Brian Vaughn

A state law passed in 2012 called on Iowa schools to identify struggling readers and improve the quality of reading instruction. In some elementary schools, reading aloud is being emphasized.

“Our staff has spent multiple weeks teaching, modeling, observing, conferring, self-reflecting on what fluent readers look and sound like in our classrooms,” says Brian Vaughn, principal of Cornell Elementary in the Saydel Community School District.

“Cornell students now know that to be a fluent reader, they need to pay attention to their automaticity — reading quick, smooth and accurate; phrasing — making sure that my group of words sound like talking — and monitoring of expression, to make sure their voice matches the punctuation.”

Vaughn says his teaching staff is building a “community of readers” with these strategies.

“Our work here was to get students to start thinking about themselves as a reader,” Vaughn says, “because knowing one’s self as a reader has empowered them to take charge of their own learning and reach those fluency goals.”

The most recent statewide data indicates about 70 percent of kindergarten through third grade students in Iowa’s public and private schools are reading at or above grade level.