As we start into the summer vacation for students, I would like to encourage parents to continue to work with their students to improve their academic skills. It is very common for students to exit their classes on grade level at the end of May and when school starts again in August students have regressed one half of grade level. This regression is consistent with one half of a year lost in full class instruction or in other words, a student can regress in the summer back to the same level they were before the winter break of the previous school year. Summer can be great time for students to catch up on reading and math if they have fallen behind in their regular classes. I would ask parents to read to students at least 15 minutes each day to help prevent their reading from regressing. Many communities have summer reading programs at their local libraries; please encourage students to sign up for these programs. The District has purchased Ticket to Read for elementary students, this program is also available during the summer months. If you have a student who has not entered Kindergarten, please consider using the UPSTART program found at http:/www.utahupstart.org/
Just a few suggestions to help parents read with their students, first make sure the reading materials are on the student’s level. This can be determined by listening to students read aloud, if a student struggles with more than five words on each page, the reading passage may be too difficult for the student. If you know the students reading level, you can assess other books that may be on the same reading level and that are about topics of interest to them by using “Find a Book”. Students can enter or find their level, pick categories that interest them, and then build a list of suggested titles they can find at their local library to read over the summer. This information is posted at: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/main/Core-Academy/Utah-Learns.aspx
An additional suggestion is to find reading material that is interesting to the student. Students are much more likely to read subject or stories they enjoy. If a student is in first through third grades it is very important to have students read aloud to someone. This helps students with fluency and comprehension in reading. At the end of the passage, ask the students questions about what they have just read, ask about the main characters and question about predictions in the story. Audio books are a great way for students to become interested in reading chapter books, please just be sure the student has a copy of the book so they can follow along with the narrator. Audio books can create interest by introducing the main characters, setting and story lines. The audio books should be used to spark interest with the goal being to transition the students into reading the stories independently. Make sure the reading material is on grade level, something they are interested in, and dedicate at least 15 minutes each day to reading. Students will maintain their current reading level when they walk in the doors the first day of school.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton