Origins of the Academy
Despite the best efforts of their teachers, approximately 30% of Richmond students do not pass the third-grade ISTEP+ Language Arts (Reading) test – the first in the series of statewide ISTEP+ tests.
Why This is Important
Not Reading on Grade Level at this Age is a Highly-Correlated “Early Predictor” of Dropping Out of High School
- Increase reading performance by one F&P level.
- Increase performance on standardized reading tests by 50%.
- Increase ability to write cohesive, organized text by 1-2 points and use of conventions by 1-2 points using 6 Traits scoring scale.
- Increase positive attitude toward reading.
Starting the Academy
In 2007, local citizens decided it was time to try an experiment in support of the regular educational system. The result: an intensive, independent, voluntary, community-based, instructional program with a single, laser-like focus – to make sure that all third-grade students in Richmond would be reading on grade level by the time they entered the fourth grade.
The first Academy was conducted in 2008, with Dr. William Doering developing the curriculum and serving as headmaster. That year, all of the necessary funds were raised directly from individuals in the Richmond community and through the Wayne County Foundation. In 2009, there was a more formal partnership with Richmond Community Schools. By successfully responding to a call for proposals, the Academy garnered approximately two-thirds of its total cost from the school system. Dr. Lou Ann Moore, a retired elementary school principal and a specialist in literacy education, was the instructional director.
How it Works
The Third Grade Academy is a community-based “school without walls.” Students chose one or more learning sites best suited to them, based on their interests. Both years, the locations have included settings at local colleges, museums, the arboretum, and the public library. In 2009, a computer-assisted instruction module was added, giving teachers an additional means of engaging their students.
In both years, full-day classes were scheduled over a four-week period beginning in late June. Classes, limited to 10 students, were directed by highly trained teachers and an instructional assistant. The standards-based curriculum was focused on reading and writing, with an eye toward skills assessed by the ISTEP+ exam.
Although the Academy was unable to bring all students up to the goal of reading at grade level in the short 20-day period, the pre- and post-tests showed that Third Grade Academy Students had increased their average scores by a remarkable 50% in that period.
An immeasurable benefit of the summer learning experience was a change in student attitude toward reading in particular and learning in general. According to their personal comments, students grew in their love of reading and were developing a love for learning.
Third Grade Academy Community Partners
Indiana University East
Morrisson Reeves Library
Richmond Art Museum
Richmond Civic Theatre
Wayne County Historical Museum
City of Richmond
Ivy Tech Community College
Richmond River Rats
Richmond Rotary Club
Rosa’s Office Plus
Richmond Community Schools
Wayne County Foundation