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September 07, 2005 Extra Credit
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September 7, 2005

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September 2
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Reading First a Success

The following article appeared in the Coalfield [VA] Progress (9-7):

"Students and teachers at Norton Elementary School are almost fully adjusted to Reading First, a grant-funded reading initiative that’s part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

"According to Susan Forkner, reading coach at the school, Norton Elementary has become a local model for what the Reading First program can accomplish.

"‘We are a school that other counties are coming to visit,’ Forkner said. ‘I’m really proud of these teachers. They've really incorporated the program and gone with it. At first, it made their work a little bit harder. Now they see they're working smarter, not harder.’

"The school’s success means more grant money. Funding is authorized under Title I part B of the No Child Left Behind Act, and is awarded on a year-to-year basis. Norton was one of the first Virginia schools awarded a six-year entitlement grant, and received $186,000 for the 2005-06 school year…. To receive grant funding, a school must continue making positive progress.

"‘Your test scores need to be moving upward each year, which indicates that you’re making progress,’ Forkner explained. ‘The whole idea is "no child left behind," or every child passing the tests,’ she added.

"While a large portion of the grant money goes to materials such as books, computer programs and educational games, much of the funding is funneled into teacher training, including a free master's degree program.

"Twelve teachers from Norton Elementary are participating in a reading specialist master’s program through Emory and Henry College. Books and classes are fully funded through the grants, and any Reading First teacher who wants to sign up can. The teachers have just completed their first year of classes, and will complete the program in May 2006….

"One special benefit of the new program in Forkner’s eyes is the teamwork between teachers in a grade level. Since all teachers in a grade level coordinate their efforts, rotating students of different learning levels between their classrooms, teachers are working together in teams.

"Forkner stressed how proud she is of Norton Elementary School’s teachers, who have taken a difficult transition and turned it into a success.

"‘This money is being put to use in the right direction,’ Forkner said. ‘It’s wonderful to go in these rooms and see all these kids so independently reading and working.’"

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Last Modified: 08/14/2013