Alta-Aurelia Elementary reports test scores, focus on reading

Friday, March 13, 2020

Alta Elementary School administrators and teachers consider reading to be a priority for the pre-k through 4th graders and are working to boost reading test scores during the spring state testing cycle beginning May 4.

Principal Stacy Mueller told the school board at the March 9 meeting that after analyzing the last few years of data, reading appears to be the subject on which to focus. “We know our reading needed some work,” she said.

Reading tests are administered in the fall, winter and spring. In the fall of 2019 testing cycle, student combined test scores averaged 71% overall, and the winter of 2020 tests scores averaged 68%. The winter decrease was not unexpected because the test format becomes more difficult between the fall and winter tests. “The test gets harder in the winter, so scores go down,” Mueller said.

In the upcoming May tests, the reading goal is to have kindergarten and 1st graders 76% proficient on the FastBridge Reading Composite Test, and to have 2, 3 and 4th graders 78% proficient on the Fast Bridge AReading Composite, Mueller told board members.

Testing requirements vary based on grade level. Tasks include requirements for students to de-code words, sentences and passages, and to read aloud sight words to determine automaticity and knowledge of the sight words.

Brian Christiansen and Jeanne Strock are instructional coaches and teachers at Alta Elementary whose responsibilities include implementing and promoting strategies for improvement, and one of their focuses is on reading. “In any school, you want your reading scores to be as high as they can possibly be. Reading is a life skill you need to have to function in school,” Christiansen said.

Alta Elementary teachers are committed to strengthening reading skills and use various strategies; for example, they give students time to read for fun during class; facilitate small group instruction with groups of 3-6 students with similar skill levels; and they take students to the library once each week.

“Reading is in every portion of our day. Reading is everywhere,” Christiansen said. After school, students are encouraged to read on their own and attend the Alta Library’s many programs and activities.

Mueller is confident that reading improvements are being made at her school. “We’re moving mountains,” she said.