District 51 plans intervention program to help bolster its math, reading scores

School District 51 is ready to implement an after-school intervention support program, furthering the district’s status as a state frontrunner for enacting similar initiatives.

Beginning as early as the second quarter of this school year, the district will provide math and reading programs that will deliver after-school assistance to those students in grades three through 10 who are struggling in those subject areas, said Cathy Haller, prevention coordinator for District 51. The new programs should complement the individual learning program response to intervention implemented by the district four years ago, Haller said.

“Right now we’re looking into the ramifications that these programs would have, not whether we’re going to do them or not,” Haller said.

The district began researching various programs several weeks ago, Haller said. The programs, which may or may not have an online component, offer different teaching strategies and smaller student-teacher ratios in the targeted subjects of math and reading.

Phyllis Buckley and Pam Dean, who researched available programs, said they sifted through hundreds of programs before narrowing down recommendations for the district. Longevity, or how much the program had been tested in other districts, was one of the criteria for picking programs, Buckley said.

Whether a balanced use of multimedia was included and the amount of teacher interaction with students in the program were additional considerations, she said.

Students who are identified as needing intervention will meet after school in smaller class settings for an hour to an hour and a half, Haller said. About 500 kids in the district would qualify for the programs, she said, and the district is debating whether to have the programs be home-schooled or on-campus.

“What we ask always is that we look at a body of evidence,” Haller said of how children will be identified for the program. “We don’t want to target kids based on one snapshot in time.”

Those students in the program will undergo regular and frequent progress assessments, Haller said, in addition to time in the traditional classroom.

The district is in its fourth year of implementing similar programs, beginning with response to intervention, which provides individual learning programs to all levels.


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