Silver Chips Online

Reading Department to change junior reading system

Scheduling issues prompt change in reading classes for juniors' second semesters

By Anshul Sood, Online Sports Editor
April 21, 2008
Students in Blair's reading program will now be required to take a full year of reading classes in their freshman and sophomore years, in addition to one semester of a reading class in their junior year, according to Reading Department resource teacher Amy Bottomley. Juniors should have received sufficient instruction in reading by their second semester, according to Bottomley.

Under the current system, juniors in the reading program are scheduled for a full year of reading classes but may switch into a specialized class during their second semester. Freshmen and sophomores take a full year of reading classes each. The new system, which changed due to scheduling conflicts that arose, will go into effect during the 2008-2009 school year.
The Reading Department will undergo scheduling changes to make the year go more smoothly for students.
<i>Photo illustration by Alex Lutz.</i> Alex Lutz
The Reading Department will undergo scheduling changes to make the year go more smoothly for students. Photo illustration by Alex Lutz.

In the current reading program, students continue taking reading classes while reading teachers judge that their reading is below grade level. Juniors in the reading program sign up for a full year of reading classes but can be switched to a different class second semester if they have made significant progress. Students judged to be below grade reading level are placed into the reading program whenever they start school at Blair.

According to Bottomley, there are no open electives for juniors to switch into during their second semester. "The problem is that we cannot remove these students from the reading program after the first semester because there are no electives with open space in the middle of the school year," Bottomley said. "So instead this year we created a new course for these students during second semester that revolved around their skills."

This course, for current juniors only, evades the scheduling conflict. Juniors who are judged to be making significant progress after their first semester are put into this course for their second semester. Next year, this specialized course will no longer be needed as juniors will not take a reading course in their second semester.


When signing up for their junior year courses, students in the reading program will select a reading course only for the first semester. This way, juniors can schedule a course for their second semester at the regular scheduling time without worrying about how many semesters of reading classes they have to take. The new system is not expected to cause major teaching changes, according to Bottomley.

Bottomley and Assistant Principals Suzanne Harvey and Myriam Rogers ultimately chose to change the system in order to alleviate scheduling issues for students, according to Bottomley. "We did not know until the end of the first semester in students' junior year if they had made the necessary gains in reading to exit the program," Bottomley said. "That made scheduling students' second semesters really difficult." The decision to implement the new system was made earlier this school year.

The Reading Department is for students who are judged to be reading below grade level. It consists of about 150 students, six teachers and three major courses: College Prep Literacy, Basic Reading and Developmental Reading. The department used to be known as Special Alternative Reading Classes (SPARC) before it was changed to simply the reading department in the 2006-2007 school year. Students in the reading department do not take regular English courses until they have completed the reading program. Students complete the reading program after their junior year, which will be changed to after the first semester of their junior year. Students in the program will take other classes with the rest of the school.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8311