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Durham Finds Pilot Reading Program Is Paying Off for Students

Posted June 4, 2007

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— As the slogan has long said, reading is fundamental to just about everything we do. Yet, some children struggle with the most basic words.

The Durham Public Schools say, however, that a three-year-old pilot program called the Reading Achievement Program, or RAP, appears to work.

Over the last three years, 130 students and a handful of teachers have been involved in RAP.

“Once they learned the routine of the program, they got excited about it,” teacher Cynthia Webb said.

The program was aimed at children with learning disabilities, those considered at risk. Teachers and students partnered with workers at the Hill Center, a learning development center.

They underwent intense learning drills several times a week. Each class had just four students. In RAP, students repeat and repeat until they get it right.

“We won't start working on anything until they've mastered a skill, and then each builds on the next one,” program coordinator Felisa Morgan said.

Teachers say that one of the keys to RAP is praise and positive reinforcement.

“When you have a child who feels good about learning, then they want to learn more,” Webb said.

Teachers in the pilot program say that students aren't just showing improved test scores in reading, they're doing better in math and science too. And most importantly, the teacher say, the children now believe in themselves.

The Hill Center has similar programs in Carteret and Davie counties.

8 Comments

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  • ProudMom Jun 5, 2007

    As a parent of child diagnosed with dylexia and reading disabilities I can validate the success the RAP program has provided for my child. My son participated the first two years of the program at Hillandale Elementary. The RAP program helped him master reading skills that were difficult with his disabilities. He just completed his first year of middle school where he was on the A/B Honor roll. He would not have achieved these grades had he not received a solid foundation this program provided (along with the dedicated teachers - Mrs. Tillett and Ms. Beauman)

  • cinnamon Jun 5, 2007

    Whatever it takes to educate this country's future!

  • SANDHILL Jun 5, 2007

    Is'nt it amazing that after years of saying learning by "rote" was not the way to teach it now is working. Makes me wonder how some educators can live and be so dumb!

  • Panther Jun 5, 2007

    by the sounds of this program, it should be adopted in more areas than just Durham.

  • icy148 Jun 5, 2007

    Sounds like a really well thought out and effective program! (Maebi Tyrone neds two inrol...)

  • Durham-Raleigh Jun 5, 2007

    "This is the most rediculous thing I've heard of in my entire life."

    I'm sure the kids who are learning to read will be literate enough to know the proper spelling for ridiculous. :)

    Nothing to mock or laugh at here -- particularly if you live in a glass house. Good for these kids for making progress, and the school and the Hill Center for making the effort.

  • gooddayfolks Jun 5, 2007

    Way to go!!! Whatever works for the students is step in the right direction! Keep it up!!!

  • Tyrone Williams Jun 4, 2007

    This is the most rediculous thing I've heard of in my entire life. I needed a good laugh though.