The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading increases readers' stamina—and their test scores.
Imagine 3rd and 4th grade classrooms in which silent reading is interrupted only by rapidly turning pages and the occasional chuckle. Imagine a group of boisterous boys reading with intense focus for 30 minutes in a corner of a classroom. During the last four years, with a team of teachers and researchers from the University of Connecticut, we have helped bring about such scenarios daily in high-poverty schools through an alternative approach to reading instruction: the Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading (SEM-R; Reis et al., 2003). This enrichment-based approach, which evolved from the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (Renzulli, 1977; Renzulli & Reis, 1997), focuses on engaging students in challenging reading accompanied by instruction in higher-order thinking and strategy skills. Teachers differentiate both instruction and student reading materials and guide students in continually regulating and challenging themselves as readers.
Why Enrichment Is Not Optional
Standardized reading achievement scores show that many students are unprepared for success in college or jobs, especially minority students and children living in poverty. Results of the 2005 American College Testing program's college admission and placement exam indicate that 79 percent of black students, 67 percent of Latino students, and 33 percent of students from families with annual incomes below $30,000 were not prepared for college-level reading (ACT, 2006). Reading and literacy contribute to academic success (Burns, Griffin, & Snow, 1999; National Reading Panel; 2000), and strong reading comprehension predicts performance on achievement tests (Allington, 2002).