LONG BEACH - Score one for Long Beach School!

In the Spring of 2001, Long Beach School was one of 35 schools in the state of Washington to receive a Washington Reads Grant. The grant funded new curriculum, intervention programs, and a reading coach.

Recently, the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NREL) calculated the scores of students who were enrolled. They were tested in both the fall and spring of the 2001-2002 school year.

Results saw Long Beach coming out ahead of all other grant recipient schools in the state for kindergarten through third grade.

Among all kindergarten students in the program, the average percentage scoring "All Correct" on the letter/sound screening last May was 48.5 percent. Long Beach students scored 94.4 percent.

"I am just so excited about kindergarten," says Suzi Lewis, reading coordinator at Long Beach school. "We have an absolutely amazing kindergarten teacher, Kay Chabot. She stayed after school two days a week last year [to help with reading programs] and you can see the results in the data. It helps the whole school be successful."

Among first grade students tested last spring with a goal of reading 60 words-per-minute, the average percentage was 35.3 percent, with Long Beach students scoring at a 50 percent clip. This pleased Lewis, but she feels they could still be better. "I actually think we will have better scores than that this year."

The second grade students at Long Beach posted the most sizable difference over the average. Nearly 81 percent of Long Beach second-graders achieved the target of 94 words-per-minute, compared to an overall average score of 44.2 percent among other participating schools.

The third grade students at Long Beach also finished well with a score of 65.7 percent over an average of 34.1 percent of students reading at a grade level target of 114 words-per-minute.

"Everybody has worked so hard," comments Lewis on the success of the students. "Both our second and third grade students just did exceptionally well!"

The success for the school in its reading test scores can be traced back to 1999 when then-principal Gary Flood implemented the Accelerated Reader, a program which put a focus on reading and included a reward system for reading appropriate-level books and passing comprehension tests.

After receiving the Washington Reads grant in the spring of 2001, Flood and Jeff Lewis, special education/Title I teacher, developed a two hour-a-day basic skills class for those students needing specific interventions in order to improve their reading skills.

Other programs, staffing, strategies, training and practices were also implemented after receiving the grant, including creating a Reading Leadership Team and reading coach position.

The grant also allowed Long Beach to pay for a fourth day of preschool through the ECEAP program, two afternoons a week of extended reading interventions after school, and a broad summer home reading program, and a two-week intensive summer reading camp.

The grant will be continued this year, with a goal of at least 80 percent of all students at Long Beach Elementary meeting the grade-level targets for reading this spring.

Lewis knows that none of this could have happened without the support of various staff and volunteers.

"We not only have a great certified staff," says Lewis, "but we also have an unconditionally supportive classified staff. They are always there for whatever help is needed."

And though the scores are a real eye-opener, Lewis sees even better things on the horizon.

"Do we want them to raise it to the next level? Definitely," says Lewis confidently. "We just finished the final round of fall testing this year, and our average fluency scores for second and third [grade students] are higher then what they were last fall. So we think that's a good sign. We're very excited."

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