Kids must learn to read and it starts at an early age.
The COVID pandemic may have caused learning problems for many the past year and a half, but the Mississippi Reading Roadmap after school program in the Clarksdale Municipal School District has seen student achievement improve.
Mississippi Reading Roadmap has partnered with the CMSD the past four years, but it went to virtual methods when COVID became an issue.
Tabitha Brotherton, Mississippi Reading Roadmap director of programs, said there has been an 11 percent increase in Tier 1 for proficient readers. She also said there has been a 21 percent reduction of students who need urgent interventions, or Tier 3. Tier 2 is interventions for students who need a small level of support.
Mississippi Reading Roadmap works with kindergarteners through third graders in George H. Oliver, Kirkpatrick Health & Medical Science Magnet, Booker T. Washington and Heidelberg elementary schools.
“The data is utilized to identify which students do need the extra intervention assistance after school and we focus on those kids in programming and provide small group interventions after school in a more engaging and fun environment so it’s not just an extension of their school day,” Brotherton said. “It’s a little more entertaining for the kids and engaging for the kids.”
CMSD superintendent Dr. Earl Joe Nelson was pleased with the results.
“Our partnership with Mississippi Roadmap allowed us to continue to provide high quality education in a safe environment,” he said. “Learning continued even in the midst of a pandemic, that was very important to us.”
Nelson talked about the partnership that made the program happen in the CMSD.
“I want to just emphasize how grateful we are for the program through the Walton Foundation and Reading Roadmap,” Nelson said. “I think this partnership is something that we’ll build on over the next few years and get this data that we’re seeing to a level like no other in the Mississippi Delta and Mississippi.”
Nelson said the CMSD is looking to have similar programs as reading is the key to any subject in school.
Assistant superintendent Dr. Toya Matthews has worked with Mississippi Reading Roadmap since the partnership with the CMSD began. She talked about being able to pick up the phone and talk with people in the Mississippi Reading Roadmap program and how they were available anytime.
“The student engagement and the tutor engagement is really to be commended,” Matthews said.
“It’s not a traditional intervention. It’s not a sitting. It’s not a worksheet. I think that’s what engages the students is that they’re able to sit there and have hands-on activities. I think that has really brought about the difference in the gains that we currently have.”
Taurean Morton, Mississippi Reading Roadmap program coordinator housed within the CMSD, said this year’s theme was “The year of recovery: Bouncing back with books” because learning loss across the globe has been significant.
“We have basically seen tremendous growth with students that are Tier 2 and Tier 3,” Morton said. “What we have done over the last three years is something that’s paramount because we have faced many challenges from absenteeism to the coronavirus yet we still have been able to provide measurable growth here in the district.”
Becky Nider, the Reading Roadmap program manager over Mississippi school districts, works with Morton and has talked to principals and tutors.
“That says something huge about your school district because we go to a lot of training and they don’t mention the admin,” Nider said. “There is a pride in Clarksdale and they know the work you are doing so that says a lot about you guys.”
Nider added that happened while the program was virtual.
“The ability and willingness of Clarksdale schools to modify the administration of the after school tutoring program, and the hard work of teachers and tutors to adjust to the new virtual model, was outstanding,” said Andrew Hysell, MRR Executive Director. “It’s important to recognize the success of our public schools, administrators and teachers to help kids learn despite challenging circumstances.”
Copies of the report can be viewed at www.readingroadmap.org.