Bronx Elementary School Finds Solution

Published on August 19, 2009, 12:19 pm
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During the 2008-2009 school year, PS 396 in the Bronx, tested McGraw-Hill Education’s Reading Mastery, Signature Edition with struggling readers. After strong results compared to previous reading scores as well as peer schools in New York City, the elementary school will expand use of Reading Mastery from Grades 2-4 to include Grades K-1.

One teacher using the program stated, “You have given us a gift. I’m a third grade teacher and when six struggling students who couldn’t get past level K sail into the first and second grade reading levels, I’ve been given a gift.”

Principal Lawrence Wright first approached SRA/McGraw-Hill about documenting the pilot in a research evaluation. The company’s research department used a non-randomized comparison group research design, using four of PS 396’s peer schools as the comparison group. (Each New York City public school is assigned to a peer group based on key demographics such as racial composition, Title I status, and past academic performance.)

The four peer schools were performing better than PS 396 in reading prior to the beginning of the study, according to the 2008 New York English Language Arts (ELA) exam. Specifically, only 24 percent of the students in PS 396 performed better than their counterparts in the peer schools.

After the first year of using Reading Mastery with the school’s struggling readers in Grades 2-4, the ELA exam shows tremendous growth. For instance, the percentage of Grade 3 students at PS 396 who passed reading on the ELA improved from 29.9% in 2008 to 87.5% in 2009.

In addition, among the four peer schools, PS 396 made the largest gain of Grades 3-4 students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the ELA test from the spring of 2008 to the spring of 2009: PS 396 made an 18 percentile point increase, moving from the 24th to the 42nd percentile.

Interviews following the pilot with Principal Wright, teachers, and students, all expressed positive feedback for using Reading Mastery for reading intervention. Principal Wright also said, “Working with smaller groups on intervention, paraprofessionals can effectively teach Reading Mastery and make quite an impact!”

To review the complete evaluation report in .pdf format, open the attachment on the right-hand side of this article.

About PS 396

PS 396 is a PreK-4 school located in the Bronx, New York. The school serves an ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged population of roughly 280 students, 77% of whom are Hispanic and 21% African American. About one-fourth of the students speak English as a second language, and 92% qualify for free or reduced-priced meals.


Jonas Bronck is the pseudonym under which we publish and manage the content and operations of The Bronx Daily.™ | - the largest daily news publication in the borough of "the" Bronx with over 1.5 million annual readers. Publishing under the alias Jonas Bronck is our humble way of paying tribute to the person, whose name lives on in the name of our beloved borough.