From Boyertown Area School District

BOYERTOWN '' Recently, there was some concern that the 10 book reading requirement would be eliminated. Statewide standards have changed over the past decade when the reading requirement was introduced. Being tested are not how many books students read, but what are they learning from such reading. Parents expressed concern that their children would not be held to high standards that are needed today.

As such, the Boyertown Area School District, under the direction of Dr. Karen Beerer, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment has continued to examine this issue. Some research was conducted using a survey and interviews to find out what works with having a 10-book reading requirement, and what might get in the way of real learning. ˆ 

Responses to the survey administered to district teachers indicated that everyone agrees with the importance of students reading independently.ˆ  Several teachers shared practices that they have incorporated into their classroom instruction over the past several years to increase student reading.ˆ  Some of these practices include requiring students to keep reading logs of their independent reading, building classroom libraries to increase students' self-selection of books, using technology such as blogging to discuss books students are reading and certainly, requiring more reading as part of their instructional program.ˆ  This has been a district-wide curriculum focus.

Over the past five years, the amount of reading that has been embedded into the curriculum has increased substantially.ˆ  Dr. Beerer states, 'We have made a concerted effort to increase the reading of our students.ˆ  This means that we have incorporated numerous novels into the curriculum.ˆ  However, we have also included a great deal of nonfiction reading as well.ˆ  Our students read a wide variety of texts and genres and have become well-versed in discussing their favorite authors.ˆ  Ask second graders what they think of Cynthia Rylant or ask a seventh grader what he/she thinks about Russell Freedman as an author.'

This increase in reading extends to the content areas as well.ˆ  For example, in junior high social studies, three novels have been added to the curriculum over the last year.ˆ  Family and Consumer Science classes read portions of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. ˆ 

According to Dr. Beerer, 'Authentic learning happens when students are interested in their reading and want to share what they have read. We need to help students develop a love of learning and reading by opening up the world of books to them and engaging them in learning tasks that inspire them to read more.'

The 10-book reading requirement does not fit this goal any longer. ˆ 

Students are able to write down books that they've read in school.ˆ  There is no accountability for the 10 books.ˆ  While some have suggested that students should be required to write a paragraph about the book, this, too, negates the goal of inspiring students to read more.ˆ  Therefore, the administration is recommending the removal of the 10-book reading requirements from their graduation and grade level promotion requirements.

However, reading is alive and well in the Boyertown Area School District.ˆ  While novels and other types of reading are continuously embedded in the curriculum, there has also been an increase in 'at home' reading.ˆ  Several grade levels have instituted a summer reading initiative aligned to the curriculum and this practice continues to grow and expand.ˆ  Elementary reading specialists continue to offer their Parents As Reading Partners calendars and look for ways to strengthen this program. Students who receive Title I reading services at the elementary level have received a package of summer reading books to add to their home library.

Prospective grade 7 students who participate in the summer PAWS transition program visit Barnes and Noble to select a book to read at home. The list continues...and as always, we encourage parents and guardians to read to, with and alongside of their children, no matter how old they are.

The school board voted on changes to the reading requirement on Jan. 11, 2011.

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