Reading initiative improving performance at Westfield schools

Franklin Ave. School has risen from Level 3 to Level 1

Franklin Avenue School
Franklin Avenue School (The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Westfield schools are celebrating success through a new initiative that aims to improve reading skills in elementary school students. The district has been taking part in the Bay State Reading Institute, which is designed to make all student proficient in reading by the end of the third grade.

Studies have shown that students who are not proficient readers by this time are much more to have academic problems in further grades, and are more likely to drop out of high school and earn less money as adults.

When 8-year-old MayLynn Fortini began the school year, she was an average reader. Now, she’s a prize pupil at Franklin Avenue Elementary School in Westfield, a school singled out by the Massachusetts state Senate for its students reading achievements.

“It makes us all feel amazing,” Principal Fran St. Peter said. “This is our job, and no profession can happen without it. Every profession has it’s roots in teaching, someone taught someone something.”

St. Peter points with pride at her student’s reading achievement rising higher in a short time than any school in Massachusetts. But, her greatest pride is in her students like MayLynn Fortini. MayLynn’s computer skill has become the key to her reading excellence

Under the program, students whose first language is not English had progressed at four times the state average. The Franklin Avenue Elementary School, which has a high percentage of low-income students, had advanced from a Level 3 school to a Level 1- the highest ranking in state accountability standards.