Benchmark Literacy Promises Improved Teacher and Student Classroom Reading Experiences for Kittitian Pupils

St Kitts’ Ministry of Education’s on-going thrust towards creating a pleasant learning experience for learners was heightened recently with the start of a workshop introducing teaching techniques for the Benchmark Content Literacy Programme.

Minister of Education and Information, Nigel Carty in an address to participants, reiterated the Denzil Douglas’ regime’s conviction that the 98% National Literacy rate was based on a traditional method of assessment which did not sufficiently measure comprehension of the subject matter. He emphasized his insistence that new standards be set in place to facilitate an increase in students reading capabilities including the understanding of what they read.

“They must be able to read at and above their grade level with full comprehension of the content,” Minister Carty said as he revealed deeper issues such as challenges that teachers are facing as they seek to cater to the diverse range of learning difficulties in classrooms.

A leading U.S. Based PublisherBenchmark Education Company,” through its literacy programmes, has sought to address these problems. Its mission to provide classroom tested solutions that help differentiate instruction and enable every student to achieve success, indicates to us that they are committed to developing the skills in teachers to help them prepare properly and effectively to teach our students, thus improving our literacy level,” stated the Education Minister.

Local Education Officials felt that the outstanding features of the Kindergarten to Grade Six based Content Literacy Programme qualified it for supplemental use in the Federation’s classrooms. These included continuous assessment of individual students at the start and throughout the school year; as well as the high level of teacher support and interactive technology such as white boards, e-books and online assessments provided by Benchmark.

{IMAGE COURTESY -} SKN's Min. of Edu. & Information, Nigel Carty

Director of International Sales and Marketing at Benchmark Education Ms. Cara Gamberdella said she works with a wide range of customers throughout the globe ensuring that the materials are culturally appropriate and that educators are versed in the use of the product.

Ms. Gamberdella, touting her company’s leadership in the reading industry, explained that their research based resources are used across thousands of classrooms in the United States, Latin America and the Middle East. She highlighted further that independent organizations carry out evaluations on their products and give high marks.

The highly rated Benchmark Programme, as indicated on their materials, prides itself on a carefully graded and consistent sequence that allows students to transition smoothly between levels as well as its self dubbed “gradual release” which moves students from teacher-focussed instruction to independent reading over a period of time.

During the May 2-3 Benchmark Workshop Principals, Guidance Counsellors and Education officers were trained on Wednesday while Language Arts and Reading Resource Teachers were trained on Thursday in the use of resources.

Special commendation was made to local Reading Coordinator Mrs. Jacquelyn Lewis Bassue by Minister Carty for her role in coordinating the Benchmark Content Literacy Workshop.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Ionie Liburd-Willett, was present at the ceremony giving her support and expressing her continued commitment to implementing strategic programmes geared at advancing content literacy education.

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