At United Way of Central Indiana, we work with community partners to carry out our elementary education goals with a focus on third grade reading and school improvement. In Indiana, any student who does not pass the iRead exam in third grade, is not able to be promoted to the fourth grade. This makes our work even more critical as we address the needs of struggling readers throughout our area. Our partners including schools and non profit agencies implement our Read by 3 and ReadUp programs. We have introduced a brand new grant, the Student Success Grant, to give schools the autonomy and opportunity to analyze their needs and create a plan to address them effectively.
During the 2012-13 school year, 475 students in 26 schools/sites participated in ReadUP. Active programs were located in multiple schools districts in central Indiana including Indianapolis Public Schools, Lawrence Township, Greenfield, Lebanon, Carmel, Sheridan and Martinsville. Programs were also offered in one charter school and a Boys & Girls Club unit. Volunteer recruitment efforts resulted in the placement of 800 active tutors.
Students shared that they enjoyed participating in ReadUP and 81% felt that the program helped them to sound out words and understand the books. 95% of students shared that they liked their ReadUP tutors and the time they spent with them. Of the teachers surveyed, 85% indicated that they had a high satisfaction rate with the program. Nearly all teachers indicated that they were pleased that their students were able to participate in ReadUP and 83% of teachers agreed that the program contributed to greater confidence in their students.
The Read by 3 program addresses the needs of teachers with struggling readers at the 17 lowest performing Indianapolis Public Schools’ elementary schools. K-2 teachers at each Read by 3 school have a coach who supports them with reading strategies and data usage to help target students who need the most support. At every grade level, students in the 17 "Read By 3" Schools started with a lower percent of students who attained Benchmark at Boy (Beginning of Year). The READ By 3 Schools made a greater gain overall, when compared to all of the other IPS Elementary Schools for Benchmark growth from BOY (Beginning of Year) to EOY (End of Year). As noted in the DIBELS Next Comparison 2012-13 Chart, at EOY, nine of our schools participated in the DIBELS AD pilot program and administered an assessment which included different Benchmark passages and students were not assessed by the classroom teacher.
United Way’s first ever Student Success Grant’s were awarded in April 2013. These three multi-year grants are school turnaround grants that schools applied for independently. Each school staff and community worked together to create a plan that would best address the needs of the school. The grants that were awarded were created thoughtfully and incorporated strong data analysis. CFI III at School 27’s grant will increase the use of technology in the school, while also supporting their transition to becoming an IB elementary school. Snacks Crossing’s grant involves intense professional development and peer mentoring to support reading growth and achievement. Sunnyside Elementary’s grant focuses on their booming English Learner population and their families. It offers extended day and tutoring for students, as well as English classes and homework support classes for their parents. This program has already gotten off to a successful start with 100% of students participating in the summer program enrolled in the after school classes.
Looking at the year ahead, United Way of Central Indiana will to continue our work to support third grade literacy and school turnaround. The ReadUp program’s focus will shift to third grade students for the 2013-14 school year. Each school will work to increase the number of ReadUp sessions struggling readers attend. Read by 3 will focus on coach and data professional development and Orton-Gillingham strategies. Ten Read by 3 schools will also receive two Americorps members who will work full-time at the school and provide additional tutoring and reading support. The first year winners of the Student Success Grant will begin implementation this school year and will be monitored closely as we look for strategies that can be replicated throughout the state. Another cycle of the grant will also take place and will now be open to charter schools. We will also continue to engage the community in the work we do, as it expands and impacts more students this year.