Wednesday November 16, 2022
Reading Challenges Pay Off
The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation- led ReadOKC reading/literacy initiative was called out by district leaders as one of the bright spots in recently released State testing data from Spring 2022. Early evaluation of reading score data shows a correlation between schools that have high performance in ReadOKC School Break Reading Challenges and higher scores on the reading portion of the standardized tests.
This correlation is truly something to celebrate. The ReadOKC Reading Challenges have continuously gained momentum over the past six years and have become part of the culture in many schools. The reading challenges give each student the goal to read 20 minutes per day over the school breaks, and provide incentives and recognition for individuals who meet the goal and bragging rights for the top reading elementary, middle and high school in the district, identified by a traveling banner.
Reading 20 minutes per day is a critical number, according to experts. If a child reads for 20 minutes a day, they are exposed to about 1.8 million words of text every year, which is 137 new words per minute. Research shows that reading for 20 minutes a day puts students in the 90th percentile on standardized tests, on average. Reading 14 minutes per day puts students in the 80th percentile and reading 7 minutes per day drops students to the 20th percentile.
Reading every day helps build a number of skills, including language development and vocabulary. It also fosters brain development and actually awakens a part of the brain’s left side that helps with understanding the meaning of words and concepts tied to memory. Another very important benefit is the worlds that are opened through reading and the endless possibilities provided through regular reading, as well as the strengthening of families when they focus on reading together.
ReadOKC Reading Challenges have logged more than 29 million minutes since the program launched and the 2022 Summer Reading Challenge broke a new record with more than 2 million minutes. As the reading challenges continue to grow, school leaders will continue to watch reading score data and its tie to the challenges. Having engaged school leaders, media specialists and teachers sets the tone for the reading challenges, and the community plays a part by supporting the incentives.
The State test scores are tough to review, because they prove what we’ve all known for some time. School districts, communities and families still have a lot of work to do to recapture learning loss due to the pandemic and to continue focusing in areas where students were already behind.
As the hard work continues, it’s also important to celebrate some bright spots and continue to seek innovative, evidence based solutions and equitable opportunities that create sustainable improvements for our kids. ReadOKC is one of these bright spots that happens through partnerships between our school district and community. Students with improving reading scores by encouraging reading 20 minutes a day is a goal that benefits us all.