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LES making effort to raise student reading test scores

The Lafayette County School Board heard about the importance of early language arts development from the mouth of babes Monday night.

Teachers and students from pre-kindergarten through second grade presented the school board with strategies for improving reading test scores and writing skills that give students competitive learning advantages.

Lafayette Elementary School Principal Paula Gibbs said the efforts to raise reading test scores and comprehension will help students in all of LES grade levels and beyond, including with writing.

“We knew that we had a deficit in our writing,” she said, so teachers have been heavily focused on improving student-writing skills since last summer and have been steadily working on implementation.

LES’ language arts curriculum and standards focus on sounding out words with phonograms, which prepare early reading achievement with vocal symbols.

Pre-kindergarten students learn alphabet letters and numbers weekly for repetition and information retention. With children learning ahead in pre-kindergarten classes, the students learn basics quicker and easier in the following grades.

Beginning in kindergarten and continuing through second grade, students learn science and biology through language arts.

Students presented what they have been learning in class about the lifecycles of butterflies and frogs, polar bears and other animals through science-based projects. The projects for each grade incorporated short writing assignments and sometimes journaling exercises to supplement language arts and vocabulary growth in all subjects.

Second grade teacher Sandy Brown said even though students are performing adequately in reading, reinforcing phonetics improves their basic skills with small words, which in turn helps them read complex words earlier.

Second-graders are also exploring creative writing techniques.

“I don’t want children to ever lose that thirst for being creative,” Brown said.

The students also have been reincorporating cursive writing skills into the curriculum to supplement statewide standards.

Gibbs said future teacher training would continue to focus on including writing assignments into math and science subjects.

“Writing will continue to be a huge focus for us,” Gibbs said.