Holzmann brought uPAR to the attention of the Lander School District’s AT Coordinator and Case Manager Casey Widhalm, Special Education Director Mike Harris, and Resource Room Teacher Jacqueline Sixbey. Her colleagues were receptive. The District understands how important it is for students with reading deficits to access their grade-level curricula and how academic gaps can widen as students move through the grades if appropriate supports are not identified.
“We know it makes a huge difference when a student can access the curriculum through reading,” explains Holzmann. “The challenge is knowing what works. In other districts I’ve seen educators throw different apps and text-to-speech readers at kids thinking they might work, but without any data to support whether they would or not. uPAR takes away that guesswork.”
Jacqueline Sixbey is the Lander Middle School 6th grade resource room teacher. When she heard about uPAR, she thought of Trei Federer right away. Trei spent years receiving specialized reading and writing instruction outside of his general-education classroom. Despite these interventions, an above average IQ score and impressive class participation, Trei still visibly struggled when he read, and it left a strong impression. “He read slowly, mispronounced words, and missed meanings,” Sixbey explains. “As result, I wasn’t entirely sure how much he was getting out of 6th grade Social Studies and English.”