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October 31, 2022


Published by News on 6 on October 25, 2022

By: Ashlyn Brothers 


New statistics show Oklahoma‘s students suffered setbacks in testing because of school closures during the pandemic.

The Nation’s Report Card said in 2022, 4th and 8th grade reading scores dropped in most states, with Oklahoma scoring below the national average.

Reading Partners Tulsa said students need routine reading practice, and to be surrounded by people who can help them develop a rich vocabulary, things the pandemic took away.

Educators said now is the time to course correct and get students back on pace.

“That creates a frustration in the classroom as they’re presented with grade level material that they’re not prepared for and so we’re having to really dial it back and meet them where they are and be able to push them but also meet their gaps and try to address those gaps as needed,” said Courtney Rodebush, Program Director.

Reading Partners pairs volunteers with students who are 6 months to 2.5 years behind in their reading proficiency levels.

“While our results were not necessarily as high as they’ve been in the past at the end of the year last year, we still saw 89 percent of our students show measurable growth. So, they may have come to us a little bit lower, but they still showed growth,” said Rodebush.

“I think it’s super exciting to see that light go off in the kids and the program making a difference,” said Omare Jimmerson, Volunteer & Board President.

Omare Jimmerson said the pandemic exacerbated the problem.

“Teachers are struggling themselves to be able to give that one-on-one attention cause there’s just too many kids in a classroom, and so I think as a state we need to do a better job of addressing education because it’s what tomorrow will look like for the state,” said Jimmerson.

Program Director Courtney Rodebush said students have to relearn classroom behavior.

“Not having the routine time built in a classroom where there’s reading time to build their stamina and also to build their fluency,” said Rodebush.

She said their basic literacy skills could have suffered greatly. Rodebush said this is having a ripple effect.

“There’s basically 5 components. Your vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness and phonics. Phonemic awareness is having our students understand that letters and sounds are associated together and just making the association of words and sounds. Phonics, starting to associate that the letters blended together make words and understanding that those have a correlation. Vocabulary, obviously exposure to a grand amount of vocabulary and the more vocabulary they’re exposed to obviously the better they’re going to be able to decode and understand the story. Comprehension, we’re seeing that with a lot of our older students, they might be able to decode the words and to read fluently but their comprehension skills are lacking because they just haven’t had that enrichment in the classroom. And then obviously fluency, as readers become more and more fluent that aids in their comprehension because as they’re not tripping over the words to decode them it’s easier for them to stop and think about what the words are saying,” said Rodebush.

Reading Partners Tulsa needs several more community volunteers to help tutor students.

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