New Roanoke Valley Reading Theatre could help raise reading scor - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

New Roanoke Valley Reading Theatre could help raise reading scores

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Average state average SOL scores in reading dropped dramatically last year by 14 points.

Here in our area scores at some school districts dropped even more than the state average.

The Roanoke Children's Theatre is working on a new program to help students read better and score higher.  It would be available at libraries and community centers.

Traci Altice says teaching children to read is challenging.

"Children come to you with various abilities, you have your high readers, your average readers and of course your low readers," said Altice, a Bonsack Elementary third grade teacher who adds using theatre can help. "You're working on fluency, you're working on vocabulary instruction and you're working on overall meaning of the text."

It's a strategy Pat Wilheims at the Roanoke Children's Theatre is working to start in the Roanoke Valley. It's worked before during a pilot program at Smith Mountain Lake.

"Kids who cannot really think of themselves as readers before and had difficulty by the end of the week they were reading and expressing themselves just like we hoped they would," said Wilheims.

Across the Commonwealth SOL reading test scores dropped last year:
-Roanoke City: reading scores were in the 80s and dropped to the 60s
-Roanoke County: scores were in the 90s and dropped to the 80s
-Franklin County: some scores dropped into the 30s and 40s

Schools and the Virginia Department of Education say a change in the tests contributed to the drop. The tests used to be all multiple choice where students could guess or eliminate answers.

But now the tests include a "drag and drop" or fill in the blank where students have to use critical thinking skills and apply what they've learned.

"We want to make sure our kids don't fall victim do these statistics. This is our way of helping everyone we care about and their families and an ever widening pool of kids reach their full potential," said Amanda Mansfield the Roanoke Children's Theatre Director of Development.

The RCT is waiting for a grant to help pay for the project.

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