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Durango school district’s director of curriculum touts virtual tutoring service

Students advance two grade levels over the course of four months
A Sunnyside Elementary School student participates in Ignite Reading virtual tutoring on Tuesday. (Courtesy of Ignite Reading)

Durango School District 9-R says reading competency at Sunnyside Elementary School has jumped since starting Ignite Reading virtual tutorials in September.

Student reading progressed at a pace of 2.4 weeks’ worth of content per week since September, according to a news release from Ignite Reading.

On Tuesday, Ignite representatives shared the results from these tutoring sessions with 9-R staff members and Sunnyside students.

Ignite is a virtual reading service that helps students learn how to close decoding gaps in reading literacy. A decoding gap is related to a student’s ability to read printed words accurately and rapidly.

Ignite Reading serves 125 students in grades one to five in Durango School District 9-R. In five months, 64% of students who started at a kindergarten reading skill level advanced to first or second grade reading levels, according to Ignite.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress our students have made in literacy through our partnership with Ignite Reading,” said Laurie Rossback, 9-R executive director of curriculum. “This partnership has boosted the confidence and skills of students with the most critical reading gaps, and we are excited to see their gains continue throughout this year and beyond. Ignite Reading’s personalized instruction provides a strong foundation for our students to develop fluency and confidence in reading.”

Durango School District 9-R’s elementary school students have remained relatively consistent over the last three years with Colorado Measures of Academic Success English Language Arts testing.

In 2023, 43.6% of 9-R third graders met or exceeded expectations on the ELA portion of the CMAS testing. This is a slight decrease from the 44.8% who met or exceeded expectations in 2022.

Fourth graders experienced a 2.3% bump in students who met or exceeded expectations on ELA testing scores, while fifth graders saw a 0.4% drop in the percentage of students who met or exceeded said expectations.

The Ignite method pairs students with tutors for 15 minutes per day, using the science of reading to help students master foundational skills necessary to become independent readers.

“Durango students have demonstrated exceptional reading gains in a remarkably short time. Participating in Ignite Reading’s individualized tutoring program, students have achieved an impressive average of 2.4 weeks’ worth of reading progress for every week of instruction,” Ignite CEO Jessica Reid Sliwerski said. “We’ve also observed a significant positive impact on their social-emotional development. We consider it a privilege to continue supporting the remarkable students, families, and educators in the Durango community.”

Virtual literacy tutoring is becoming popular on a national scale.

Ignite is teaching thousands of students to read across 13 states in addition to Colorado.

In 2023, researchers from the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University tracked the reading progress of about 2,000 students in kindergarten to second grade in a dozen Texas charter schools.

Half the students in the study were randomly assigned to attend class normally, while half received intensive remote tutoring for part of the school day, in small groups.

Researchers found that tutored students scored significantly better on Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills testing.

First graders who received tutoring in one-on-one sessions improved the most. On average, their performance was nearly 6 percentile points higher than that of pupils who did not receive tutoring.


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