Salem State-Bentley School partnership results in improved literacy outcomes

Marsh visit

For four weeks this summer, the education department at Salem State University and Bentley School elementary grade teachers partnered to provide intensive literacy instruction and interventions for at-risk elementary students. Priority was given to English Language Learners and children from low-SES backgrounds.

Salem Public Schools sponsored six Bentley teachers and two paraprofessionals and Salem State provided five teachers who had completed the university’s master’s degree programs in either reading or early childhood education. A director and assistant director, both affiliated with Salem State, analyzed the program assessments and instruction and served as liaisons between Salem Public Schools and the university relative to assessment data and instructional support.

The summer program’s goal was to help children progress as readers and writers three to six months beyond their current levels and early indications are that it succeeded. Three of the children increased a full grade level, while nearly 30 percent who were previously reading below grade level have now progressed to reading at or above grade level.

Assessment results at the close of the four-week program indicate that all the children either maintained their current reading level or progressed three to twelve months. Sixty-three percent of the participants increased their spelling ability and writing samples, which were used to assess the children’s ability to use language and apply content learning, revealed that 52% increased their content knowledge, 30% increased their English language proficiency and 45% increased their use of content vocabulary.

Most importantly perhaps, according to Cami Condie and Rich Giso, who supervised the summer program, is that more than half of the children reported more motivation to read and participate in literacy activities.

Photo: Bentley School students participating in the Salem State-Bentley School summer program dramatically improved their reading comprehension and writing abilities through art and science projects.