East Oregonian Herald

Morrow County schools expand reading program

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HEPPNER — The Morrow County School District has expanded its use of the Ignite! Reading program.

Ignite! seeks to put students on track so they are able to read at grade level. It pairs students with tutors for remote sessions. In these sessions, a tutor guides a student through 15-minute lessons that ultimately improve reading fundamentals. Program leaders boast that typical Ignite! students make 2.4 weeks of reading progress for every week they are in the program.

Three of the district’s five elementary schools started the program last year: A. C. Houghton Elementary School in Irrigon, Sam Boardman Elementary School in Boardman and Heppner Elementary School in Heppner. Erin Stocker, executive director of elementary education for the district, said the schools sent a total of 35 students to the pilot of the reading program.

At the conclusion of the school year, she said, the district had a meeting to discuss moving forward with the program. Stocker said the results were “very promising.” Rachel Herron, the district’s data instruction coach, agreed.

“According to our data, our comparative data that we used with Ignite!, compared to the holistic view of the student achievement,” she said, “it showcased that the Ignite! program was a successful intervention for our schools that participated.”

Herron said data shows the program’s impact as having been “significant.” It seems to have helped students become better readers in all three of the schools.

This finding is exciting, Stocker said, and caused the district to get more involved with the Ignite! program. Now 104 students are in the program. The three original schools returned this year, and Windy River Elementary School of Boardman has jumped on board.

Stocker described the program as having come to her through “good luck.” She had a contact with Eastern Oregon University, which was in discussions with the Ignite! Reading program. EOU would eventually provide tutors to the program, and Morrow County students would participate.

According to Stocker, the timing of this involvement wasn’t ideal. Students started just before spring break 2022. Still, school administrators were interested in the program, and it turned out well, she said.

Stocker also said this year is a little different. Last school year, the tutors were from EOU, this year they come from colleges elsewhere in the country.

Stocker said the EOU students, who would otherwise be tutoring Ignite! students, are not ready for this work. She added she anticipates EOU tutors returning to get involved later in the year.

In the meantime, Stocker said, Morrow County School District students will continue with Ignite! work. And other school districts are using the program.

James Freedland, an Ignite! consultant, said Central Middle School, Ferndale Elementary School and Gib Olinger Elementary School in Milton-Freewater have introduced their students to the program.

Now, he said, Ignite! has expanded to more than 20 schools in five states. There are now 1,100 students and more than 200 tutors involved.

From “Morrow County schools expand reading program” By Erick Peterson

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