We developed the Early Reading Matters Program in 2014 to support high poverty schools in raising reading proficiency in grades K-2. Our goal for this work was for 70% of students to be reading on grade level by grade 2, as evidenced by benchmark assessment scores.
This program has been making steady progress each year. However in January of 2017, we noticed that a large group of kindergartners had not yet become readers. We asked ourselves, “Why were these K students not advancing?” We hypothesized that teachers needed explicit professional development in the earliest reading skills to move students forward. We wanted to prepare them to effectively implement specific strategies that teach foundational reading skills.
To address the challenge, in 2017, we piloted a more structured approach to guided literacy instruction for pre-a/non-readers. We introduced this more specific and granular lesson structure to teachers and had them implement it a minimum of three times a week, with clear guidance from the Early Reading Matters coaches, and the results were promising. 66 % of participating students moved at least one reading level in this first cycle of work.
We found that by focusing on one stage at a time, teachers were able to concentrate on and then master the skills needed to teach their learners.
We learned that steady gains were made by students when the following were in place and were implemented consistently:
- All components of the Pre-A lesson were implemented by the teacher,
- Formative data was used to plan each lesson,
- Pre-A students received this lesson 3 times a week and had multiple opportunities to practice these skills at other times during the literacy block.
And out of this pilot, our Jumpstart to Early Reading (Jumpstart) program was created.
Jumpstart develops teachers’ knowledge of the unique needs of these students by supporting assessment practices and analysis, alongside quality small-group reading instructional practices, to move students rapidly. Teachers are assigned an expert coach who will provide support during the 10-week cycle, while engaging in short online modules in the beginning weeks.
In our most recent implementation of the program, within a district, we sought to reach 70% of gains for students participating (moving from pre-reader to beginner reader) and we well exceeded that goal. We moved 80 % of participating students! These were students who were stuck at the Pre-A level throughout the entire year. Many of the students who did not move forward by a level saw significant growth in their letter ID/Sound recognition as well as strengthened their understanding of print concepts.
To learn more about Teaching Matters Early Reading and Jumpstart programs, please visit our website, and we also invite you to attend our Summer Virtual Institute, August 11-12 to learn how we can support your early reading!
Written by Pam Abramson