There has not been data collected yet to demonstrate student improvement in reading using the Kansas Reading Roadmap, but USD 457 officials report students appear to be gaining more confidence in their reading thanks to the program.

Melanie Marcy, Victor Ornelas reading roadmap coordinator, said during Monday’s USD 457 school board meeting that she had a fourth grade student who was telling other students they needed to join KRR because it is so much fun.

“He was pushing and he was telling his classmates, ‘You got to do this,’” Marcy said. “They really enjoy it and it’s a totally different atmosphere with the KRR program because it’s more laid-back. They can enjoy themselves.”

During Monday’s school board meeting, Lee Ann Roderick, director of elementary education, updated the board about the Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR), an after-school program that began in the summer and will continue the next two semesters.

The program is offered at Abe Hubert Elementary School, Buffalo Jones Elementary School, Florence Wilson Elementary School, Gertrude Walker Elementary School, and Victor Ornelas Elementary School.

The program provides additional reading practice for students in their specific areas of deficiency, and is aligned with the school district’s instructional curriculum so tutors know exactly how to target the additional instruction and practice time for the students’ success.

Roderick, Marcy, and Tiffany Lawson, program manager for SWKS KRR, explained how the program works.

Students get 30-minute sessions of structured reading aloud and vocabulary and individual skills reading, which is 95 percent phonics, and higher level students have a 30 minute session of independent individualized reading, Marcy said.

Each school has a program coordinator, and there also is one tutor for every eight students. About 300 students participate in the program, according to Roderick, who added that the district can handle up to 350 students.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families provides funding for the KRR program. Working in partnership with the Kansas Department of Education, KRR aligns its programs with in-school reading interventions and curriculum. The result is a more efficient and effective whole school model that has shown an increase in literacy outcomes in schools across the state, according to the Reading Roadmap website.

The KRR program is typically for students in kindergarten to third grade, but the district asked to include fourth grade.

“They said if we throw in a little transportation costs, then they would allow us to have fourth grade,” Roderick said, adding that the district pays $10,000 for student transporation to and from the program.

The district started the KRR program at the five schools during the summer for struggling students who qualified, based on scores on an AIMS test, which is a progress test according to Roderick.

The summer program consisted of three, 40-minute sessions of reading aloud and vocabulary, individual skills reading for students who needed it and individualized reading for higher level students.

KRR’s six-week summer program was developed to keep low income elementary school students (K-3) with lower scores reading throughout the summer so they return in the fall at benchmark or higher levels in reading and math, according to the Reading Roadmap website.

On Fridays, KRR coordinators planned field trips or something fun at the site school. Trips and fun days included treks to the Finney County Public Library for Beef Empire Days Story Hour, Royal Dairy, Lake Scott State Park, Boot Hill in Dodge City, and water games with local firefighters.

At Gertrude Walker Elementary School, students in the KRR summer program performed community service and installed a drip irrigation system, laid mulch and planted flowers outside of the school.

Lawson said after the first year of the program is complete, the district will submit all data collected to the University of Kansas and the university will put together an evaluation that the district will review.

Lawson said there is not much data behind it yet, but she can see students are more excited about reading.

“A student who may have not liked reading at all can eventually come into class, pick up a book, and have to be told to put it down,” Lawson said. “I do believe that the program does help their confidence in reading.”

Another aspect of the KRR program is the Literacy Integrated Family Engagement (LIFE) program, an eight-week program for three hours per week in which students and their families have a family-style meal, work on attuned listening, have a child-led play, parent discussions, and literacy nights, Marcy said. Each school offers the LIFE program on different days.

Board members took no action on the presentation, which was an informational update.