Hotchkiss kids are getting a new tool to help them learn to read. Hotchkiss' K-8 school recently implemented a new program geared for 3rd through 8th grades called Achieve 3000. This is a supplemental reading program designed to keep readers growing at their own pace, yet still challenging students to achieve higher levels of proficiency. Achieve 3000 is level specific, meaning that any given reading assignment is geared specifically to the ability of the reader. So, as the readers vocabulary expands and their knowledge of syntax grows, they can continually be challenged by what they read and not fall into a rut of only reading material that is below their level. The curriculum description from the Achieve 3000 website, www.achieve3000.com, sounds very impressive indeed, "Accelerate Literacy. Achieve Lifelong Success.
Achieve3000® provides the only patented, cloud-based solutions that deliver daily differentiated instruction for nonfiction reading and writing that are precisely tailored to each student's Lexile® reading level." The website is a good resource of information for anyone that wants to drill down into the exact process further.
Let's do a small mind exercise. Imagine a standard school room. Out of the twenty some children that are there learning, some will be reading at the pace that is expected of their grade level, some will be below the mark for one reason or another and some will be above the expected level. Then there will be outliers, a few kids that are so far above or below the level of their peers that they stand out and require special attention. For the majority of students the skill level that they need to apply to their schoolwork will be just about right. Not too hard, not too easy. Challenging enough to grow, not so far advanced that the material is beyond comprehension. Hotchkiss K-8 staff have chosen the Achieve 3000 program so that each student is capable of learning to the maximum of their potential. Achieve 3000 has the ability to cope with all of the needs of these different individuals. Accelerating the advanced, yet nurturing those in need of a helping hand.
Consider those outlier students again. Those students that slot in at the very ends of the bell curve. Perhaps, a student that sits at the toe end of that curve, a student that may continually struggle with those assignments that most of their peers find basic. A student who, through no fault of their own, finds school difficult, belittling and foreign. Or, at the other end of this spectrum, a student that is so far advanced in a subject or three that they belong in an advanced studies group or class. Both are good kids who are enthusiastic about school, but both could be restrained from their potential in different ways. One thing is certain in such exceptional cases, these children (like all children) are of the utmost worthiness to learn. The 'head of the class' may be prevented from reaching their full potential by the barrier that arises when their school work fails to challenge them adequately. Many reasons for stagnation could come into play here. Perhaps the majority of the material given to them is far below their level, or they become bored and slip into a daydream.
On the other side of the coin, the student that may need more help or direct attention from the instructor during reading time might feel frustrated or ashamed at their deficiencies, potentially causing them to develop a mental block or other defense mechanism. If this negative behavior is too often reinforced, it could seriously affect the student's long-term ability to effectively learn to read, along with all of the associated challenges that could present themselves later on in their schooling and life.
There are so many barriers to learning in the life of a child. Finding and choosing a book that is helping them grow while stimulating their imaginations doesn't have to be one of them. Perhaps our focus on school choice as the solution will be re-thought slightly in the future. A possible future that will take a page from the Achieve 3000 program. A time when, perhaps, we will focus on maximizing the ability of each and every student that wants to learn no matter which building the classroom is in.