According to the Iowa Department of Education, third and fourth-grade students in the Newton Community School District scored 78 percent and 70.67 percent, respectively, in the reading portion of the 2012 adequately yearly progress report.
In comparison, third-grade students in the neighboring Colfax-Mingo Community School District scored 95.45 percent, and fourth-grade students scored 70.97 percent. Newton has significantly more students than Colfax-Mingo,; however, in comparison to the similarly-sized North Scott Community School District, Newton scores still fell a bit lower.
North Scott third graders scored 88.14 percent, and the fourth graders scored 87.75 percent in same AYP report.
The overall numbers for Newton students have improved more than in previous years. For all students that count towards the AYP (grades third to eighth and 11th), the 2011-2012 reading scores jumped from 59.4 percent to 74.4 percent in 2012-2013.
There is a local, non-school related program, which is free of cost, that more parents and students should be taking advantage of to help raise scores even more.
In June, the Newton Public Library started its annual summer reading program and this year’s theme is “Dig into Reading.” While the program has been going on for a month, there are still plenty of activities to attend and registration doesn’t stop until Aug. 1.
• Every Wednesday, Porsche the Therapy Dog is available for children to practice their reading skills from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
• July 29 at 10:30 a.m. Ronald McDonald will make an appearance for a “Magic of Reading” show. Stories will be read and Ronald will perform magic. This event will also help benefit Ronald McDonald Houses for children, to aid the cause bring in tabs from pop cans. No pre-registration is required.
The biggest reward for children who complete the program is the Aug. 2 Pizza and Pool Party at Maytag Pool at 5 p.m. Readers will be rewarded with an admission ticket if they have successfully created the program.
So how does a child complete the program?
• Once you register, the child must set a goal of how many books he/she will read. If the child is too young to read on their own, a parent reading to them counts.
• After a book is read the child must write the title of the book on their book log.
• When a child hits their goal, they then turn in the log to the library and receive their ticket to the party. In addition, the child and parent receive one adult and one child ticket to an Iowa Cubs game and one free child pass to the Blank Park Zoo.
The first day of school isn’t until Aug. 21, so there is still plenty of time for summer reading and raising this year’s test scores. Members of the school board have also stressed the importance of improving the reading scores during board meetings.
In a previous interview, Berg Elementary Principal Jolene Comer made it very clear that reading was of absolute importance to herself, her students and staff.
“We wanted the kids to just have a joy of reading,” Comer said. We fill that love of reading in all of our kids so that they enjoy reading and learn how to read this year and for many years beyond.”