Nearly every school district in the Nashville area needs help in one subject — reading. Standardized test data released Wednesday shows language is a common sore spot.
Even the most successful systems in the state are backtracking. Affluent Williamson County, where more than 80 percent of students are labeled proficient or advanced in reading, still dipped by nearly three points last year. Rutherford County moved down more than two percent. Maury County slid a bit further.
The only sizeable district near Nashville to post reading gains was Sumner County.
Third grade teacher Jennifer Cary of Nashville’s Cockrill Elementary feels like there might be a fundamental flaw in the new approach to language instruction.
“I don’t feel as though we focus so much in teaching children to love reading," she says. "We read, we answer questions, we take a test. We read, we answer questions, we take a test. And in life, that’s not why you and I read.”
Cary says she reads to students every day, even working in chapter books.
"I try to engage them in that love. And then from that love say here’s how you can use what you’ve read about to help you," she says.
School officials aren’t talking about backing away from the new standards for reading. Instead, they’re investing in personnel. In Metro Schools alone, the district is doubling the number of reading recovery teachers and increasing the number of reading clinics. They’re also planning parent workshops to offer tips for inspiring students to read outside of school.