I have concerns about Naperville District 203's recently announced proposal to eliminate the long-standing Leap and K-Leap reading programs. I am the mother of three District 203 graduates, and a former elementary school library media center director and children's services librarian. In the early 1990s, I worked for two years as a Leap Tutor.
I have been impressed with the quality of that program, not only by the caliber of the tutors, but also what has been accomplished for so many young readers, who enter the program lagging behind their peers, but who leave the program equipped with strategies to help them grow their skills and succeed in the classroom.
Through the Leap programs, District 203 has done a wonderful job of boosting the skills of our youngest struggling students, who might have fallen through the cracks had their emergent needs not been recognized and met early on. These are not students with needs for long-term specialized intervention, but rather children with a variety of "readiness" issues that can be met by focused, short-term intervention.
The proposed new model returns reading intervention to the classroom, to small group settings where the pace of instruction is set by the group not by the individual learner. Moving this instruction back into a busy classroom also seems problematic. Part of the beauty of the Leap programs is that tutors have uninterrupted one-on-one instructional time with these easily distracted young learners. When competencies have been met in the individually paced Leap model, students are dismissed from the program to rejoin their classmates.
I would urge that current parents, faculty, and board members reconsider the value of these proven programs before discontinuing them. More study and evaluation and piloting needs to be done before the proposed new program can be considered for districtwide implementation.
Sheila Bailey Rossi