Here’s a question: What exactly has the Bridgeport Board of Education done to ensure students are reading on grade level?
Unfortunately, the answer is not enough.
While the board focused much of their energy last year on a feud with the Mayor’s office and trying to sue the state over charter schools, reading scores dropped for nearly one entire class.
According to data discussed at last Curriculum and Instruction Committee, more than 71 percent of first grade classes saw a drop in students scoring at or above grade level on the district’s yearly literacy assessments.
That means students who entered first grade reading at grade level are heading into second grade ill prepared. In fact, while around 37 percent of kindergarteners scored below grade-level, nearly half of those same students scored below grade level on district-wide assessments the following year.
The scores aren’t evenly distributed either. As usual, students in Bridgeport’s Magnet schools fared much better. At neighborhood schools like Wilbur Cross, 75 percent of first-graders scored below grade-level.
Beyond the fact that reading scores show a downward trend, these scores raise quite a few other concerns, and here’s why – studies have shown third grade reading level is the single greatest predictor of whether a child will graduate high school.
Many studies have shown the impact of third-grade reading proficiency is even greater in poorer communities like Bridgeport. According to Education Week’s Sarah Sparks, a student who can’t read at grade level in 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school. “Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.”
So, back to my initial question. What is the BOE doing to help these students?
So far, nothing.
Despite the urgency of the situation, they ended their committee meeting without a plan, a proposal, a pilot program or even a vote.
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