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Vancouver School Board literacy program sees improvement 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

More than half of Vancouver kindergarten students identified as ‘at risk’ in literacy three years ago are now meeting or exceeding reading expectations. (FILE PHOTO)

More than half of Vancouver kindergarten students identified as ‘at risk’ in literacy three years ago are now meeting or exceeding reading expectations. (FILE PHOTO)

A Vancouver School Board program designed to help identify and teach young students with reading problems has achieved a 58% success rate, according to a new report.

However, nearly half the kindergarten population at 39 public elementary schools in the city was designated at risk of reading problems.

The “early intervention initiative” program started in 2006 was created to identify and assist students needing help before they move to higher grades and potentially fail in literacy.

Despite the program’s achievements, more than a quarter of those identified “at risk” in kindergarten are leaving their schools before they finish Grade 3, according to the report.

VSB trustee Ken Denike said the numbers weren’t surprising as they reveal the reality of turnover rates at inner city schools — all of which are included in the program — where there have been instances of entire grades of new faces each year.

Exit interviews for parents of those children don’t exist, so it’s unclear where they go.

The high rates are balanced out by numbers from schools in other neighbourhoods, Denike said, which have a lower turnover of about 10-12%.

“We have a high proportion of students coming to school who don’t speak English at home,” he said. “You have a double risk at the inner city — kids not staying at school very long.”

Since starting, the program has grown from nine schools to 48 at present, according to district spokesman Kurt Heinrich.

Small group instruction and one-on-one teaching is emphasized, he noted, and children are assessed based on their ability to identify syllables, recognize letters, book reading and speaking skills.

This includes arranging small reading and speaking groups four times weekly, 30 minutes each time, to practice core skills.

After three to five months, Heinrich said, most students are “at or above the average level” of their classmates.

 

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