The need to read
Most Putnam County students won’t step foot in a school until August, but 166 third-graders are hard at work this month, participating in Summer Reading Camp.
The intensive reading camp targets third-graders who are at risk of being retained as a result of their Florida Standards Assessment scores.
“These are students who were lacking (reading skills) this year and need a little extra practice,” Mellon Elementary camp coordinator Kim Parcher said.
All third-graders who earned a Level 1 — inadequate — score on the 2016 English language arts assessment were invited to the 16-day camp, said Laura France, Putnam County School District’s director of elementary education.
According to state Department of Education information, 942 Putnam third-graders took the English language arts assessment this year. Thirty-three percent of students performed at Level 1.
The camp is hosted at Mellon Elementary, Middleton-Burney Elementary and Interlachen Elementary schools.
Parcher said teachers at the camp focus on phonics and phonemic awareness, and have flexibility in their lessons to better focus on students’ specific needs.
One of the camp teachers practiced tossing a ball with students Wednesday, Parcher said, to improve hand-eye coordination. Parcher said hand-eye coordination and reading are linked.
Parcher said students love reading Sunshine State Reader books — books named by the state motivational reading program — with their teachers.
“The teachers here, we love teaching (Summer Reading Camp),” Parcher said.
At the end of the camp, students have to pass the Stanford Achievement Test 10 in order to move on to fourth grade, unless the child meets exception criteria. Teachers are hopeful the 16-day camp adequately prepares students for the test, which is why they are creative in their attempts to meet specific needs.
“There’s a lot of intensive reading,” Parcher said. “They don’t take a lot of breaks.”
Regardless of the final test outcomes, Parcher said, moving on to fourth grade or a second shot at third grade will be easier for students who participate in the camp.
“They’ll be better equipped because they’ve had a lot of practice this summer,” she said.
The camp will continue through June 30.