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Ledyard - Reading scores are "off the charts" following the first year of full-day kindergarten, according to Superintendent Cathy Patterson.
Recent test results show that 76 percent of the district's kindergartners performed at or above goal on 2014's reading assessment, according to data from Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Byars.
Nearly half - 49.4 percent - of the students were above goal during the spring administration of the Developmental Reading Assessment, an increase over the 30.8 percent that were above goal in 2012-13.
According to those numbers, a quarter of the kindergartners were reading at the level of a winter first-grader by the time they took the test, Byars said.
She said principals have attributed the improved DRA scores to the increased instruction time of full-day kindergarten, which means that "students simply had more time with text - whether it was reading to self, reading to friends, reading for pleasure, reading for information, (or) simply looking at books."
In addition, only 7.74 percent of the district's kindergartners were below proficiency level in reading in 2013-14. Two years ago, that number was at 11.8 percent.
Byers said the full-day kindergarten also allowed time for more instruction that connected reading and writing, improving the students' writing ability.
"While we do not have formal data around the writing, we could see from student work that students were writing longer pieces with more complex sentences," Byars wrote in an email. "Their vocabulary was more expansive and their application of writing conventions and appropriate grade-level spelling was more accurate."
During a Board of Education meeting in June, the three elementary school principals reported that kindergarten students were reading for an hour a day in the 2013-14 school year, rather than the 20 minutes available for reading during part-time kindergarten. Principals also said the students were writing more than usual.
The school district encouraged parents to keep kids' reading skills strong over the summer with summer reading suggestions. A list of titles appropriate for soon-to-be kindergartners and first-graders is available on the Ledyard Public Schools website.
The book suggestions include poetry, folktales, biography, fiction and nonfiction, as well as periodicals such as National Geographic Kids. The recommended books are available at Ledyard public libraries, and many can be read electronically.
The district also asked that students participate in the CT Reads 2014: Governor's Summer Reading Challenge. They suggested that students keep a reading journal and record the name of each book and number of pages read, as well as choosing a favorite title and explaining why it was the chosen.
The students will share the journals with their classes at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.