The T.C. Williams High School Ben Carson Reading Room opened to much fanfare early this year and new data show it works.
The room was designed to encourage students to learn more about assistive technologies such as e-readers while focusing on reading and homework during class breaks and after school.
A new report from Hanover Research shows that while 43 percent of tested T.C. students recorded gains in reading levels between fall 2011 and spring 2012, 57 percent of Reading Room student visitors saw their scores improve. The report addresses many aspects of T.C. Williams' transformation (PDF) process.
“In fact, almost half of those students earned increases of more than 100 Lexile points, compared to average growth of 25 points for most high school students,” says the report.
As of April 30, the Reading Room documented 501 visits from 147 different students, or 17 percent of the student body, according to Hanover.
Roughly 27 percent of the visits focused primarily on class assignments or homework.
T.C. encouraged visits by awarding prizes to the two students who spent the most minutes in the room each month.
The Reading Room is supported by a $10,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.
The Carson Scholars Fund helped secure the award. It’s the first facility sponsored by the fund in a high school and the first to feature technologies such as tablet computers, interactive whiteboards and e-readers.
Ben Carson is a pediatric neurosurgeon who spoke at the room’s unveiling via a pre-recorded video message detailing his youth when he attended an inner city high school in Detroit where most of the time teachers were disciplining and not teaching. He eventually founded a fund which, among other things, encourages reading among students.