Bucklin Elementary received the Educational Design Solutions' award for outstanding participation and for exceeding the fidelity criteria in the Kansas Reading Initiative program.

"I think there are probably quite a few quality reading programs, but in order for any of them to be successful, they have to be done with fidelity," superintendent Kelly Arnberger said. "Our teachers have utilized that program with fidelity and our kids have benefited. I'm very pleased with the effort on behalf on our children and faculty. Reading is difficult. We're glad they are doing what it takes to succeed."

The KRI program is a two-year pilot program designed to improve reading outcomes in the state of Kansas using educational technology, specifically Lexia Reading Core5. The computer-based program evaluates and provides lessons for students individually to move students to the appropriate reading level. How much time students spend in the program is based on their needs.

Bucklin uses the program for kindergarten through fifth grade students.

In one year, 113 Bucklin students completed 48,973 Lexia Reading Units, each closing a skill gap or deficiency and 70 percent of the students met their year-end benchmarks. The benchmarks align with Common Core and state expectations of the students.

KRI is managed by the Department of Children and Family Services and overseen by the Kansas Cabinet for the Children's Initiatives Fund. KRI includes a budget of up to $6 million in both 20132014 and 20142015 school years. Bucklin received its second year of funding.

"Using the program in the future is all dependent on state funding," Arnberger said.

The proceeds made available by the Tobacco Settlement Funds are providing as many as 50,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade with free access to Lexia Core5. There is no cost to the schools that choose to participate in the pilot program as long as they continue to meet minimum program usage requirements.

Bucklin became involved in the program through the elementary principal who suggested the district look into KRI.

"Principal Karen Blasi did the research on the grant," he said. "She thought this would be a program that would be beneficial so she pursued it. She did all the legwork on this and the teachers made it successful."

Educational Design Solutions, a Kansas based company, is supporting this statewide implementation. EDS, led by Dr. Donald H. Fast, a Kansas Educator for 45 years along with a team of education specialists, have been working closely with schools around improving reading and math skills for 12 years.

Lexia Reading Core5 provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning in the six areas of reading instruction, and delivers norm-referenced performance data and analysis without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test. Designed specifically to meet the most rigorous state reading standards, this research-proven, technology-based approach accelerates reading skills development, predicts students year-end performance and provides teachers with data-driven action plans to help differentiate instruction.

Lexias instructional approach has been nationally recognized and proven effective in six peer-reviewed, research-based outcomes studies published in scientific journals such as The Journal of Reading Research and the Bilingual Research Journal. These published reports serve as third-party validation of Lexias efficacy research. The program is also a four-time winner of the District Administration magazine Readers Choice Top 100 Products Award.

"I think its a fantastic program," Blasi said. "Our kids have shown great progress. The teachers want to continue it next year, but it will just depend on legislative funding."