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November 19, 2013

Sooner Reads program offers struggling readers, writers a chance to improve

The Sooner Reads program — a collaborative effort between the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Norman Public Schools and United Way of Norman — places OU teacher education students together with struggling readers and writers in elementary schools within the NPS district.

The United Way of Norman has provided funding to purchase educational materials to assist with the tutoring.

The goal of the program is to ensure that struggling readers and writers gain the skills necessary to pass the third-grade reading test that is given at the end of the school year. According to Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act, students who do not pass the test are not able to move on to fourth grade.

Currently, 49 teacher education students are tutoring NPS students twice a week for 45 minutes per session at Madison and Reagan elementary schools.

“Our program supplements the classroom instruction the children are already receiving. We are working to support the classroom teachers to help the children reach their literacy goals,” project coordinator Jiening Ruan said.

The elementary students are not the only ones benefiting from the program. The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education created a new course that targets literacy assessment and instruction for primary grades. The OU students attend class and learn how to teach reading and writing in grades kindergarten through third grade and then apply what they have learned.

“The class and tutoring experience support each other, and our students are able to see the real-life application of what they are learning in class,” Ruan said. “So far, the program is working well, and principals and literacy intervention specialists at both schools are very happy with the progress the elementary students are making. Norman Public Schools say they are pleased and have asked to continue the program through the rest of the school year.”

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