KEARNEY — Students in Kearney schools’ grades kindergarten through sixth will get the benefit of a leveled reading program that allows teachers to target instruction to address skill needs for each student.

The program, which cost $149,540, includes six sets of roughly 1,200 titles spanning levels that cover kindergarten through sixth grade, detailed lesson plans in paper and electronic copy for each title, recording forms and assessments for each title and containers to organize and store sets of texts.

The goal is to have the materials support kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers’ instruction for below-level, on-level and above-level readers.

Teachers will be supported through the use of the new materials by district Reading Interventionists Ali Stewart and Clara Steffen, who will provide year-round support through modeling lessons, observations, feedback, a summer institute, book studies and collaboration time allotted to guided reading.

“It’s going to be a resource that really allows teachers to be able to do the diagnostics for students,” said Steffen, adding the program, which aligns with assessments tools the district is already using, will allow for assessment more than three times per year, which gives teachers more support and ability to identify where students are in reading skills throughout the year.

“It gives teachers support to move those kids further faster,” she said.

Stewart said it will also provide support with recommendations for follow-up work with families at home and will help guide school volunteers.

Superintendent Bill Nicely said the program is costly, but is the third leg of an educational stool for the district as it has been focused on improved reading comprehension of students.

“It’s the epitome of personalized learning,” he said.

“Leading reading is the most important thing we can do for our kids. It impacts everything else,” said Jennifer Kopp, the district’s director of academic services.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at or 903-6001.

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