Lee Pesky Learning Center is proud to report that we have completed Year 1 of the IELP. We worked in seven Idaho school districts and # preschools: Caldwell, Kuna, Nampa, Jerome, Shelley, Mountain Home, and West Bonner. The project is focused on four goals:
1. Train teachers from PreK – 2nd grade to implement evidence-based reading instruction.
2. Provide coaching to teachers to build their capacity to deliver effective instruction.
3. Improve early reading outcomes for students.
4. Inform policy and systems change in Idaho.
We trained 87 preschool educators working in a variety of childcare settings. To measure children’s early literacy skills, we used a short test called the Get Ready to Read! (GRTR) screening tool. You can read more about the GRTR here. The chart below shows an18 percentage point increase in the number of children at or above average from fall to spring. Scoring in this range by the end of preschool means they are on the path to kindergarten readiness.
We trained 97 Kindergarten teachers across the seven school districts. Kindergarten students are tested at least three times per year with the iStation, the early reading test adopted by our state. In fall, 32% of students were able to meet grade level targets. In spring, 57% of students met targets, for a 25 percentage point increase. The statewide average growth was 18%. It is important to note that all of the participating schools are Title 1 schools, serving a majority of students from low income backgrounds.
We have learned a great deal about what it takes to make a real and lasting difference for students. We continue to work with teachers and principals to understand the factors that lead to strong gains, including:
1. Having a clear and common schoolwide focus on improving early reading outcomes.
2. Using evidence-based instructional practices in the way in which they are intended to be used.
3. Involving school leaders.
4. Responding to data. When schools use data effectively, better results are achieved.
Changing the trajectory for students who are most at-risk for poor school outcomes is hard work, but it is work worth doing. It takes a strong system to make a difference – that system is comprised of teachers who are dedicated to realizing strong outcomes for students, principals who provide the support that teachers need, and reading experts, who can provide the training and coaching to help teachers thrive. When this system is guided by policy and funding mechanisms that signal a true commitment to positive outcomes for all students, we all win.