Hannah Ashton Middle School students have sharpened their reading skills over the summer by reading nonfiction articles from the Associated Press.

Hannah Ashton Middle School students have sharpened their reading skills over the summer by reading nonfiction articles from the Associated Press.

Tricia Moore, director of partnerships and shared services, said students who participated in Achieve 3000, a free summer reading intervention program, had a chance to improve their reading skills through online lessons or trips to the school computer lab.

Students could work on their home computers or in the school's lab two mornings a week, with free breakfast and lunch provided.

Principal Denise Lutz called the program "a digital content provider that we use in a blended delivery model."

Students read nonfiction articles from the Associated Press at their computers while being monitored by teachers. Lutz said students are tested before beginning work with Achieve 3000 to determine their reading range so that they are provided with reading material at the appropriate reading level.

She said the topics of the articles are chosen by the students, based on subjects that interest them and by teachers who steer students toward topics in the curriculum.

Moore said the program is research-based and was also used during the last school year at Hannah Ashton.

"We are evaluating all of our results and strategies from last year and the progress that students made during that year," she said. "The way it is set up at Hannah Ashton taps into different opportunities for students, since they have made available teachers and a space at the school for students who either don't have Internet access at home or prefer to be in a space where there is a teacher."

Lutz said the students are given activities to complete after reading the articles. She said they are asked to summarize what they've read and are given questions to "exercise their thinking ability."

She said students who completed at least two stories a week with a 75-percent or higher accuracy rate over the entire school year were projected to achieve a growth rate 2.5 times higher than their average peers.

"There's a heavy emphasis on nonfiction in the new Ohio learning standards," Lutz said. "And kids love nonfiction, especially boys."

She said the boys were particularly interested in tornadoes and other natural disasters as well as wild animals and sports.

Lutz said students get feedback from the program, such as vocabulary clues when they don't recognize a word, which helps them work through any mistakes.

The program also offers rewards for work well done in messages on the screen and certificates.

When the program ends Aug. 9, the two top achievers will each receive an iPod Shuffle in recognition of their work.