"Mr. Higgins, are there more books?"

Early Childhood Education | 03/02/2017

Principal Nate Higgins
Principal of Chestnut South Impact Prep

Principal Higgins is the Founding Principal of Impact Prep in Springfield, Mass. Follow him @EducateNate

Earlier this month, we spoke with Impact Prep principal, Nate Higgins and asked him to discuss his new literacy program for sixth graders. This incentivized reading challenge starts when students take an initial assessment on their reading level and are then matched with books at this level. Once they have completed a book, the student takes a reading comprehension quiz to advance on to the next book, and eventually to the next level of reading. 

Tell us about your program at Impact Prep:

The program is about getting children to read 45 minutes in school every day. We started the program to address the issue that our students were two and a half grades behind in reading, realizing this, we implemented an Independent Reading program into their daily schedules.

We started by assessing and then assigning our students to a reading level. We then purchased classroom libraries divided the libraries into these levels as a guide for students on what they should read, and a way to motivate students to advance to the next level. Once the student completes the book, they take a short online assessment, and if they pass with 75% and above comprehension, they move on to the next level

Why is reading so important?

If you read well, you think well. It’s not just about passing exams, it’s about thinking critically, and the better you think, the more opportunities you have in life.

How can parents bring this message home?

A lot of our parents encourage their children to read. Our parents love to see their kids have a love of reading, and it’s about fostering that love of reading from school to home.

What results have you seen so far?

We‘ve seen real growth. Our average our students have gained a grade and a half reading level in a short amount of time and we’re not stopping any time soon. 

The tone of the school has changed. There’s an increase in reading levels and comprehension and students are applying this knowledge to other subjects.

If you love to read and you are comprehending what you’re reading, then you are learning by opening your imagination and your mind.

What will make this a stronger program?

I would love to have a very robust school library. Some students have already read 3 million words and they’re asking me now, ‘Mr. Higgins, are there more books?'

What advice do you have for the education community on how to improve Massachusetts’ reading comprehension?

Challenge our kids. They will rise to the occasion. We challenged our students to read 58 million words and made this a norm.

What else can you tell us about your plans going forward?

We are continuing this program into the summer. Our goal by the end of June is to have read over 58 million words, which we will pass. So every student will have the option of up to 10 books to bring home and read over the summer. When they complete the book, they can come into the school take a comprehension quiz. There will also be summer reading book mandated for all kids going into the 7th grade with a quiz waiting for them when they return in August.


Thank you for sharing the great work of your school and your students Principal Higgins!

 Impressed with Principal Higgins' program? Sign the pledge to ensure all students are able to read.

Share This Page

Add a comment


  • We miss you mr.higgins Bronx prep need you
    Kaila shann

    March 6, 2017 4:49 PM

  • Always knew you would succeed big. I am proud to say that I worked with you. Good luck in all of your future endeavors.

    March 6, 2017 8:42 PM

  • This is a true example of Impossible is Nothing! It's not how you start but how you finish. Thank you for your mission and dedication in cultivating our children. You have demonstrated that true passion and consistancy will change the trajectory of all children. Thank you for being an example to us all and continuing to set the bar. You have my full support!
    R. Harris

    March 8, 2017 4:19 AM