Improving Literacy and Student Achievement of Economically Disadvantaged Students in the Junior High Setting
Happy Valley Elementary School in Anderson, California, has made significant improvements in overall academic performance as evidenced by an increased API score in the 2011 academic school year. Much of this increase can be attributed to two factors: the improvements in our students' mathematics scores and the implementation of a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports System. The increase in our students’ math scores can be directly correlated to the high quality teaching and curriculum our math department has implemented as a result of intensive professional development in this subject area. One critical area of weakness that remains within our school is the implementation of a solid language arts program that includes strategic and systematic reading intervention instruction for our struggling readers. Because of the historical lack of professional development opportunities for our teachers in this area, there is inconsistency in the implementation of research-based reading interventions for our student population scoring below the language arts' proficiency benchmark. As a result, over 50 percent of our students, based on previous data, lack the literacy and language skills needed to meet or surpass the State's proficiency benchmark on standardized testing. Our team of teachers is seeking professional development opportunities, within the area of reading interventions for the junior high level, in order to increase our students’ literacy skills and achievement in language arts.