Summer reading academy aims to helps 3rd graders to advance

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OKLAHOMA CITY – For students at Willow Brook Elementary School the stakes are high to reach their reading summer goal.

The Third Grade Summer Reading Academy is giving them another chance to move on to the fourth grade.

“They are fun and they are excited to be here,” teacher Ashley Schlusler said. “I was not really expecting that since their summer got cut short.”

More than one thousand Oklahoma City Public School children were invited to the two-week program geared towards students who failed the spring third grade reading test.

“We get lots of one-on-one time so that small group setting gives us lots of time to really get down to what they’re struggling with and find ways to help them,” Schlusler said.

More than 28 percent of students in Oklahoma City Public Schools scored “unsatisfactory” out of more than 3,600 students.

That puts these students at risk of not moving on to fourth grade.

The students will re-test at the end of the academy with the hope of moving on to the next level.

The program is offered at 10 different sites around the city.

“We’re trying to make it exciting and fun,” Willow Brook Elementary School Principal Glenna Berry said. “We’ve brought a lot of color into the building. The lessons are very engaging. The students are excited about the learning that’s occurring.”

Included in the program is one-on-one instruction with a reading specialist.

“They are focused on a reading instruction that’s very skill specific,” Berry said. “They are looking at student weaknesses and improving those so that they perform better on this test.”

Schlusler typically teaches first grade, but takes responsibility for those third graders still struggling to read.

“Being at a younger grade where you teach those foundational skills really hit home because that’s not a third grade problem,” she said. “That’s a problem that starts in pre-k and kindergarten, and if I do my job in first grade that will trickle up and we won’t have such low scores next time around.”


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