State Superintendent visits Savannah-Chatham Co. elementary school to learn about reading program

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:09 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Young readers in Savannah Chatham County Public Schools are more than doubling the national average for reading fluency thanks to a virtual program, according to public school leaders.

Georgia’s state superintendent Richard Woods stopped by Godley Station K-8 to learn about a program helping students excel in those reading scores.

While physical books are still in the classroom, reading is looking a bit different for kids in Kindergarten through third grade thanks to a program called Amira. It’s something the state superintendent says he’s very impressed by.

Emmanuel is a 3rd grader at Godley Station K-8 who says since using Amira his reading has gotten.... “very good.”

“I’ve seen so much improvement in my students,” Teacher Chelsea Barnes said.

It’s been in classrooms throughout the district since 2020.

So how does it work? First grade teacher Chelsea Barnes says the program gives students a sentence to read and students repeat it.

If they miss a word....

“It’ll pull up on the screen and it’ll break the word down for them so they can learn the word,” said Barnes.

According to Savannah Chatham Public School officials, last school year students read 1.2 million minutes. And last semester students have already read 79 million words.

State Superintendent Woods saw how it works firsthand.

“I wish I would have had this growing up,” Woods said.

Woods says the program will also help children who don’t speak English as their first language. He says he was impressed by the students who told them they also use Amira at home.

“It allows kids that need remediation that we can better identify that but also for those kids that are ready to accelerate,” Woods said. “We’re not holding them back as well.”

Woods says he’ll be getting with the district officials to see how much the program costs and if it’s feasible to implement across the state.

“What does it take to invest? You’re looking at sustainability as well,” Woods said.

But Emmanuel thinks it should be in more schools.

“For other people to become better readers.”