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Durham Finds Pilot Reading Program Is Paying Off for Students

The schools say the Reading Achievement Program (RAP) is showing results in math and science, not just children's ability to read.

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DURHAM, N.C. — 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.