The state of Hawai’i is doing many great things in public education. We have standards-based curriculum reported in a standards-based report card which directly reflects the curriculum and student achievement. Teachers teach students to master each standard and implement interventions for students who do not meet the standard. One of the programs used at the school where I teach and where my child attends is called the CAFÉ program. This program occurs after school using research-based computer programs for reading and math as well as an interactive reading block called LitART which is designed to increase reading comprehension, reading levels and build a love of reading.
Through a grant, the CAFÉ program is offered in the Castle Complex located in the Windward District of Hawai’i. Students are selected based on their Hawai’i State Assessment Scores. They participate in this program 4 days a week for about 2 hours a day after school. In the area of Math, students use the online Math program called “It’s All About Kids.” This program allows students to work at their level and relearn some of the skills that they missed somewhere along the way. Based on a pretest, students participate in a number of learning activities and quizzes which focus on their area of deficit. Once they complete all of the activities and quizzes in that chapter they take a post test. Their teacher or sight administrator monitors their test scores and assigns them the same activities, more activities on the same chapter or moves them to a different chapter i.e. fractions, geometry, numeric operations, etc. Students who use this program who are closely monitored by an adult are successful. Many students in a year's time of working on this computer program gain the skills they were missing and perform at grade level.
In the area of reading, the LitART program engages students in all areas of reading and helps them to deepen their understanding of the stories and novels they read. The online reading program that we use in our CAFÉ afterschool program is called “Achieve 3000.” Teachers assign articles for students to read at their reading level. Once students are done reading the article, they answer 5 comprehension questions and an essay question. Students are given an immediate score on the comprehension questions and are given a 2nd chance to take the quiz again to try and score better. Students are also able to log on and select their own articles they want to read. If a student is young and is learning how to read or has special needs, the teacher can change their profile to allow them to listen to the article and then take the comprehension quiz.
Our school, complex and district have seen an increase in student achievement because of online programs like these. Our complex has had the opportunity to have the CAFE afterschool program for the past 5 years. Both parents and students need to be on board and in agreement to maintain good attendance, remain positive and try their best during this extended day. Students and parents that were fully committed truly benefited educationally and personally from the CAFÉ programs offered in the Castle Complex Schools.
Tiffany Pratt, the 2011 Mom Congress delegate from Hawaii, is a mother of four children and an elementary pre-school SPED teacher at Kapunahala Elementary School on the island of Oahu.