This spring, Manley High School saw a sizable increase in the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level in reading on the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP).

After suffering a 4 percentage-point drop last spring, reading test scores rebounded, jumping from 12 percent to 21 percent at or above national norms. That gain was due entirely to improvement among10th-graders. Ninth-grade reading scores fell slightly this year. The test is not given to 11th- or 12th-graders.

Principal Katherine Flanagan says the gain is “probably based on what we’ve been doing, and over time things are going to improve.”

Three years ago, Manley began a collaborative effort with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to improve reading comprehension in all subject areas. (See story.) G. Alfred Hess Jr. of Northwestern University, who evaluated the program during the 2000-2001 school year, speculates that new English teachers Manley hired that year played a significant role in this year’s score increase.

The new teachers, who were mentored by a lead teacher from UIC, demonstrated more commitment to the project than had their predecessors, Hess believes.

Before the project began, Manley ranked 77th out of 78 high schools on the TAP reading scores for 9th and 10th-graders. This year’s gain placed Manley 46th out of 85 high schools.

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