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District Statistics

  • School District: Chelsea School District
  • Schools: William A. Berkowitz Elementary, Edgar F. Hooks Elementary, George F. Kelly Elementary, Frank M. Sokolowski Elementary
  • Number of Students: 1694
  • Grades: 1st-4th
  • Population: Students predominately Hispanic; Students eligible for free or reduced price lunch over 85%
  • School Structure: Urban

Struggling Third And Fourth Graders Improve Their Fluency At Rates More Than Double The National Average

Four of the five elementary schools in Chelsea, MA, increased reading fluency by 112% above national norms in third grade, and by 108% above national norms in fourth grade. The schools incorporated Reading Assistant™ software into their curricula as part of an initiative to bring struggling students up to grade reading level. The results of testing done near the end of the school year demonstrated above average improvement for all third and fourth graders using the technology, reversing years of district results below the national average.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of standardized measures used by schools across the country to gauge early literacy skills development. Measurements of Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) are made by counting the number of words read correctly per minute. DIBELS predicts an increase in ORF from Fall to Spring of 33 Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM) for the average performing third grader, and of 25 WCPM for fourth graders. Likewise, DIBELS predicts ORF from Winter to Spring to increase by 15 WCPM for third graders, and by 13 WCPM for fourth graders.

Actual 2006-7 Gains National Average Gains
School 3rd Grade 4th Grade 3rd Grade 4th Grade
William A. Berkowitz Elementary 35 39 15 25
Edgar F. Hooks Elementary 43 35 15 13
George F. Kelly Elementary 34 27 15 13
Frank M. Sokolowski Elementary 33 50 33 25

A Solution That Works

The Chelsea district purchased the technology with Reading First funds in the summer of 2006.

“These results are unprecedented,” remarks Denise Maresco, Chelsea District Literacy Program Director. “We have been searching for a solution that would work for every student and [Reading Assistant] has met our needs and exceeded our expectations.”

The majority of the student body in Chelsea is below the poverty line, which often translates to low achievement levels in school. Students in each school who demonstrated at-risk reading performance were selected to use the program.

Jenna Rooney Keaney, Reading Coach at the William A. Berkowitz Elementary School, where third and fourth graders have been using the program for 30 minute sessions four times a week, reflects, “Many of these students have been receiving supplemental intervention in school, after school and before school since first grade and they have never made progress comparable to what we have seen with the use of [Reading Assistant].”

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