Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Numbers Don't Add Up

We have approximately 3,150 students enrolled in our school.  We have a One Book, One Grade Level summer reading program where each grade level reads the same book and then they read a second book of their choice.  Based on the data I have gathered, I estimate that approximately only 21% of our student population outside of the IB junior and senior courses are participating in summer reading.
9th-12th grade check out data from our media center (MC) and purchases at Barnes and Noble (BN) are listed here.  The total number of students from 9 to 12 excludes the number of students enrolled in 11th & 12th grade IB as well as dual enrollment.  It is not totally scientific.  Just a snapshot of the data that I have.  
As I shared in my first post about summer reading and access, we had 150 copies for the ninth and tenth grade book and 120 copies of the 11th grade book.  All of the ninth grade books where checked out as were most of the tenth grade books.  We never ran out of 11th grade books and due to the changing titles each year for our 12th graders, we weren't able to purchase books.  Although we have books in our media center, I am not sure that we have enough books to get in all of our students' hands.

We work hard to inform our incoming ninth graders at our well-attended Freshman Fair in February about our summer reading requirements.  We send flyers home to our feeder schools.  We were able to get all of our books checked out at Freshman Orientation, a week before school started.  It is not surprising that freshmen read more since we seemed to work harder here, perhaps because they are farther away.

At school, we tried to do a sale at school before summer ended, but most students balked at buying a book.   I am not surprised, 75% of our students eat free and reduced lunch.  I have a few ideas about how to overcome that, but I think at this point, we are missing a  huge piece of data here...student voice!  What obstacles keep them from acquiring and then reading for summer.

When I taught ninth graders,100% of my students completed summer reading because I actually put a book into student hands. That, however, didn't mean they read over summer, rather they just couldn't opt out of participate in the summer reading book.  I think that is ok,  but what is the purpose of summer reading if kids aren't doing it?  I know the research and now summer reading matters. I read more in the summer than I do at anytime during the year as does my daughter.

What can we do as a learning community in May and June to frontload summer reading and continue throughout the summer to ensure that all of our students in grades 9-12 read?  How can  we work with parents to promote summer reading?  Sales peaked Barnes and Noble in June when we did a Connect-Ed home and perhaps we need to do that more often and just target specific groups of students.  I also wonder if we could do an at school or at Barnes and Noble summer event to get parents and students out. It is hard building a culture of reading outside of school during the school year and then sustain it throughout the summer. My next steps as literacy coach are to survey the students and the teachers.


  1. I wonder how many students purchase or check out books that cannot track? I believe more than 21% of our students are reading and doing summer reading assignments. Anonymous polls I've run in class when I did not teach IB and AP would suggest a higher percentage too (75% or so). Can we ever really know how many read and how many do not if students are not in our spheres of influence? Thanks for thinking about summer reading and keeping the questions in front of us.

  2. That is disappointing data. I hope it is inaccurate. I am really interested to see what your students say. In addition to access, I think the success also depends on how well the previous teacher promoted and instilled a culture of reading. I assume if students had a positive experience the year before, they would be more willing, and more likely, to read over the summer. Anyway, these are really interesting questions raised by your data.


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