CENTERBURG — Each morning, about 75 Centerburg Middle School students start the school day by participating in a special intervention period.
That first period intervention opportunity was the vision of principal Mike Hebenthal, who worked with the schedules to make sure students could get the extra help they needed. It is required for students who did not pass the Ohio Achievement Assessments in math and/or reading in the spring of 2010.
During first period, they receive one-on-one or small-group focused instruction in math and reading. Vicki Eckhart, one of the teachers involved in the program, said instruction in math and reading is offered every other day.
“This schedule allows us to correlate the intervention with the students’ core classes, as well as remediate content skills,” Eckhart explained.
Those students enrolled in the math portion learn fundamental math skills and are also provided with pre-teaching and remediation in their current content standards.
Those in reading intervention receive instruction which differs from typical middle school reading. Typically, Eckhart said, middle schoolers read to learn, while those in the intervention period work on getting a refresher course on learning to read. That means they refine reading skills such as decoding, vocabulary and fluency.
Besides traditional teaching methods such as reading stories aloud, instructional technology plays a big role in the program, Eckhart said. That includes programs such as leveled stories on CDs and interactive novels. With Vocabulary Basics, the students learn eight new words per week, and practice using context clues and parts of speech to decipher words unfamiliar to them.
To ensure the students are learning the material in the content standards required by law, the teachers and aides use practice tests from the Ohio Achievement Assessments and have the students answer actual test questions when they are released.
Eckhart said she is excited to be part of the intervention program, and added that the concept and reality of a dedicated intervention period gives instructors extra time to repeat and reteach concepts a student may be having difficulty comprehending. With short-cycle assessments, the instructors can differentiate and meet the needs of each student at his or her own level.
As for the students, Eckhart said they seem to be motivated to take full advantage of the opportunity. “They like the small group atmosphere and appreciate the extra help,” said Eckhart. “They seem more comfortable asking questions. We are seeing improved participation in class, increased homework completion and better quiz and test scores in their core classes.”
An extra incentive for the students, she said, is that if they work really hard, they won’t have to come back [to intervention] next year.