Plain Talk
'Read to Reap' competition is encouraging students to read more
By By Kathy Hemsworth News Writer,
The “Read to Reap” program in which State Rep. Jeremy Faison partnered with the Cocke County School System is showing remarkable progress in encouraging students to read. The program is just now reaching its halfway point, so numbers are expected to continue to climb even higher.
Cocke County Schools Special Projects Supervisor Kathy Holt said that students who have not been participating still have time to get into the competition. One child from each grade cluster at each school will win a $200 gift card. The school with the highest reading rates will receive a pizza party.
The grade divisions for the Read to Reap program are as follows:
Kindergarten through second gradeThird through fifth gradeSixth through eighth grade
A national study indicates that students not reading on level by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. The Read to Reap program is to encourage reading with the goal that the more a child reads, the more he advances reading level.
According to research, a child’s ability to read at grade level by third grade is the single greatest predictor of that child’s future success. A child transitions from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” when he or she reaches third grade.
The program came to fruition after state legislation was passed that says third graders who do not pass the Tennessee Ready Reading Test cannot advance to the fourth grade unless they attend summer school and/or undergo intensive tutoring the following year.
Faison worked with Holt and the school system to create the program with the expectations that students may read more if they could have the opportunity to win money. According to the State of Tennessee Department of Education, only 34.7% of third graders in the state are reading proficiently.
For students in kindergarten through second grade the indicator will be time, which is the number of minutes spent reading. Students will keep a log that tracks the number of minutes spent reading, and minutes read on MyOn, which is a computer program, will be added to the tracker. The student with the most minutes read at each school is the winner. Parents are reminded they must fill out the logs for the time to be counted.
For third through fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade, Accelerated Reading (AR) points will be the indicator. Students will read books within their reading level and complete AR quizzes. The student with the most AR points within his or her reading level will be the school’s winner.
The competition is taking place from Jan. 17 through April 30.
Save the Children and C5 Data Manager Linda Stewart said she looks forward to checking the totals for the third through eighth grades every Monday. She logs in and gets each school’s AR points. She has created a comparison chart to compare each school’s totals from last year to this year’s totals. The totals have changed remarkably in 13 of the 18 groups.
As an example, last year Centerview’s third through fifth graders had 378.7 AR points at this time, but this year the group has 959 AR points. Centerview’s sixth through eighth graders had 97.8 points for the same time period last year compared to 1,181.4 points this year.
Cosby’s third through fifth graders jumped from 426.6 points last year to 3,103.2 points this year while Cosby’s sixth through eighth grades jumped from 32.1 points last year to 132.5 points this year. Northwest students have also shown a remarkable improvement with third through fifth graders increasing from 460 points last year to 475.9 points this year and sixth through eighth graders jumping from 130.1 points last year to 2,768.3 points this year.
“Please encourage your children to read and to participate in this competition,” Holt said.
Because several parents have said they were not aware of the Read to Reap program, Stewart has reached out to the schools and encouraged them to post the activity on school signs, send out details in newsletters and inform parents via ClassDojo.
“I really thought money would be a motivator,” said Stewart. “I am very pleased to see the accomplishment thus far. It is amazing to see these numbers and the efforts of the students and schools. I look forward to checking the totals every Monday.”
“We have seen a significant improvement in 13 out of 18 divisions. There has been a significant increase in the amount of reading done by students as shown by comparing the same time period this year to the same time period last year. We have seen 10 times as much reading or even 20 times as much reading in comparison to past years,” Holt said.
“This is absolutely speaking volumes, and we want to see the students keep up this pace. Hopefully, we will see even more participation and even higher numbers,” Holt added. “There is still time to get in the competition as we have just reached the halfway point.”
Holt pointed out that if any children need additional books to contact their school because Save the Children receives hundreds — if not thousands — of free books every year. She said students should check with their school’s reading ambassador if they need more books.