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Andrew Hysell, executive director of the Kansas reading roadmap presents the success of the reading roadmap at Manhattan-Ogden schools.

The Manhattan-Ogden school district’s commitment to the full systematic approach of Kansas Reading Roadmap already has shown results for students, said Andrew Hysell, executive director of the program.

Hysell visited The Mercury Tuesday morning to explain the program, and how it has helped Manhattan-Ogden schools.

Kansas Reading Roadmap is a state initiative that aims to align classroom and after-school literacy programs for struggling readers to increase the percentage of students meeting goals at the end of third grade.

Along with classroom learning, the initiative provides after-school and summer programs and family engagement programs, Hysell said.

In the spring, the school board approved a $150,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Children and Families to expand the program to Bergman, Northview and Ogden elementary schools.

“Those new schools started mid-semester, which is always a challenge,” Hysell said. “I find that districts that are willing to do that are really committed.”

In 2014, the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan began offering the program at Bluemont, Lee and Theodore Roosevelt elementary schools. Marlatt Elementary joined the program in 2015.

“These sites have successfully completed the components with robust student growth,” Shivers said in the spring of the original group of schools using the program.

Hysell said early literacy is very important for students and can have lifelong effects. He said if students are not near grade-reading level in fourth grade they are four times more likely to not graduate from high school on time.

“If they are not proficient readers, their lifetime opportunities are limited,” he said. “It’s just this foundational skill that if you don’t have it, it limits your opportunities. That’s why we focus on it. That’s why school districts focus on it. It’s very important.”

The program pairs with the state’s multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), which USD 383 uses for student intervention tutoring to catch them up to grade-level standards.

USD 383’s commitment to the systematic approach has decreased the number of Tier Three students, which are the students who need the most intervention and are at-risk of being placed in special education, Hysell said. Conversely, the amount Tier One students, those who need the least amount of intervention and are close to grade-level reading proficiency, has increased.

At Bergman Elementary, which has only used the program for about one full semester, has increased its Tier One students from 66 percent to almost 71 percent and decreased its Tier Three students from 23 percent to 16 percent, according to Hysell’s data.

“The commitment they have to doing this is admirable and I think it’s already showing results,’ Hysell said.

Marvin Wade, USD 383 superintendent, said he’s encouraged by the progress that students have made, specifically students at the three schools that added the program just last spring.

“I feel really good about the program,” he said. “We are seeing results.”

Currently, Amanda Arnold and Woodrow Wilson elementary schools are the only two schools in the district that do not use the program. Wade said he would like to expand the program to them as well.

“I would love to be able to do that, but I know KRR has specific requirements about when and were the program can be implemented,” he said. “But I would love to be able to do that because I know it’s been beneficial.”

Dylan Lysen is the education reporter for the Manhattan Mercury. Follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen and on Facebook @DylanLysenNews.