Administrators and teachers in Knox County are preparing for the new year. Students head back in less than two weeks, and when they do, a new early literacy program awaits.
Norwood Elementary is one of five schools to pilot an intensive reading initiative last year.
"We are sending about 90% of our first graders into second grade reading on grade level," said Beth Lackey, Principal.
That equates to a gain of nearly 65%. The four other schools in the pilot program; Inskip, Green, Beaumont, and Christenberry Elementaries, showed gains of 71.2%, 79%, 56% and 56%, respectively. The results prompted officials to push for district wide expansion.
"I think it's going to make an impact later on in our students' careers. Less need for remediation, less need for intervention in the middle schools and high schools, because we've done it right the first time and really gotten that intensive focus on early literacy," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent.
Norwood's program paired student groups of six to eight with an adult. There may be different ratios district-wide, but the goals are consistent.
"We won't have the resources to make it as intensive as we did in the five pilot schools, but we will be able to touch all schools and will be able to provide additional support in early literacy to all schools and all of our students, particularly to students who are struggling," McIntyre said.
"It is definitely not a one size fits all," Lackey said. "It's very important when you're planning any kind of intervention or extension for children, that you find a program to meet the child's needs, you don't try to put a child into a program."