March 23, 2004, Extra Credit
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March 23, 2004
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 March 22
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Focus on Reading Helps Hawaiian School Improve

The following are excerpts from an article in yesterday's Honolulu Advertiser:

"Some of Mountain View's students live in tents and trailers in the isolated rural subdivisions of Upper Puna, and more than 87 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, a common measure of poverty. Teachers limit the amount of homework they assign out of consideration for families without electricity for lighting...But most importantly, Mountain View offers tutoring and an intense focus on reading, and it is paying off. For all of the challenges facing its students, Mountain View Elementary School achieved coveted 'adequate yearly progress' status last year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act."

"Barbara Beck's three adopted sons attend kindergarten and the second and fourth grade at Mountain View, and she is impressed...The strength of the school was particularly clear in the case of her middle son, who was identified by Mainland experts as a special-needs child. 'When we adopted him, they said he was mildly retarded and never to expect too much out of him. Excuse me, he's a straight-A student and there's nothing wrong with him,' she said. 'By the time he got out of kindergarten here, he was reading and writing.'

"In fact, Myrna Watanabe, the schoolwide reading resource coordinator, said all of Mountain View's kindergarten students were reading by the end of last year, which astonished many parents. One key to the advances the school made was employing a program called Reading Mastery that is designed to accelerate the learning of at-risk students. Teachers provide intensive phonics instruction using scripted materials delivered at a quick pace. It was expensive, but the school invested $45,000 in federal grant money to launch the program two years ago, and the difference, especially in kindergarten and first grade, is 'just unbelievable, it's phenomenal,' Watanabe said."

The complete text of this article is available online.


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Last Modified: 01/29/2008