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Third Grade Success Act implementation underway in Monongalia County Schools


Components of the Third Grade Success Act are being implemented in Monongalia County this year.

House Bill 3035 lays out specific changes for schools in an effort to improve reading and math skills for students in grades K through 3. Teachers are also being trained to identify and spot symptoms of dyslexia and soon dyscalculia.

The bill requires students to meet math and reading thresholds, or they could be held back.

On WAJR’s “Ask the Educators,” director of Federal Programs and Elementary Curriculum at Monongalia County Schools Norma Gaines said preparation for implementation begins at the top by training the trainers.

“Every elementary classroom teacher, every special educator and every Title I teacher is going to complete about eight hours of intensive reading and instruction training — it’s intensive training in small groups at the school level,” Gaines said.

For the first time, aides are now in first grade classrooms, according to Gaines. Aides have typically been in the lower grades, but the addition to the first grade classrooms gives local teachers more help as students learn vital reading and building blocks.

“It’s a great opportunity to really invent a job to support the learning of our children,” Gaines said. “So, in Monongalia County, we believe a lot in learning for our adults as well, so we’ve got a lot of training for those assistants.”

The bill also directs communication with parents through the process. Gaines said with that communication, there will be tools and advice provided to help parents support children at home. The tools are more than traditional homework; they include digital and virtual resources.

“We’re giving parents more information about how their child performs on our benchmark assessments and also helping parents with information about different activities they can do at home to support learning,” Gaines said.

When a child misses a benchmark or shows signs of one of the learning disabilities, they begin to work with those students in small groups with “interventionists.” Interventionists develop specific plans directed at the weaknesses that include practice exercises to work with the child while communicating with the parent or guardian.

Currently, 1,197 K through 5th grade students are receiving some form of intervention.

“Lots and lots of practice with the skills of reading; lots and lots of exposure to text and practice on text they can read,” Gaines said. “Students who are dyslexic usually need more instruction and practice than the typical child.”

Coordinator of School Psychology Angela Hayes said performance scores are monitored so adjustments can be made to offer more help or encouragement where needed. The Student Assistance Teams already in place in Monongalia County are being used to look at the data and help make decisions to help improve scores.

“Being is able to look at the data and determine if we need more intervention, a different kind of intervention, longer amounts of time in intervention, or truly if a student is becoming resistant to the intervention,” Hayes said.

The district will implement a math intervention program next school year.