BY SARAH GREGORY
Baileyton Elementary School recently earned national recognition for outstanding performance in reading practices and proficiencies as part of the Renaissance Learning company's Accelerated Reader program.
RECOGNIZES READING PERFORMANCE
The school was awarded Accelerated Reader Model School Certification, meaning a majority of the school's students have exceeded reading practice and comprehension goals.
Several Baileyton Elementary School educators also received recognition, earning Model or Master level certification based on their class's reading performance.
The awards recognize Baileyton Elementary School's efforts in promoting reading and the resulting improvements in reading proficiency.
Accelerated Reader is used in all of the Greene County School System's elementary schools. The computer program administers quizzes about the content in fiction and non-fiction books to assess students' reading comprehension levels.
The goal is to provide teachers with immediate feedback in hopes of facilitating an increase in reading levels.
Baileyton Elementary School is the only school in Greene County to achieve the special recognition.
School librarian and media specialist Melissa Laws says the school is trying to foster a culture that promotes a love of reading.
The requirements for the certifications are stringent.
In order for a teacher's classroom to attain Model certification, students' reading comprehension levels as tested by the program must maintain a minimum average of 85 percent for 12 consecutive weeks.
Master certification is even more difficult to achieve, as students must score an average of 90 percent or higher in reading comprehension tests for a minimum of 18 consecutive weeks.
In addition to the minimum test percentages, students must also read on average 20 minutes per day or more. Students in grades three through eight must also undertake independent reading.
The Model school certification for the current school year is Baileyton's first-ever school-wide certification.
MASTER LEVEL LIBRARY
Last year, Laws received Model certification for the school's library. This year, she attained Master-level certification for building upon already-great results in students' increased reading comprehension.
Laws credits assistance from the Accelerated Reader program in an increase in not only students' reading comprehension levels but also their love of reading.
"I just love it. In this program, we've seen -- our reading scores are higher, we've seen that it works, our kids love to read," she said.
In years past, Laws says, students would express disappointment on days that they had library instead of physical education as a related arts class.
"Now, they're not doing that. They enjoy coming to the library to read," she said, noting that the library has worked to build up its selection of non-fiction books.
She noted that students seem to enjoy reading non-fiction just as much as the fiction offerings.
Laws was instrumental in the certifications, filling out paperwork and providing reports on students' results in the Accelerated Reader program.
Because of the school's already-intense focus on literacy, many of the recently recognized teachers' classrooms met the strict and lofty requirements set by Renaissance Learning without being aware of it.
MASTER AND MODEL CERTIFIED TEACHERS
Three other Baileyton teachers attained Master-level certification this year.
First-grade teacher Karen Willis and seventh-grade teachers Tim Bailey and Virginia Myers were recognized by Renaissance Learning for meeting the Master level requirements.
Eight of the school's teachers were awarded Model-level certification this year.
First-grade teacher Zan Weems, second-grade teacher Sarah Gonce, third-grade teacher Pam Tarlton, fourth -rade teachers Sherri Morgan and Callie Neas, sixth-grade teachers Amy Brown and Jennifer Key, and eighth-grade teacher Virginia Cooter all had Model level proficiencies in their classrooms.
MODEL CERTIFIED SCHOOL
In order for a school to receive Model- or Master-level certification, a set percentage of its teachers -- determined by the Renaissance Learning company -- must attain the certification.
Baileyton met requirements to be certified as a Model-level school. A majority of the school's classrooms have attained a Renaissance Learning certification.
Laws says the school will continue to strive for Master certification next year.
"Our students want to do well. They want to please their teachers. That's how we've set the standard here," Laws said, adding that "promoting reading and having a good foundation in reading sets the foundation and builds a bridge for every academic area."