New accelerated effort is raising reading skills at kindergarten level All-day and pre-school instruction called success


Below-average students enrolled in all-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten courses last fall received accelerated reading instruction that brought them up to grade level, a Howard County educator reported to the school board yesterday.

Recent tests showed that after three quarters of instruction, pre-kindergarten pupils who started below average were able to identify nearly as many letters and sounds as average beginning kindergartners, said Ann Mintz, instructional facilitator for language arts.

Mintz said the results indicate that the younger students are on pace to perform at grade level when they start kindergarten this fall. Similarly, students who had full-day kindergarten had skills that place them on grade level with average first-grade students, she said.

"Bravo," said board member Karen Campbell. "I can see why you're proud. This is what it's all about."

Pre-kindergarten was a pilot program at Running Brook Elementary School in 1996-1997 and expanded last fall to Laurel Woods, Phelps Luck and Talbott Springs elementaries. This year, Running Brook also has included students from Swansfield Elementary.

Extended-day kindergarten began last fall at Laurel Woods, Phelps Luck, Running Brook and Talbott Springs elementaries.

Both programs will be expanded next year to Dasher Green, Guilford and Swansfield elementaries.

Also yesterday, board members approved a systemwide code of conduct that will dictate specific consequences for disruptive behavior. The policy addresses 43 infractions such as using profanity, engaging in sexual activity and misbehaving on school buses.

The policy will go into effect this fall.

Also last night, the board approved homework guidelines that suggest an hourly range that students at each grade should spend weekly outside class time -- one to five hours for kindergarten through fifth grade; five to 10 hours for sixth through eighth grades; and seven to 15 hours for ninth through 12th grades.

Board members stressed that the guidelines merely provide suggestions.

"I don't think it's in our purview to know what the teacher is teaching in the classroom or what a student is able to learn," said Sandra H. French, a school board member.

The board approved two policies last night.

One policy bars foreign students from enrolling in Howard schools unless they are registered in State Department-approved exchange programs.

The other -- as dictated by a state law that takes effect July 1 -- gives only school officials, PTA groups and military organizations access to student names and addresses.

Pub Date: 5/22/98

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