220% Improvement in Kindergarteners’ Reading From Literacy Connects Pilot Program
Kindergartners at Keeling Elementary have made astonishing strides in their reading skills, their attitudes about reading, and their classroom engagement after participation in Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed Kinder Project pilot.
Literacy Connects Takes Pride In Our Flexible Programming
In response to a significant population of struggling readers at Keeling Elementary, Literacy Connects created a year-long, intensive extension of the Reading Seed program. The Reading Seed Kinder Project is an innovative, targeted program designed to increase essential pre-literacy skills in kindergarten students. Reading Seed is built on the best-practice of one-to-one intervention and uses a balanced literacy approach that incorporates the strongest elements of both phonics and whole language instruction.
100% Improvement in Skills, Attitude, and Behavior
During the 2015-2016 school year, every kindergartener (64 in total) at Keeling Elementary was paired with a trained Reading Seed coach for one-to-one reading intervention, twice a week. Keeling Elementary teachers reported that the Reading Seed Kinder Project directly impacted the gains demonstrated by standardized test scores in the reading skills for 100% of their students. One teacher summed up the impact of the program in these areas by stating, “all students that regularly attend school had a significant increase in their excitement to read, their sharing of newly gained skills and books, and their willingness to take risks when reading.”
In her reflections on the Literacy Connects Reading Seed Kinder Project, Keeling Elementary Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hatt said that “Most of my students have a very positive outlook on reading. They feel encouraged and want to practice to become better. I see them interested in so many different types of books, not just their favorites.”
Robin Meece, Keeling Elementary’s Curriculum and Instructional Support Specialist says that “[After Reading Seed,] they come to us with joy and believing they have access to learning.” For many students, the time they spend with their Reading Seed coach will be the only focused one-to-one adult attention they will receive all week.
100% of Kinder Project students self-identified as readers and had a positive attitude change towards reading.
100% of students at Keeling engaged more readily in classroom/learning activities as a result of the Reading Seed program.
220% Increase in Whole Words Read
Compared with DIBELS scores of Keeling kindergarten students from the previous school year (2014-2015), there was an increase in average scores in every category measured. Of particular note was a 220% increase in Whole Words Read, meaning that the kindergartners were actually reading whole words rather than sounding out individual letters. “Our kids are really, truly reading. I’m sending Kinders to 1st grade that are really ready to read.” Ms. Atwell, a Keeling Elementary Kindergarten teacher went on to add,“I have been here for 15 years…and they are reading at levels I’ve never seen before in kindergarten. I fully attribute that to Reading Seed.”
Reaching Goals & Exceeding Them
Keeling Elementary School had 26% more kindergarten students reach end of year DIBELS benchmarks when compared to a similar elementary school. 91% of students at the comparable elementary school do not have the benefit of Reading Seed coaching (9% receive traditional once-a-week Reading Seed coaching).
After participation in the Reading Seed Kinder Project, 66% of Keeling kindergartners were at or above the DRA benchmark in 2015-2016 with 37% scoring far above the benchmark. Examination of the DIBELS data from that same subset shows that these were not students who entered kindergarten at a higher than average level.
Early Literacy Creates Hope for the Future
Dr. Lopez, Chief Academic Officer for Elementary Education in the Amphitheater School District, summed up the lasting effects of building a foundation in literacy: “…through the work done with Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed, students now have a permanent relationship with literacy that will get them out of poverty.” One in ten people in Pima County can’t read at a fifth grade level (think the instructions on a cake box). The early intervention provided by the Literacy Connects Reading Seed Kinder Project is forever altering the future of children in Pima county.