Freshmen Receive Reading Assistance

Fremont students are now getting help in reading with a new literacy program.
Literacy specialist Michelle Gonzalez started teaching “Academic Literacy” in the first few weeks of the school year and already some students have “graduated” from the class with improved reading skills.

Students — so far just freshmen — are placed in the class based mostly on their results of the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), a reading comprehension test all high school students in the Oakland Unified School District are now required to take.
The SRI gives students scores from 0 to 1,500 points. Students whose reading scores fall below the 700 Lexile are recommended for the course. If students reach a Lexile level of 800, which is about a grade-eight reading level, they can leave the program.
The Academic Literacy classes include about 30 students at a time. They are divided into two classes of 15 students during 5th and 6th periods.
In previous years, students who took the reading intervention classes, called Read 189, took the course for the whole year and were not able to test out of it.
Gonzalez, a Fremont High graduate, taught at College Preparatory & Architecture Academy for two years and then at Youth Empowerment School for one year before returning to Fremont as a literacy specialist.
Gonzalez said the program will help students in their whole academic experience and to keep up with other classes.
Studies shows that reading is one of the most important skills for academic success. According to literacydirectory.org, children who cannot read by third grade are more likely to drop out of school, do drugs or go to jail.
Besides the individual students benefitting from the intervention, Gonzales sees hope for the school.
“The school will benefit from the reading program because scores on the California Standards Test will likely go up if students improve their reading skills,” she said.
Many teachers are hopeful about the program.
“I know that the district is trying to emphasize literacy in high grades, so we now have a literacy specialist on campus,” said Media Academy English teacher Sonja Totten-Harris. “I’m hoping she’ll be able to help struggling readers get up to grade level.”
Although some students have been reluctant to attend the literacy class, some of those who do attend regularly enjoy it.
“We do work [but] it’s not that much work in this class like others, and the teacher is awesome,” said CPAA sophomore Jose Puac.
Media Academy freshman Damon Randle agrees.
“I like the teacher. I know my typing skills have gone up due to this class,” said Randle. “My favorite thing to do in this class is reading.”