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Supporting Our Readers

Dear Dana and Correia Families,

Our mission in the Point Loma Cluster is to prepare our children for success the day after high school. This includes preparing students for success in college, career, and the global marketplace. Our children must be prepared for the rigorous level of discourse and discussion expected from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This preparation must begin prior to high school. This letter will explain the importance reading plays in meeting this goal, what our schools are doing to support literacy development, and what you can do as a parent to help your child develop their own reading skills.

We have found learning deepens when students engage in reading, talking, and writing about texts across many different instructional contexts. Each mode of communication provides a new way to process the ideas learned from oral and written texts, and from each other. The direct connection between student success and mastery of reading cannot be understated.

In order to prepare students for mastery of the CCSS as represented on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) yearly assessment, we have chosen to utilize the FAST assessment as a measuring stick to determine your child’s growth in reading ability. Your child’s reading performance is measured using a Lexile score - a number between 100L and 1700L. The Lexile performance ranges are used to indicate if a student is reading “at, above or below” grade level expectations. Lexile score ranges reflect the Lexile level a student should have by the end of the school year. Please see below for the new performance band ranges:

Common Core Aligned Lexile Performance Bands

The reference table above shows the Lexile ranges in relation to grade level. The Proficient and Advanced columns show the Lexile ranges required to meet college and career readiness expectations by grade 11.

Students will take the FAST two to three times per year. The results of this assessment will be used as one of many indicators to guide our instructional practice. Students and parents can use the results to monitor individual progress.

Helping students stay on track to meet our goal of success in college, career, and the global marketplace is our first priority. A strong foundation in literacy is critical to our children’s success. We believe:

  • Learning does not occur in stages, but is a continually evolving process.
  • Concepts are acquired and then elaborated over time.
  • Many complex literacy understandings take years to develop.
  • Students learn by applying what they know to the reading and writing of increasingly complex texts.
  • Learning does not automatically happen; most students need expert teaching targeted to their specific needs to develop high levels of reading and writing expertise.

We plan on using a variety of flexible grouping strategies both in and out of the Language Arts classroom to provide students with opportunities to receive direct instruction at their individual level of need. Fluid language arts classroom partnerships are designed to support students with their individual reading and writing needs.

Our hope is to collaborate with parents to ignite and sustain the pleasure and passion of young readers as well as to instill a comfortable confidence in students as they build stamina for reading in preparation for college and career. Because reading for an hour or two in one sitting is a basic expectation in college and is often required in any workforce training program, we will exercise muscles soon to be strained in the coming years.

You can help your child stay on track by finding books that match their reading Lexile level. The online "Find a Book" feature available at http://www.lexile.com is a handy tool to find books by Lexile level. It is easier to choose appropriate books at the library or bookstore when you know which books match your child’s Lexile range. When reading by him/herself, your child will benefit from reading a book that is within his/her Lexile range. The reading range is from 100L below to 50L above your child’s current Lexile level/score. 

For example, the first Harry Potter book’s Lexile level is 880L. The Harry Potter book, at 880L, would be most appropriate for children reading from 830L to 980L. However, please do not sacrifice high interest, challenging reading materials for the sake of easy readability. 

Encourage your child to choose a variety of non-fiction text also such as biographies or science articles. Read parts of narrative text together and discuss topics such as characters and motivation. Taking the time to read together allows you to ask questions and clarify confusing parts of the text. Use the following questions to guide your conversation:

  • What are you thinking?
  • What is happening?
  • Tell me more about that…
  • What do you think was an important message/idea in this story?
  • What part did you like best? Why?
  • How do you feel about the ending? Why?

Please visit the following website to explore other high-impact home strategies for parents: http://tinyurl.com/homestrategies

Please feel free to contact your child’s Language Arts teacher for more information about reading expectations, your child’s Lexile score, or how to help your child improve their reading skills.