NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) - Reading is truly the foundation of learning.
New Albany Elementary is celebrating success with increased scores, thanks to a special program.
It was Dr. Seuss who wrote, " You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
And these first graders begin their day traveling to one of nine classrooms, based on their reading level.
Balinda Denton has taught in the classroom for 20 years.
"The teacher plans for just one reading level and the students are engaged," Denton said.
Students rotate to different activities to focus on five reading components: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
Denton says she appreciates the focus of this new program called flexible grouping.
"By targeting these skills every day for an hour and a half in these areas, we've seen a huge growth in their reading abilities," Denton explained.
New Albany tested flexible grouping with first graders this past spring.
At the end of the pilot program, 90 percent of first graders were reading at or above their reading level.
This is the first full school year for the program, allowing students to feel success, whether they are reading chapter books or learning to speak and read English.
Betsy Wages has taught first grade for four years.
"My favorite part is that I am doing that specific need for those children on that level," Wages said.
Not only are test scores increasing, but confidence as well.
"We are meeting them where they are at and getting them to where they need to be. That's important to all of us," Wages said.
The goal is for students to graduate to the next reading level.
Flexible grouping is also being used in second grade classrooms as well.