Myrtle Philip school receives grant to improve early literacy 

Myrtle Philip elementary school has been awarded a grant to help identify and work with kids who may have trouble learning to read.

The grant was awarded through the School Recognition Program, which is run out of the University of British Columbia's School Leadership Centre.

"I was excited to get the call," said Myrtle Philip Principal Ron Albertin.

"I think it is great.. When you put a proposal in to say, 'hey this is what we have done and this is where we want to go,' and they say, 'that sounds great,' that's exciting for sure."

The school will receive $3,000 to start up and operate a program to teach parents how to help improve student-reading skills in the classroom.

Obviously, said Albertin, the school needs parent volunteers to get the program up and running.

"But this is an excellent way for parents to get involved with the school and do something important," Albertin told a busy Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Council meeting this week.

Albertin explained that the students are being assessed using a tool called the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.

They are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills.

The measures were developed to assess student development of phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding and automaticity, and fluency with the code.

Each measure has been thoroughly researched and demonstrated to be reliable. It also offers valid indicators of early literacy development and is predictive of later reading proficiency.

But where Myrtle Philip's project is falling down is in reaching each student who needs help. There simply isn't enough time or staff for every student who needs help to get intervention.

That's where the parents will come in. Once the kids are assessed trained parents will spend time with the kids one on one with teacher supervision.

Albertin believes the project really works. He points to statistics which show that the number of students at risk in the 2000-01 Grade 1 class fell by 8 per cent to 13 per cent over two years with intervention by the school.

And last year's Grade 1 class had only 6 per cent of students not meeting the benchmark for reading.

"We'd like to think that (was because of the intervention) so what we would like to do is provide more to see if we can get those numbers down even more," said Albertin.

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