2,700 LRSD Elementary Students Not Reading At Their Grade Level

- LITTLE ROCK, AR- The number of elementary students in the Little Rock School District who are not reading at their grade level, came to light Thursday night following a presentation to change a successful reading program to better teach students how to read.

LRSD Superintendent Dr. Dexter Suggs revealed in his presentation that 2,700 Kindergarten to 3rd grade students are not reading at a proficient level. It's what made him come out with a new plan to teach students how to read, from a one on one approach, to a group setting. However, it's drawing criticism among some parents and teachers who don't want to change what they believe is working.

"It was something a lot of kids went through and we had a great reading recovery teacher, they had specialized skill sets to be able to do that one on one instruction with those kids and really change their reading," says Lori Kirchner, LRSD teacher.

With nearly one in three elementary students not at the reading level they should be, board members say there is plenty of blame to go around.

"It should've never gotten 30 percent, and like you said we don't want to point the finger, but sometimes you just got to point the finger," says one LRSD board member.

"Regardless of how big or small that number is, it's something that we constantly gotta work at from multiple angles," explains Kirchner.

Many parents and teachers say the school district is moving in the wrong direction by cutting a popular program called Reading Recovery. 17 of LRSD's elementary schools have it, and Kirchner says it's a big help.

"I think there is a component to Reading Recovery that changes it for the kids, especially for the kids that get put in the program. You really see the change," says Kirchner.

But as teachers across the district brace for change, she knows there's no magic bullet to bring that 30 percent down.

"I think it's a challenge that we face every day," says Kirchner.

There still seems to be confusion among the LRSD board about how Dr. Sugg's proposed plan would change Reading Recovery. No word on when it will be up for a vote.

To keep up with Susanne Brunner's stories, "Like" her Facebook and follow her on Twitter

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