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Kansas Reading Roadmap Boosts Learning, Study Says

A program aimed at improving 3rd grade reading scores in rural schools has shown promising results in one Kansas district, with more students on track to meet 4th grade reading goals and fewer students requiring intensive reading interventions, according to a study by the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research.  

The Kansas Reading Roadmap initiative, which rolled out in early 2014, includes a summer and afterschool reading intervention program, family engagement initiatives, and training to help educators analyze student data and learn about research-based reading programs. 

In the Pittsburg school district, which serves about 1,400 students in southeast Kansas, 138 students have participated in afterschool reading interventions, and 172 students have been served by the summer reading program. The University of Kansas study found that since the program was introduced, the percentage of students requiring intensive reading intervention has dropped sharply. In Jan. 2014, more than 33 percent of "students in need," or students identified as having deficiencies in fundamental reading skills, required intensive intervention, compared to 22 percent in fall 2014. The district has also seen steeper gains in reading skills for drop in special education enrollment

The initiative, which launched in 45 schools last year, targets rural and semi-rural schools in Kansas. Half of all public schools in Kansas are rural, and more than 28 percent of students in the state attend those schools. Nearly 40 percent of rural students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the Rural School and Community Trust.

Other rural reading intervention programs have also found some success in improving reading skills. The Targeted Reading Intervention program, which is run by the National Research Center for Rural Education Support at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides online one-on-one classroom support to teachers in several states. A 2013 study found that the program helped "struggling reader progress more rapidly across a wide range of reading skills."

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