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‘It makes me feel a lot more confident’: DSST teachers introduce program to help improve students’ reading skills


Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows Colorado students are continuing to get back on track post-pandemic.

Fourth and eighth graders were tested as part of its report card, and reading scores dropped for kids in both grades compared to 2019. The scores dropped about two points in fourth-graders and four points in eighth-graders. Colorado readers are still higher than the national average, ranked at 13th best. 

With so many kids falling behind, DSST Public Schools – formerly known as the Denver School of Science and Technology – has a new effort to get them back on track. Three reading interventionists are working to dismantle the myth that some students are just not readers. 

CBS News Colorado’s Mekialaya White spent time in one of the classrooms in Green Valley Ranch Middle School teaching the pilot program, led by interventionist Kelly Francisco. 

“Before we start, let’s quickly review what we’re doing right,” she announced to her students at the beginning of class.

Francisco says her course has been described as removing the hurdles in the race of learning to read.

“Depending on how their virtual pandemic experience, as they’re coming to us in sixth grade with basic literacy gaps, and it’s 100% not on them,” she said. “There’s a large body of research that shows that it can determine a lot of things: their confidence overall as students, even things such as if they’re more likely to drop out of school, or more likely to have depression, many, many things.” 

And Francisco says reading is more than just saying words on a page: It’s everything from phonics to metacognition.

“It’s very much student-to-student. [When we read,] we are asking questions. We are going back to read, we are stopping to see where we left off,” said Francisco.

Seventh grader Andrew Cruz says Francisco’s curriculum has helped him significantly, and he is proud of his progress: “I’m not how I used to be. Back then, I was always struggling and stuttering all the time, till I got in this class. I started doing good.”

Fellow students Camila and Sheryln Garcia can agree, overcoming their own hurdles.

“My reading and how I pronounce words because I struggle with that,” said Camila. 

“Not reading that fast and concentrat[ing] on reading actually, you know?” Sheryln said. 

“Does it make you feel more confident?” asked White.

“It makes me feel a lot more confident,” Camila replied.

Source: CBS News