Pointe Coupee school seeing jump in proficiency with buddy literacy program

The little feet hopscotch along, letting each shoe touch the "power words" that line the hallway floor.

Kindergartners' crayon-crafted drawings of spiders in their webs are accompanied by fully formed sentences. The letters are big and sometimes backward, but the intent is there: “The spider makes a web to catch flies,” one wrote.

When asked, most of the kindergarten through second-grade students at Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary School could tell you what their reading level is and, in the same breath, what it would take to advance to the next.

It's a far cry from previous years for the persistently struggling school, but administrators say you must be aggressive to change a culture.

The school's chronically low scores have garnered its status as a School Redesign program facility, under which the state identifies schools most in need of intervention to move students to where they need to be academically.

That status helped secure the funding for the American Reading Co. literacy curriculum that Assistant Principal Brandi Forbes credits to turning the school's kindergarten through second grade reading scores around this year.

The entire district implemented the curriculum, known as ARC, last school year but rolled out the full suite for 2018-19.

Upper Pointe Coupee took it a step further. The school developed a buddy reading program and the "power word playroom" to target students who need emergency help with their literacy.

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