Principal of the Top Hill All-Age and Infant School in Manchester, Ilene Williams, is crediting the one hour per day reading programme, implemented last year with the school's success in the Grade Four Literacy Test.
All 68 students, who sat the test in June, which is administered by the Ministry of Education, achieved 100 per cent mastery. "Statistics show that Top Hill All-age and Infant is the only school in the parish of Manchester that achieved 100 per cent mastery in the literacy test," the principal boasted at a function held recently at the school to celebrate the achievement.
The programme, which was implemented through guidance from the education officers assigned to the school, entails teachers reading to students, then teachers and students reading together and then the students reading by themselves. Students are given comprehension questions, grammar and spelling exercises to end the hour.
There is follow-up at home where parents are encouraged to read with and to their children from books issued at school, which the students are allowed to take home.
Students read from a variety of sources such as the Doctor Bird Series from the Ministry of Education, library books, and recommended texts and newspapers.
Ms. Williams encouraged other principals to adopt the reading programme to help to improve the literacy level of students. "I tell you, this really works and if it is not in your school, you are going to fall short. It really helps the children to move on with their literacy skills," she stated.
She further highlighted the bond between school and community created by the birth of the Past Students Association in 2006 and the revitalization of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), which have led to an increase in enrolment, regular board meetings, and staff development initiatives.
She said that out of these measures strategies were discussed, which were implemented leading to successes in both the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and the Grade Four Literacy Test.
Meanwhile, Community Relations Officer attached to the Ministry of Education (MOE), Region Five Office, Charmaine Gooden-Monteith, in her remarks, said that the celebration gives credence to this year's Parents' Month theme: 'Parenting the Right Way: Read With Your Child Everyday'.
She said that the Ministry is looking to partner with PTAs as part of the education transformation process.
"The importance of PTA as a critical partner has been around for many years. Many schools are aware that they can achieve very little without the help of a very strong PTA. PTAs are being given the national recognition that they deserve because it is now very clear that for any effective transformation, the home and the school will have to go back to the drawing board to work with each other and the PTA is definitely one such vehicle," she stated.