Want to help struggling students with their reading? Give them more time.
That's the straightforward but important conclusion of a thorough new study, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, of reading reforms in the San Diego Unified School District, the state's second largest district.
The report looked at reading reforms in San Diego between the fall of 1999 and the spring of 2005, and found that reading time was crucial to helping students. Middle-school students who took extended-length English classes -- that is, English classes that lasted two or three full periods -- made big gains in their reading scores. Instituting a longer school year at the elementary level also helped those students with the lowest reading scores.
Not everything San Diego did on reading worked. Adding reading during summer sessions and in special periods before or after school did not seem to make a significant impact on student achievement. And the reading program did not appear to make an impact on high school students -- so intervening earlier is important.
You can read the report yourself by clicking here.