2017-03-05 / Insight

LCS ‘doing well’ to enhance student reading

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Amber Weidinger does a one-on-one reading intervention with a first-grader at Elva Lynch Elementary School. 
Photos by Phil Foley Amber Weidinger does a one-on-one reading intervention with a first-grader at Elva Lynch Elementary School. Photos by Phil Foley LAPEER — It’s been 51 years since a Washington, D.C. teacher began giving out free books to people in the community, and 42 years since Congress began providing matching funds to help support Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) national book program.

And still there’s a problem with reading. Michigan, according to recent studies, ranks 43rd among the states for reading proficiency and a RIF study suggests that 43 percent of American adults are functionally illiterate.

Still, said Kasie Allen, supervisor of school improvement and grant programs at Lapeer Community Schools (LCS), “we’re doing well.”

According to Schooldigger.com, which calculates school rankings based on M-Step English Language Arts test scores, three of four LCS elementary schools moved up in state rankings between 2015 and 2016.


Tami Curry, a learning coach at Lynch Elementary, works with a group of first-graders. Lapeer Community Schools believes intensive early intervention leads to better readers. Tami Curry, a learning coach at Lynch Elementary, works with a group of first-graders. Lapeer Community Schools believes intensive early intervention leads to better readers. LCS is in its second year of an early literacy grant that offers teachers imbedded professional development for literacy strategies.

Michigan Dept. of Education Superintendent Brian Whitson has set a goal of putting Michigan’s educational system among the nation’s top 10 within a decade. Allen said LCS is “working as a district to align with that goal.” But she added, “A lot of what he’s talking about, we’re already doing here.”

While Lapeer is “doing better,” Allen said, “there are always ways to do better.” She said the district’s reading recovery and extended day programs are examples of that.

She said one of the growing challenges with reading is a difference between reading formats. Educators are finding that students who do well with books don’t necessarily transfer the skill over to electronic formats and vice versa.

LCS has Early Literacy Coaches at each of its elementary schools.

Amber Weidinger is one of them. She splits her day at Elva Lynch Elementary School in Mayfield Township between coaching teachers and working directly with students.

As part of the school’s Reading Month activities, every family at Lynch has been provided a copy of “Lemonade Wars” and parents are being asked to read with their children 15 minutes every night.

“We’re doing a lot of great things,” she said. She noted first graders who need extra help reading get a 30-minute daily intervention.

Weidinger said LCS has a “diverse population with readers at both ends of the spectrum.”

Family background has a substantial impact on reading success. Weidinger said children whose parents read to and with them do better than those who don’t.

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