RC preschoolers excelling in the classroom

By Jon Tatting

Rush City Early Childhood is finding success in a statewide initiative aimed at helping every Minnesota child become a proficient reader by the end of third grade.

That initiative is the Minnesota Reading Corps, which through its support and training of Reading Corps members, is making a big difference in preparing children for their schooling careers at Jacobson Elementary School.

Thanks in large part to Minnesota Reading Corp involvement, preschoolers in the Rush City Early Childhood program are excelling in the classroom. Here, from left, Javier, Spencer, Braden, Justin, Asher, Logan and Maddox gather for a photo opportunity last fall. Photo supplied

Julie Thom, program coordinator and teacher of Rush City Early Childhood, said she and staff “were thrilled and very pleased” with their preschoolers’ scores this spring in what’s called the Individual Growth and Development Indicator (IGDI) assessment.

The test measures all students on early literacy progress and growth, as staff guides students toward certain target scores by the spring season prior to their entrance into kindergarten.

The preschoolers far exceeded or improved on target scores in picture naming, letter naming, rhyming, alliteration and letter sound. Data on whether students are “on target,” “close to” or “far from” target is recorded at different benchmark periods, and goals are set throughout the school year.

“Research points to the fact that when students are meeting these targets, they will be successful readers or have the foundation they need to become successful readers once they enter the K-12 system,” said Thom, noting the latest scores have never been higher.

She attributes the students’ success to a “good staff” of teachers, paraprofessionals and the Reading Corps initiative, which provides research-based intervention training for both community and professional members who are embedded in the classroom.

Being a Reading Corps site, Rush City Early Childhood has a Reading Corps member assisting with such tasks as interventions for students who are neither succeeding nor meeting targets in areas including typical classroom instruction.

Sarah Nichols, of Rush City, a former parent volunteer, is the Community Corps literacy tutor who is trained in part to focus on kids that need help through small group work.

“Sarah supports everything we do,” said Thom, who has experience as an internal coach for Reading Corps members. “She is an established Reading Corps member in our classroom and follows the MRC model. It (the Reading Corps initiative) has made a big difference at Jacobson Elementary School.”

Nichols is expected to continue next school year, since members can serve every four years. Another with literacy tutoring experience, but as a Professional Corps member, has been early childhood special education teacher Dawn Johnson.

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