School Board Implements New Reading Initiative


Left to right: Sandy Conatser, Director of SPED Services; Tina Smith, Language Arts/RtI Coordinator; Consultant Linda Vincent, Director of Schools Mike Jones, Kristi Hall, Director of Title I; and Randall Clark, Supervisor of Instruction.

With many students across Tennessee, including Fentress County, scoring low in reading proficiency at the third grade level, the Fentress County Board of Education along with many others across the state, have implemented a new initiative to ensure that students can read by this level.
During a meeting of the School Board on Thursday, September 19, a special Power Point presentation was made by Linda Vinson, Educational Consultant, who also is serving as Project Manager for the Fentress County Reading Initiative.
Following the meeting, Ms. Vinson, along with Kristi Hall, Director of the Title I Program, spoke with the local news media about the new program:
“Fentress County Schools are really focusing on reading.” Mrs. Hall said.  “The last couple of years we’ve not been pleased with our data.  We have 31% of our students in the 3rd grade that are proficient or advanced, so as a school board and as a school leadership team and some of our teachers have started a book study to emphasize getting our students proficient in reading by grade 3, and have brought in some consultants to help.”
Ms. Vinson then gave an overview of the initiative, stating: “We’re looking at fundamentally changing the way we do instruction, based on research.  I’ve been working doing this the last 20 years, but for the past 4 years working in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.  We’re increasing instruction time for students in reading with instructional groups with teacher-to-student eyeball-to-eyeball instruction.  We’re working at their instructional level, and we’re making sure we have all hands on deck.  It’s not the way we taught before when it was taught in a small group with 30 minutes here — 30 minutes with another group.  Now, all students are with an adult — having instructions in reading for 2-1/2 hours a day.  Those students who need more help are having additional time in the afternoon for one hour.
“We’re focusing on making sure that by the time our kids exit the 3rd grade and take the TCAP in Fentress County, that 90% are at or above the proficiendy levels,” she continued.

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