Westchester Elementary School
- Coral Springs, FL
- Broward County
- Grades K-5
Nearly 1,200 students
- Reading Plus:
- Students in grades
2-5 participate in
Increasing Student Achievement in Reading: Elementary Grades
Westchester Elementary School is dedicated to providing excellence in education through innovation, to instilling a lifelong love of learning in students and teachers, and to celebrating diversity within a caring environment. Westchester will nurture competent and thoughtful citizens who are positively engaged in the making of the future. Westchester Elementary has a team of very dedicated teachers who continue to broaden their craft by participating in professional developments locally and globally. Additionally, the Westchester Parent Teachers Association is very active and provides the school with significant support and resources.
Results as of 5/1/16. Based on 243 Students who met the following criteria:
- Completed InSight B1 between 8/1/16 and 10/15/16
- Completed InSight B2/B3 on or after 3/1/17
- Completed at least 100 SeeReader lessons between the two InSight administrations
Kassie Hameister | Curriculum Support
Craig Saban | Assistant Principal
Melissa Geraine | Principal
Avis Goodman | Assistant
Alison Fox | Literacy Coach
Developing a Partnership
Q: How did your partnership with Reading Plus get started?
A: For years, our school was using a different reading program and we weren’t satisfied with the results. Programs like these represent a significant cost for our school and we just weren’t getting the desired results. My son was continuously telling me about Reading Plus, the reading program he was using in his school, and his teacher shared with me how well he was progressing. I began researching the company and contacted his school principal to find out more. The principal had positive things to say about their success with the program. I brought my findings to our principal, Mrs. Geraine, and we discussed how this program could positively affect our students. I then contacted the Reading Plus team to request a demonstration in the summer for a few teachers and myself. We were impressed with the program and knew it would aid in increasing our student achievement. I requested a trial period and Reading Plus granted us a complimentary pilot program for one year. After a successful pilot, we expanded the program and continue to use it today. We now have over 700 students using Reading Plus, from grades 2 through 5.
Building a Culture of Reading Plus
Q: When a new technology is introduced in a classroom, the teacher has an essential role in ensuring its success. How have your teachers responded to Reading Plus?
A: One of the key reasons why our teachers have embraced the program is that we’ve worked to build a culture of Reading Plus in our school. The initial training presented by Janine from the Reading Plus team was outstanding. It was an important first step to build enthusiasm. We know that when our teachers are excited about a program, their students will become equally excited about that program. As a result, our teachers and students love it. The reports are beneficial because they’re easy to read and provide real time data. Teachers can immediately take the appropriate actions that are beneficial for each student. The teachers find the reports as a valuable instrument to use as data for conferences with parents. Additionally, they appreciate the fact that Reading Plus texts are Lexile-based, and that the individual lessons can be used to help with RTI (Response to Interventions) process.
"One of the key reasons why our teachers have embraced the program is that we've worked to build a culture of Reading Plus in our school."
Q: Motivation is critical for developing readers. How have you used Reading Plus to increase student motivation?
A: The leadership team and support staff get into the classrooms and recognize the students and our teachers. We celebrate success in many ways. For example, some teachers have a quarterly Reading Plus breakfast for all students who attain their goals, other teachers give up their desks for the day for students who raise their levels, and one of our 4th grade teachers, Ms. Campbell, announces her students’ successes with quite a show - she stands on a chair in front of the room and proclaims to the class, “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! I hereby recognize…” The students love it.
Each year before standardized testing occurs, we initiate a Reading Plus “Combo-Contest” for all of the users. The goal is to have each class compete for the most combinations against the other classes in their grade level. The results are posted weekly in the cafeteria for all to see. The winning class receives a pizza party at the end of the eight weeks. We use many means to celebrate success, bulletin boards in the classroom, Ms. Hersh used Reading Plus gains to raise money for charity, and we even have a King and Queen of Combos, complete with a red carpet walk. As a result, many of our students have really embraced Reading Plus. In fact, we’ve even had several 4th and 5th graders who have completed the entire program.
Aligning with State Standards
Q: How well does Reading Plus align with Florida state standards?
A: We’re accountable to meet state standards, and in Broward County, we use the Broward Standard Assessment (BSA) as an instrument to predict student success on the state assessments. We’ve found that Reading Plus data correlates very closely with the results from the BSA. That close correlation provides us with a number of benefits, including useful and relevant information to share with administration during data chats and of course parents and students.
Benefiting a Range of Student Abilities
Q: What type of student benefits from using Reading Plus?
A: We’ve seen positive results, not just with those who struggle with reading but also with fluent readers. One of the biggest surprises for us was how Reading Plus also worked for students in high-achieving classrooms. Most academically strong students feel that if they are already reading above grade level, they don’t need to challenge themselves often. Despite the students reading above grade level, they saw themselves soar to new heights. The more they grew, the more they wanted to grow. As a result of our success across grades 3-5, we’ve now made Reading Plus available to our second grade students as well.
Increasing Reading Rate
Q: Which features of Reading Plus are most important for your students?
A: One of the features that attracted us to Reading Plus was the Guided Window. We had never used a program that focused on how well a student’s eyes tracked the text across the page. With Reading Plus, we’ve found the Guided WIndow to be beneficial for our students to build stronger tracking skills which increase fluency. Some students need initial time to adjust, but once they do, reading becomes more productive, and it helps keep them on task. It’s also a great way to celebrate increases in student reading rate (words per minute).
"The content is real-world information that deals with relevant topics for the students."
Developing Student Interest
Q: What other features of the program are important for your students?
A: One of our favorite things about Reading Plus is the various texts it offers. The content is real-world information that deals with relevant topics for the students. I have heard students mention the topics in conversations and refer back to a passage in other areas of their academics. They’re talking about it, they’re interested, and they’ll even take the initiative to go research the topics further on their own.
Q: How have you measured your results with Reading Plus?
A: We’ve had strong results, including 1.6 grade level gains, on average. In fact, 61% of our students in grades 3, 4, and 5 have made gains. We’ve seen an average reading rate increase of 26 words per minute, an average of 1.7 comprehension-level gains, and a 1.1 average grade-level gain in vocabulary.